It has been confirmed today that former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has dropped out of the presidential race and officially suspended his campaign. Castro has struggled in recent months to gain traction and hasn’t appeared in a Democratic debate since October, missing the November and December debates.
Castro also made the news official via his Twitter feed this morning:
It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today.
I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight. pic.twitter.com/jXQLJa3AdC
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) January 2, 2020
As the only Latino candidate in the field, it would have seemed that 2020 would be a prime year to launch a campaign. However, despite several lauded debate performances, where Castro was usually on point, he simply lacked the national presence and charisma to carry a campaign for the long term.
Castro was often stuck around the two percent level in polling, as CNBC reports:
He supported “Medicare for all” and climate change initiatives such as the Paris Accord and Green New Deal.
But his progressive campaign never gained traction in the polls. The RealClearPolitics polling average showed Castro consistently mired at the bottom of the field with less than 2% support.
His fundraising operation also lagged behind his competitors. He reportedly raised just $3.5 million in the third quarter of 2019 — a fraction of hauls raised by pack-leaders like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Castro, whose twin brother Joaquin is a Texas congressman, often focused on his history as a child of Mexican immigrants and presented himself as the candidate who best represented the Hispanic community.
He was the first presidential candidate to release plans to address indigenous peoples — promising to increase funding for health care, education and housing and establish a White House Council on Indigenous Communities — and animal welfare — making animal abuse a federal crime, ending the euthanasia of healthy animals in shelters and improving standards for animal welfare in farming practices.
In the grand scheme of things, Castro’s departure won’t do too much to shuffle the field but he was still holding some voters merely with his decision to stay in the race. With his exit, there will be one less name to choose from and a total lack of any Latino candidates on the Democratic side.
Castro’s political fortunes have almost certainly not ended with his failed presidential campaign. It’s entirely likely that his name remains in contention as a strong vice president pick regardless of whoever becomes the nominee. Whether it would be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, Castro would serve two roles with both his age and his demographic appeal. Add to that combination his strong debating skill and his smooth delivery and he would be a great option for most any nominee.
Castro is relatively young, at 45, and will have more campaigns ahead of him and would at least be on a shortlist for a cabinet position in a Democratic administration if not the shortlist for VP.