Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, announced that he would run for president on Saturday. He is one of the most high-profile Latino Democrats ever to seek the party’s nomination.
Castro will make his first campaign stop in Puerto Rico, where he will speak on Monday at the Latino Victory Fund’s annual summit. He will also meet with residents still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Later in the week, he will travel north to New Hampshire.
“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure that 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,” Mr. Castro said Saturday in San Antonio.
This announcement had been expected for several weeks. He established an exploratory committee in December, two months after publishing a memoir, “An Unlikely Journey.” This is a typical path for presidential candidates who want to play up their life stories and qualifications. This month he also visited two of the early caucus and primary states, Iowa and Nevada, where he emphasized Medicare for all as his health care platform and affordable housing.
Castro now joins Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and former Representative John Delaney of Maryland on the short list of Democrats who have said definitively that they will seek for the party’s 2020 nomination. That list is expected to grow significantly in the coming weeks and months.
Castro, 44, was raised in San Antonio in a political family. His mother, Rosie Castro, was an activist with the Mexican-American political party La Raza Unida. She frequently took Julián and his twin brother, Joaquin — now a congressman — to rallies and meetings. Joaquin Castro will be the chairman of Julián’s campaign.
Mr. Castro became San Antonio’s youngest City Council member at the age of 26, and after one unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2005, he was elected to the city’s top job in 2009. In 2012, he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. This is the same platform that caused Barack Obama, then a little-known state senator, to gain national prominence in 2004.
“In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever started out as the front-runner,” he told The New York Times last month. “I grew up in a neighborhood where nobody growing up there was the front-runner at anything. So I’m not going to concern myself with who people think of as the front-runner and who they don’t.”