On January 12 – as expected – Julián Castro announced his bid for the 2020 presidential election. In his speech on Saturday, Castro spoke out against President Donald Trump, who visited the border two days before. “He called [the border] a national security crisis,” he said. “Well, there is a crisis today. It’s a crisis of leadership. Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation.”
The politician made his announcement in both English and Spanish, explaining how his grandmother never would have imagined that her grandchildren would be so influential in politics.
“I am running for president because it’s time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy,” he added. “And it’s time for a new commitment to make sure the opportunities that I had are available to every American.”
Castro views himself as the “antidote” to Trump and his hate, but it’s not just the demagogue he’s up against. It’s likely he’s set to compete in a crowded Democratic field. As election talk begins to heat up, we’re bound to see more politicians toss their hats in the ring.
In the meantime, get to know Julián Castro below.
Julián Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas. Castro and twin brother Joaquín, who is also in politics, graduated from Jefferson High School in San Antonio. The Mexican-American politician then attended Stanford University and later Harvard for law school.
He credits affirmative action with helping him get into Stanford. “Joaquín and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action,” Castro told The New York Times Magazine. “I scored 1210 on my SATS, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life.”
His mom is an activist.
From a young age, Julián and Joaquín became involved in politics. They were inspired by their mother, who was a member of La Raza United, registered voters, and helped run campaigns. She’d also bring her young sons along. “We would … get dragged to rallies, speeches,” he said. “Aside from her political activism, she was a great mom. She always made us feel loved. She always made us feel like we could accomplish things.”
He became the mayor of San Antonio at 30.
Castro started off in law, but in 2001, he became San Antonio’s youngest councilman. And then eight years later, at age 30, he became the mayor of San Antonio.
After a brief career in law, he became San Antonio’s youngest councilman in 2001 and was elected mayor eight years later. As mayor, Castro became well known for his efforts to promote development within the city.
He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
In 2012, Castro was the first Latino keynote speaker at the DNC. He was also the youngest. The convention served to cast a spotlight on him, with publications calling him a rising star within the Democratic party. At the time The Guardian reported, “Despite such protestations, Castro and his speech are being talked up heavily by the Democratic hierarchy. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, told a meeting of the party’s Hispanic caucus that he had seen a couple of drafts of the address and predicted that ’10 years from now you are going to say I was there when he gave that speech.’ Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, called Castro ‘one of the key rising stars in our party and he is going to electrify the arena.'”
He served under the Obama Administration.
In 2014, he joined the Obama Administration as the secretary for housing and urban development (HUD). It made him the youngest Cabinet secretary in Obama’s administration.
After serving under Obama, he said his biggest accomplishment was ConnectHome. “During my time at HUD, ConnectHome has been personally satisfying because it was something I wanted to do before I got here. ConnectHome is an effort in 28 communities to connect low-income residents of public housing to broadband because the vast majority of public housing residents don’t have access to the Internet,” he said. “I’m proud we’re giving thousands and thousands of young people the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy.”
He was considered as a running mate for Hillary Clinton.
In 2016, his name was floated as a possible choice for Hillary Clinton’s running mate. But critics dismissed him for different reasons, including for his ties to Wall Street.
Vox explained that progressive activists “pointed to HUD’s management of delinquent mortgages, accusing Castro’s department of selling too many mortgages to Wall Street banks without enough oversight or regulation. After official criticism from (among others) [Elizabeth] Warren, HUD changed its policies for the next bath of sales, in what it claimed was a previously planned move.”
Puerto Rico was his first visit after his announcement.
Days after making his announcement, Castro showed up in Puerto Rico to talk about the ways that Trump failed the island. “I chose as my first visit after [my] announcement to come to Puerto Rico, because I want all the people of Puerto Rico to know that you count, that we respect you,” he said.
He also said that Puerto Ricans need an administration devoted to getting results. “Just the other day the president and his administration talked about taking money earmarked for Puerto Rico recovery and instead investing in [a border wall],” he added. “To do so is completely objectionable, immoral, and should never happen.”
He won't accept any money from PACs.
Castro has now said he won’t take any money from political action committees tied to corporations and unions. Universal health care and affordable housing will be some of his biggest platforms.