Many moons ago, the one Latino candidate to join the presidential race on the Democratic side was the former housing secretary during the Obama administration. But Julián Castro dropped out from the crowded primary race in January before embracing Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“It wasn’t our time. ... Ganaremos un día.” One day we’ll win, he told supporters in a video message at the outset of 2020.
But Castro is still working for change as an adviser for Voto Latino — one of the largest get-out-the-vote organizations in the country.
And since early summer, he has been a surrogate for Democratic challenger Joe Biden on the campaign trail. He wholeheartedly believes Biden will emerge victorious in the general election next week.
.@KamalaHarris and I won't just build back to the way things were before these crises — we're going to build back better and create a new American economy. Watch as my friend @JulianCastro explains. pic.twitter.com/AdGKICs6Tf— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 29, 2020
In a recent ad expressing support for Biden’s jobs plan, Castro is seen playing Lotería, a Mexican game similar to bingo.
“Joe Biden has a plan. It all comes down to one word: jobs,” Castro declares in the commercial, which concludes with two cards, “El Joe Biden” and “La Kamala Harris.”
Castro was originally in the race saying many things others wouldn’t. He talked about abolishing the electoral college, had the most detailed immigration policy plan, and was vocally opposed to unrepresentative Iowa and New Hampshire going first in the primary process.
The former San Antonio mayor was also talking about racial justice issues long before George Floyd was killed this past spring. The tough-talking Texan hopes that in the next administration, issues like systemic racism — especially important to communities of color — won’t be sidelined.
Many have speculated exactly what went wrong in his own presidential campaign.
“There were already limitations baked in because I didn't have the name ID,” Castro told The World. “I didn't have the fundraising base.”
Campaign cash definitely was an issue, including among Latinos. Or, perhaps he just didn’t resonate as much as other candidates who had better financial backing.
Castro also questions whether 2020 was the right year for him.
“I don't think the dynamics were particularly supportive of a person of color in the Democratic primary,” he opined before adding that 2022 will mark 100 years since his grandmother arrived in the US.
He voted in his first presidential election in 1992 for Bill Clinton. Since then, he has always expected more effort from candidates to reach Latino voters.
“When that has happened, it's been three months before the election, four months before the election, instead of 365 days a year engagement,” Castro said.
Castro hasn’t said whether he’ll run again, but he has a message for other Latinos in the US who may aspire to run for office.
“You should feel empowered,” Castro said. “You have a power that I hope you'll recognize. And the No. 1 way that you can exercise that power in the near term is to vote.”