A Whiter Democratic Field: Julián Castro Ends Presidential Campaign

Julián Castro, the only Latinx candidate in the Democratic primary, announced on January 2 that he was dropping his bid for the White House. The former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary struggled in the polls throughout his campaign, despite championing progressive policies.

“I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together. We’ve shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people, and given a voice to those who are often forgotten,” Castro said in a nearly 4-minute video announcing the decision. “But with only a month until the Iowa caucuses, and given the circumstances of this campaign season, I have determined that it simply isn’t our time.”

He continued: “So today, it’s with a heavy heart and with profound gratitude, that I will suspend my campaign for president.”

Castro, who served as the mayor of San Antonio for five years, did not reveal what his future plans are, but maintained he was not done fighting. “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.”

During his year-long campaign, Castro brought attention to the issues of immigration and border control. In June 2019, Castro went head-to-head with fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke over the decriminalization of border crossings. Castro’s progressive support of decriminalizing border crossings prompted several Democratic candidates to embrace the idea, The New York Times reported.

Castro also focused on police and criminal justice reforms as well as other issues affecting communities of color. And in his departure video, he listed the names of Blacks and Latinxs who have died in police custody or have been killed by police.

Why It Matters

Castro was the only Latinx candidate running for the Democratic nomination in a field that is increasingly becoming less diverse. The San Antonio native was unable to make an impact in the polls, barely nabbing 2 percent support in national and early-voting state surveys.

His weak poll standings and equally poor fundraising forced him to miss several primary debates. Having met the requirements for the first four primary debates, Castro was unable to qualify for subsequent events, including the-all-important Iowa debate on Jan. 14 in Des Moines. In October, Castro announced that if he could not raise $800,000 by October 31, his “campaign will be silenced for good.”

Castro’s decision to drop out comes on the heels of the departure of another candidate of color from the Democratic field: Senator Kamala Harris. Harris, once thought of a leading contender, failed to pull her campaign up from the bottom of the field. The California senator abruptly ended her bid in December, citing lack of funds.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris said, according to Politico. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

Who’s Left?

What began as the most racially diverse Democratic field has turned to one with just three candidates of color: Sen. Cory Booker, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Booker, who failed to qualify for the upcoming primary debate in Iowa, lambasted party officials for qualifications he said were sidelining candidates of color.

“Once again, we’re facing the prospect of a debate stage that is completely missing the perspectives of diverse communities,” Booker told supporters in an email, according to NJ.com. “We shouldn’t have debate rules that, on the one hand, allow self-funding billionaires like Tom Steyer to buy their way onto the stage, while, on the other excluding qualified candidates of color from the conversation.”

Polls show the remaining candidates of color continue to perform poorly, while the top three candidates are all white. Poor polling numbers have meant that the three remaining candidates of color are unable to participate in the upcoming debate.

The Democratic National Committee announced in December that candidates must receive five percent or more support in at least four polls that are sponsored by different qualifying poll sponsors or receive seven percent or more support in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada, the first four primary states. Candidates must also receive donations from 225,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, territories or the District of Columbia.

The Democratic field is likely to be further whittled down following the first two primary and caucus states. First-in-the-nation Iowa will hold its caucus on February 3, while New Hampshire will host its Democratic primary on February 11. The two states are overwhelmingly white and have been criticized as poor representatives of the demographic make up of Democratic voters.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.