On Saturday, January 12, 2019, Julian Castro made it official. In both English and Spanish – “I am a candidate for President of the United States of America”/”Soy un candidato por la Presedencia de los Estados Unidos”. Just who is Julian Castro? The Latino community and politics are familiar with Julian Castro. Yet the layperson, perhaps not so much. Here are five things to know about the first Latino candidate to contend to be the 46th President of the United States.
Julian Castro is a Stanford graduate. Graduating in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications. Castro said he began thinking about entering politics while at Stanford, he and his brother Joaquin launched their first campaigns and won student senate seats. Between his sophomore and junior years, Castro worked as an intern at the White House during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Castro entered Harvard Law School in 1997 and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 2000. After law school, the two brothers worked for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld before starting their own firm in 2005.
Castro, clearly has the academic acumen and qualifications. Yet, there is more. There is the experience. By no means is Julian Castro a rookie when it comes to politics and legislating. At the state level Castro served as Mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. During his tenure he established Cafe College in 2010, offering college guidance to San Antonio-area students. In 2012 he led a voter referendum to expand pre-kindergarten education. Managing to get two of the most prominent businessmen in San Antonio to contribute and lead an effort to pass a $30 million sales tax to fund the pre-kindergarten education program. At the national level, Castro served as the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There he helped rebuild communities struck by natural disasters through a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. Doing a commendable enough job to be a one of the final candidates for Vice-President on Hillary Clinton’s ticket.
3. Personal Story
When you plan on running for the highest office in the free world, you had better be prepared to have your life story ready for public consumption. Castro’s story, is about as American as it gets, but it is layered with a filter that is unapologetically equal parts, Latino, salt of the earth and immigration grass roots. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he is the son of Maria “Rosie” Castro and Jessie Guzman. His mother was a Chicana political activist who helped establish the Chicano political party La Raza Unida, and who ran unsuccessfully for the San Antonio City Council in 1971. Castro once stated, “My mother is probably the biggest reason that my brother and I are in public service. Growing up, she would take us to a lot of rallies and organizational meetings and other things that are very boring for an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old”. Castro’s Texan roots trace back to 1920, when his grandmother Victoria Castro joined extended family members there as a six-year-old orphan from northern Mexico.
Pedigree, experience and a great personal story are all prerequisites to be POTUS. Those that make it to the final stages of such an endeavor have certain intangibles that separate them from the pack. Clinton went outside the traditional box by appearing on late night TV – a first for that period. Obama harnessed the power of social media, this coupled with unmatched orator skills catapulted him to the office, Trump recognized an untapped and ignored portion of the population and crafted a message that spoke directly to them. What does Castro bring to the table. Perhaps it’s his self-awareness. Before critics could pounce, he’s pointed out his weaknesses and faced them head on.
This is perhaps the most important thing to know. Any politician running for office needs to have a message. Thus far it’s too early to tell what Julian Castro’s message is. However, early indicators seem to be that he is the antidote for Trump. Diametrically and unapologetically opposed to the positions of the current administration. Will it work? Too early to tell. The following is a bit like reading tea leaves yet should not be disregarded. Those who have already announced their candidacy such as Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden (rumored to be) have been met with the customary mean tweets from the current administration. Yet, Castro’s candidacy has been met with crickets. So either, he is not viewed as a threat. Or he very much is, hence the unusual silence from the current administration.
Either way, 2019 and 2020 are shaping up to be rather interesting.