Julian Castro Announces Presidential Bid

Here's what you need to know about him.

“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.” Those were the words that Julian Castro delivered to a crowd of supporters in San Antonio a few days ago when he became the latest Democrat to announce his candidacy for the White House. “I’m running for President because it’s time for new leadership and to make sure opportunities I had are available to every American,” he added.

But who, exactly, is this man?

Julian Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1974, along with his twin brother, Joaquin Castro, who is currently a Democratic congressman from Texas. Their mother, Maria Castro, in 1970 helped create the  La Raza Unida (LRU), radical, tribalistic movement promoting Chicano identity politics. And in 1971 she ran an unsuccessful campaign (on the LRU ticket) for the San Antonio City Council.

Mrs. Castro was a strong ideological influence on her sons, as evidenced by the fact that both boys were lauded as “modelos” (young people worthy of emulation) at an Activist Reunion which former LRU members held in December 1989.

In 1992 Julian Castro was admitted to Stanford University under the school’s racial preference program. The fact that he was admitted under standards that were much lower than those of his white and Asian peers does not trouble him at all; in fact he's very proud of it. “Joaquín and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action,” Julian told The New York Times in 2010. “I scored 1,210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life.”

After graduating from Stanford in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science, Castro attended Harvard Law School, where he joined a Hispanic campus organization called Alianza and served on the Law School Council before receiving his JD degree in 2000.

In 2001 Castro launched a political career by winning a seat on the San Antonio City Council. In 2005, he co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, which produced a ten-year plan designed to end chronic homelessness in San Antonio. This plan was a model of leftist nanny-state politics, as it called for massive public expenditures to fund: (a) the creation of 800 new permanent housing units for people with disabilities; (b) increased access to public restroom facilities; (c) increased enrollment in the food stamp program; and (d) the expansion of the San Antonio Food Bank’s storage facility.

In 2005 as well, Castro, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for the office of San Antonio mayor.

Although his mother was a Hispanic activist, Castro did not speak Spanish growing up. In light of the large number of Mexican-Americans residing in San Antonio, he began to worry that this would be a political liability. Thus, in 2009 he hired a Spanish-language tutor. That same year, Castro ran again for the office of San Antonio mayor and won. One of his first acts as mayor was to adorn the wall of his office with a 1971 La Raza Unida City Council campaign poster featuring an image of his mother.

In July 2012, independent filmmaker Carlos Calbillo interviewed Castro at the 40th anniversary of the Texas La Raza Unida Party. “In my interview,” Calbillo subsequently wrote, Mayor Julian reveals that he,… because of the activism of his mother Rosie, considers himself to be a legacy of the Texas and National La Raza Unida Party movement.”

Also in July 2012, President Barack Obama selected Castro to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. In that speech, Castro tried to emphasize his Mexican heritage by saying three times, “Que dios los bendiga” (Spanish for “God bless you”), and explaining that his grandmother used to say those words to him and his twin brother as they left for school each morning when they were children.

In March 2013, Castro and his brother both attended the first grassroots meeting of Battleground Texas, an organization dedicated to transforming the traditionally Republican state of Texas into a permanent Democratic stronghold.

In 2014, President Obama appointed Castro as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a post he went on to hold until the end of Obama’s second term. Guided by Castro’s belief that “the fact that you were arrested shouldn’t keep you from getting a job and it shouldn’t keep you from renting a home,” HUD in April 2016 issued an enforcement directive warning landlords that they could be punished for refusing to rent to prospective tenants with criminal histories. “Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system,” said the directive, “criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics … [and] are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.”

So this is the Democrats' latest presidential aspirant. The key planks of his campaign platform are massive programs that would require trillions of taxpayer dollars to implement: “Medicare-for-all” (government-run, single-payer healthcare), universal access to government-funded pre-K and higher education, and a so-called “Green New Deal” – i.e., enormous public investments in “clean-energy” jobs and infrastructure, so as to end America’s reliance on fossil fuels. When asked how he would pay for such initiatives, Castro said what all Democrats say: that wealthier individuals and corporations would finally be required to “pay their fair share” of taxes. “There was a time in this country,” he noted, “where the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent.”

It ultimately makes little difference who the Democratic presidential nominee is. Julian Castro's priorities and agendas are, for the most part, mirror images of Elizabeth Warren's, Kamala Harris's, Kirsten Gillibrand’s, etc. They differ only along the edges; their cores are all the same. 

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