Who Is Julián Castro?
Julián Castro is a Democratic politician who served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas from 2009-2014, and as President Barack Obama's Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary from 2014-2017. In January 2019, Castro announced his presidential bid in the 2020 election, before exiting the race early the following year. Hailing from a politically active Mexican family, Castro has an identical twin brother, Joaquin, who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Texas.
Early Life and Education
Castro was born on September 16, 1974, in San Antonio, Texas, one minute before his twin brother, Joaquin. Castro's mother, Rosie, was a Chicana activist of the 1960s and 1970s who raised her two sons and took them to political meetings. Rosie never married Julián and Joaquin's father, Jesse Guzman, who had a family of his own.
Castro attended Stanford University in 1996, majoring in political science and communications, and then matriculated to Harvard University, where he received his law degree three years later. After graduating, the twins worked at the same law firm together before establishing their own in 2005.
Career in Politics
Castro began his political career in 2001 when he became a member of the San Antonio City Council, making history as the youngest council member at age 26. In 2005, he set his eyes on the mayorship of San Antonio but was defeated. He tried again in 2009 and was successful. He was re-elected twice.
Castro's political star was rising not only in Texas but nationally. In 2012, he became the first Latino at a Democratic National Convention to serve as the keynote speaker.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary
From 2014 to 2017, Castro worked as HUD Secretary for the Obama administration. During his tenure, he helped minorities gain more access to fair housing rights, aided communities struck by natural disasters and launched a program that increased broadband connectivity to young people across the nation.
2020 Presidential Platform and Policies
On January 12, 2019, Castro announced his run for the presidency in 2020.
"I'm running for president because it's time for new leadership, it's time for new energy, it's time for new commitment to make sure the opportunities that I had are available to every American," Castro said in his hometown of San Antonio.
"When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I'm sure 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," he remarked in English and Spanish, adding, "There are no frontrunners that are born here, but I've always believed that with big dreams and hard work, anything is possible in this country."
Castro supported "Medicare for All" and viewed this as the top priority of his campaign. During the September 2019 presidential debate, Castro criticized former VP and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden, claiming his healthcare plan did not go far enough.
"Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered," he said, addressing Biden on his healthcare plan. "He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not."
Castro aimed to grant undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, reconstitute ICE and border patrol agencies and decriminalize illegal border crossings. A vocal opponent of President Donald Trump's border wall expansion, Castro had one of the most viral moments at the June 2019 Democratic presidential debates, when, in his closing statement, he ended with: "On Jan. 20, 2021, we'll say adios to Donald Trump."
Castro wanted to institute a comprehensive education program starting with universal pre-K. He created a $150 billion plan aimed to modernize high schools, increase the number of trade schools and offer tuition-free public college and vocational programs.
Campaign Troubles and End
Although he drew attention for his willingness to mix it up with his fellow Democratic hopefuls on the debate stage, Castro never found his way into the top tier of candidates. He struggled to raise enough money, and failed to qualify for the final two Democratic debates of the year.
On January 2, 2020, Castro announced that he was pulling out of the presidential race. "I've determined that it simply isn't our time," he said in a video released by his campaign, adding, "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."
Julián's identical twin brother is Congressman Joaquin Castro, who's been representing the 20th congressional district of Texas since 2013. Like his brother, Joaquin went to Stanford University undergrad and earned his law degree at Harvard University. Joaquin served as his brother's presidential campaign chair.
Wife and Family
Castro married school teacher Erica Lira in 2007. The couple has a daughter and a son.
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