Julián Castro Drops Out of Presidential Race

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Julián Castro, the former housing secretary who was the only Latino candidate in the Democratic primary, said Thursday he would end his bid for the presidency, capping a yearlong campaign where he struggled in polls but remained a policy pacesetter on immigration and fighting poverty.

Throughout his campaign, Mr. Castro, 45, a native of San Antonio who spent five years as its mayor, portrayed himself as an unapologetic liberal who was shaped by his humble beginnings and had been overlooked by the press. Though he created some memorable moments as he championed progressive policy and challenged his rivals on the campaign trail, Mr. Castro did not catch on with voters and was unable to break into the upper tier of a crowded primary field. His exit is the latest departure of a candidate of color from a field that began as the most racially diverse ever in a Democratic primary.

“I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time,” Mr. Castro said in a nearly four-minute video message released by his campaign, which included a montage from his year on the trail, including visits to the border and a homeless encampment in Oakland. “Today it’s with a heavy heart, and profound gratitude, that I will suspend my campaign for president.”

“I’m not done fighting,” Mr. Castro continued, though he gave no indication of his immediate plans. “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.”

Mr. Castro was outspoken when Senator Kamala Harris of California made a surprise exit from the race in early December, saying that “Kamala was treated very poorly” and had been “held to an unfair standard” by the media.

“The media’s flawed formula for “electability” has pushed aside women and candidates of color,” he said that day on Twitter. “Our party’s diversity is our strength.”

For some, Ms. Harris’s departure bolstered the case Mr. Castro had been making about the primary system. On the day she announced she was dropping out, Mr. Castro had his best fund-raising day of the quarter.

Mr. Castro’s concerns about the field’s diminishing diversity were amplified again in the days leading up to the December debate, when nine of the Democratic candidates signed a letter to the D.N.C. asking officials to lower the thresholds to qualify for the party’s January and February events. The letter noted that many of the candidates who had helped make the Democratic field diverse had been “excluded.” And indeed, the December debate featured six white candidates and only one person of color, the businessman Andrew Yang.

Shortly after Mr. Castro made his announcement, other candidates expressed their disappointment at his departure and gratitude for his contributions.

“Your voice and campaign were invaluable in sticking up for underrepresented communities and pushing the field forward,” said Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who later sent a fundraising appeal to supporters directly invoking Mr. Castro and the racial makeup of the field. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts praised Mr. Castro’s “powerful voice” and “bold and progressive plans.”

Mr. Castro, a third-generation Mexican-American who has endured repeated scrutiny over his lack of Spanish fluency, ended his last campaign video with a message to supporters:

“Ganaremos un día!” The translation is offered only in the subtitles: “One day we’ll win!”


Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens

2020-01-02 14:13:40

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