- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Julian Castro, a Cabinet secretary during the Obama administration, announced Wednesday he’s forming an exploratory committee to pursue a 2020 presidential bid, making him the highest-profile Democratic player to take that leap so far.

Mr. Castro, who was Housing and Urban Development secretary, said the committee will help him make a final decision in the coming weeks.

“Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness. We’re ready to keep our promises and we’re not going to wait. We’re going to work,” he said in a YouTube video announcement. “That’s why I’m exploring a candidacy for president of the United States in 2020.”

In the video, he checked off all the basic liberal touchstones of debt-free college, environmental action, health care and a more generous immigration system.

Mr. Castro, 44, has been seen as a rising star in Democratic circles, delivering a much-anticipated and well-received keynote speech at the 2012 nominating convention on behalf of then-Sen. Barack Obama.



At the time he was mayor of San Antonio.

His twin brother, Joaquin, represents Texas’ 20th District in the House.

Republicans panned Mr. Castro’s entry into the race.

“There’s arguably no bigger lightweight in the 2020 field than Julian Castro,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens. “His mayoral job was largely ceremonial, he was in totally over his head at HUD. And no, he doesn’t even know Spanish.”

Since leaving office, Mr. Castro has followed the standard path for a future presidential candidate, including writing a book, titled “An Unlikely Journey,” about his political awakenings.

But another Texas Democrat, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has been gobbling up a lot of the national 2020 oxygen in recent weeks, which might have pushed Mr. Castro to a speedier decision about forming an exploratory committee.

The committee allows him to raise money to advance a presidential bid, and spend on such matters as polling and travel.

Mr. Casto has some ground to make up.

In straw polls liberal groups have taken of their backers in recent weeks, Mr. O’Rourke, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and Sen. Bernard Sanders appear to be the front-runners, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the mix and Sen. Kamala D. Harris also showing well in a poll by MoveOn.org.

The 2020 Democratic field is shaping up as the highest-powered in American history, with a former vice president, a former attorney general, a former first lady and secretary of state, a former national security adviser, one or two billionaires, and at least eight senators signaling interest.

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