The Slatest

Julián Castro Drops Out of Presidential Race

Julián Castro looks thoughtfully off to the right. He appears to be standing on a stage.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro in October. Castro rarely polled above 2 percent and failed to qualify for the past two debates. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Julián Castro, the former Obama administration housing secretary and San Antonio mayor, announced Thursday that he is ending his presidential campaign.

“I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together,” he said in a video. “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.”

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One of Castro’s most significant contributions to the race was to shift the conversation about immigration, calling for border crossings to be fully decriminalized. Castro’s campaign also maintained a focus on poverty and other issues related to disadvantaged groups. In his announcement video, Castro, the only Latino candidate running for president, reiterated that focus by listing the names of black and Latino people who had been killed by police or in police custody in recent years.

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Castro rarely polled above 2 percent, and he failed to qualify for the past two Democratic debates. His departure follows that of Kamala Harris, another prominent candidate of color. Castro has called for the Democratic primary to be reordered to reflect the nation’s demographics, as the heavily white states of Iowa and New Hampshire significantly influence the process.

Several of his former rivals expressed appreciation for Castro’s role on the national stage and wished him well. “Julián brought a bold vision of justice and equality to this race,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on Twitter. “He puts people first and speaks up for the most vulnerable.”

“America is better because [Castro] has dedicated his career to lifting communities and expanding opportunities for all of us,” Pete Buttigieg tweeted. “I know he will continue to fight for an America where all belong.”

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“Thank you [Castro] for being a powerful voice, for proposing bold and progressive plans, and for using your campaign to help people who need it now,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter. “You made this race stronger—and you will continue to be a leader in our party and our country for many years to come.”

Sen. Cory Booker called Castro a friend and said he would miss him on the trail. “[Y]our voice and campaign were invaluable in sticking up for underrepresented communities and pushing the field forward,” he tweeted.

Castro did not say what his next move would be, but in his video he indicated he would not step away from the public eye. “I’m not done fighting,” he said. “I’ll keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care and a decent place to live.”

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