It is time to review another Democratic presidential challenger: Former Rising Star and HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
Julian Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio and former HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Secretary under President Obama. He became known as a “rising star” after giving a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In it, Castro attempted to replicate Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC speech. But, after watching the 20 minute-long video online, it was clear that he couldn’t match Obama’s charm and speechifying skills. In fact, after being named HUD Secretary in 2013, Castro disappeared from the limelight. Until a few months ago, media outlets forgot all about the Democratic Party’s next big thing. To make matters worse, fellow Texan Congressman Beto O’Rourke has taken the mantle as “Obama 2.0”, as evidenced here… and here… and here. In a probable push to take that energy back, an announcement was made on January 12th, 2019 that he would be seeking the presidency.
But what is more important than any of this political gossip? The policy proposals, of course! Up until just recently, Castro would be unspecific on most positions. In his DNC speech, his main talking points were, “move forward”, “everyone should get ahead”, and “the American Dream is a relay”. Even in this most recent speech shown above, Castro used the cliché of America needing, “new leadership… new energy”. Having heard this, immediate flashbacks of Martin O’Malley came to mind. He came across as a typically vague, establishment Democrat.
Castro is in favor of Universal Pre-Kindergarten, as well as making the first two years of college “accessible and affordable”. This article claims that he is in favor of free college for the first two years, but there appears to be no specifics on this yet.
In the above speech, Castro said he is for Medicare for All. In an interview with Face the Nation, he proposed raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for it. This is a clear departure from the Democratic Establishment, though it is puzzling that he never mentioned Medicare for all in 2012.
The former Secretary endorsed Black Lives Matter, bringing up the names of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and others that were killed by police officers. He wished to “reform” the criminal justice system. Castro said that “innocent until proven guilty should apply to everyone”, which is positive… however no specifics were given.
“Keeping families together, not apart” is Castro’s policy proposal on immigration. He gave the common Democratic talking point of comprehensive immigration reform without going into what he meant by that. Like all Democrats, he is against Donald Trump’s inhumane policies on immigration.
Here was an issue that should be mentioned more often by politicians. Anyone living in New York City would be aware that affordable housing is at the forefront of current crisis today. Castro claimed that as HUD Secretary, he cut veteran homelessness by half. He also said that he was in favor of investing in affordable housing projects. It was noticeable from the video that Castro became more animated and passionate talking about this, which was both good to see but also alarming. Housing is personal to him, but perhaps not as much as healthcare or education.
Castro claimed his first executive action would be recommit to the Paris Climate Accord. He would “say no to big oil and say yes to a Green New Deal”. That certainly be a positive change to Trump’s denial of climate change.
Other issues that took up less time in his speech
- $15 minimum wage
- Right to organize labor
- Protect workers from discrimination
- End Citizen’s United
- no PAC money
Can he win the nomination?
Likely not. While staking out many progressive positions, there was no word from Castro on the boldest parts of his platform years ago. This gives the feeling that he is just pivoting towards the progressive wing of the party right now… and that he would pivot to the center after winning the nomination. There is a noticeable lack of specific policies to get voters excited… and nowadays the Democratic base is looking for bold, specific initiatives. At this moment, there is no page on his website julianforthefuture.com detailing what his proposals are (which should change in time). Aside from is lack of specifics, he really comes across as the typical smiling politician with nicely combed hair. In terms of the primaries, Castro will be in serious trouble if Beto O’Rourke runs as well. They are both from Texas, which can either launch or sink their campaigns. Currently, Beto is the establishment darling, so Castro needs to take out his opponent before the primaries officially begin. Besides Texas, Castro may have an advantage in states with large Hispanic populations such as Nevada, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Unless he can prove himself to be as committed as Bernie or Elizabeth Warren to progressive priorities, there is little chance for him to win the nomination.
Can he win the general?
Using http://www.270towin.com, Here is a prediction of where Castro stands in 2020 against Donald Trump:
Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com
He would probably lose. The only major improvement over Hillary Clinton would be in Florida, where Andrew Gillum nearly became governor in 2018. He would NOT win Texas, or the grassroots in the Midwest who become energized by Bernie Sanders. Perhaps this is inaccurate, but that is where it stands as of now.