Julián Castro, Officially Announcing Bid for Democratic Nomination, Could Be First Latino President

Castro is a third-generation Mexican-American

President Obama Delivers Remarks At The Department of Housing and Urban Development
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and President Barack Obama’s Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is one of the latest Democrats running for president, throwing his hat into the ring over the weekend. Castro is a third-generation Mexican-American and, if elected, will be the first Latino to serve as the president of the United States. At the age of 44, Castro will also be one of the youngest presidents in history.

In his announcement, he spoke of the American Dream by honoring his family’s history, sharing that his grandmother had first immigrated to Texas a century 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.”

Castro has an identical twin brother, Rep. Joaquín Castro, who will be leading his campaign. Civic involvement was instilled in the brothers from an early age; their mother was a political activist who worked with a Mexican-American political party.

Castro will be in Puerto Rico today to meet with people affected by Hurricane Maria, who are reeling from the news that President Trump is considering using disaster relief funds to push forward the border wall rather than to aid in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts. The island sustained more than $100 billion in damage in the storm.

A Progressive Underdog Among Nominees

Castro is viewed as an underdog in this race, a position that he’s embraced. To win, FiveThirtyEight suggests that he’ll need to have his team do major outreach in Latino communities — Hispanic voter turnout is typically low — and he’ll also need to connect with and energize younger voters.

He is one of the more progressive democrats running for president, supporting Medicare for all, abortion rights, universal background checks for gun purchases, pathways to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants, and is an ally for marginalized groups.

Castro joins Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former West Virginia State Sen. Richard Ojeda (also of Mexican-American descent), and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland in their presidential bids, a group that reflects a mix of centrist and progressive ideals as well as a changing demographic — less older, white males; more youth, color, and women. California Sen. Kamala Harris is expected to announce her candidacy before the end of the month.