Julián Castro, the former Obama-era housing and urban development secretary, announced on Saturday that he’s officially launching a bid to become the Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago,” he told a crowd in San Antonio, “I’m sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.”
The crowd began chanting, “Julián! Julián!” as Castro then repeated the announcement in Spanish.
The early January announcement makes the 44-year-old among the first Democrats to officially jump into the presidential race — a year ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the only sitting member of Congress to have announced that she’s officially running, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed an exploratory committee ahead of a likely campaign.
Castro, who served as mayor of San Antonio before joining the Obama administration, came into the national spotlight after becoming the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. He could likely be one of the only Latino candidates in what’s expected to be a crowded field for Democrats in 2020 (Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, is the only other Latino mentioned in candidate conversations).
“Going forward, the challenge for me is to articulate a strong vision for the future that includes everybody,” Castro recently told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “At the same time, right now, the Latino community feels attacked by this administration, and so of course there’s a special significance to me standing up on that stage.”
Before his announcement, he told voters in Iowa that he would push for left-wing policies like a Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and pledged that he would not take any corporate PAC money if he jumped into the race.
Castro recommitted himself to those policy proposals during his announcement, telling the crowd it was time for Medicare for All. He said that if he’s elected he’d recommit the US to the Paris climate accord and help pass a Green New Deal.
Castro said that he’s not intimidated by the large field of candidates that have also endorsed progressive policies, adding that he’s confident that he can win the party’s nomination.
“You’re going to have a whole range of perspectives represented on the debate stage,” Castro told BuzzFeed News in a December interview. “I consider myself a progressive, and I look forward to articulating my own vision for the future. And then the voters are going to make their choices based on what they hear from a whole bunch of talented people.
“I have no doubt that a lot of what I talk about many folks are going to agree with wholeheartedly, and there may be some things that I talk about that folks don’t agree with as wholeheartedly,” he added.
Castro was also optimistic that having a Democrat from Texas on the presidential ticket could help the party capture the state’s as-yet elusive Electoral College votes.
Texas Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who lost his Senate challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz in November, is also being mentioned as a possible 2020 candidate.
In a further sign that O’Rourke is preparing to enter the race, news emerged Friday that he was preparing to sit down with Oprah Winfrey for a televised interview in early February.
Castro will spend the first full day of his presidential campaign on Sunday traveling to Puerto Rico. He will tour hurricane recovery sites with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Monday.
His campaign will be chaired by his identical twin brother, Rep. Joaquín Castro.