Julián Castro Ended His Campaign, But His Questions About Race and the Party's Future Endure

Illustration for article titled Julián Castro Ended His Campaign, But His Questions About Race and the Party's Future Endure
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Julián Castro announced the end of his yearlong presidential campaign Thursday, citing “circumstances of this campaign season.”


“I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together,” Castro said in a final campaign video uploaded to his Twitter account. “We’ve shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people, and given a voice to those who are often forgotten. But with only a month until the Iowa caucuses, and given the circumstances of this campaign season, I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time.”

The former San Antonio mayor and Obama-era Housing and Urban Development secretary ran a progressive campaign, but had long struggled in the polls. By October he was lagging behind financially as well, enough to warrant a tweet sounding an alarm to supporters. And while Castro appeared in the first four Democratic debates, he did not qualify for the November or December debates. Still, he regularly garnered attention for his bold immigration stances, some of which led him to butt heads with his Democratic competitors: He accused Former Vice President Joe Biden of distancing himself from President Obama’s legacy of deportation when convenient; Castro also sparred with Beto O’Rourke over U.S.-Mexico border crossings , which O’Rourke believes should remain a criminal act.

Most recently, Castro has made headlines for criticizing the Democratic National Committee’s ever-changing debate thresholds, which has led to a lack of racial diversity of its stage and apparent deference to billionaire candidates. He said that he was worried that a debate stage without racial or ethnic diversity puts Democrats at a “greater risk for failure in November of 2020.” After Kamala Harris suspended her campaign, he tweeted about the media’s discriminatory coverage of “women and candidates of color.” He even made one query a national topic of discussion: Why do some of the whitest states kick off the presidential primary, the results of which influence the remainder of the primary season?

“I’m gonna tell the truth. It’s time for the Democratic Party to change how we do our presidential nominating process,” Castro said during an Iowa town hall in December. “I don’t believe the two states that start the process—Iowa and New Hampshire—are reflective of the diversity of the country, or of our party.”

Castro’s campaign never quite took off, but the questions he posed about the party will likely linger throughout the primary season, into the Democratic National Convention, and beyond.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.



Castro was a much stronger presence in the campaign than I expected him to be. In the past, I’d always seen him as a kind of John Edwards figure (i.e., an attractive empty suit whom the party wanted to elevate for reasons related to geography and demographics), but he was a lot more genuine-seeming than John Edwards was ever able to convincingly pull off, and it’s a shame that he never had a chance at actually competing in this field.

Warren may still make the late surge as the voting starts (similar to Kerry or even Obama), but more and more, she seems to be truly fading. Leaving us with a choice between Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg and more or less confirming that the Democratic Party is incapable of running (and the media incapable of adequately covering) a large, productive primary.