2 Texas Democrats for President?
It could be two Texans running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro announced Dec. 12 that he’s setting up an exploratory committee, to lay the groundwork for a potential presidential run.
Castro, 44, who was former President Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development from July of 2014 until Obama left office in early 2017, said he’ll announce Jan. 12 whether he’ll actually run.
Castro’s twin brother Joaquin, a congressman from San Antonio, was unequivocal about his sibling’s intentions.
“I’ll speak on his behalf here,” Joaquin Castro told “The Late Show” host Steven Colbert, during a joint interview Dec. 13 with Julian. “He’s gonna run for president. How about that?”
Both Castro brothers had resisted invitations to run for senate or governor in 2018. Joaquin ran for re-election in his safe congressional district.
Julian Castro even took off the time to carry out one of the semi-prerequisites for running for president – writing a book. His is called “An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream.”
But El Paso U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 46, answered his own call, and ran against Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
O’Rourke ran far ahead of expectations in Red-State Texas, but lost to Cruz Nov. 6 by 2.56 percent.
O’Rourke had said that if he was elected to the senate, he would serve the full six-year term, rather than run for president, as Cruz had in 2015 and 2016.
But now that the Senate door has been closed to him – at least for the time being – he’s a free agent again.
O’Rourke’s incessant, live-on-Facebook grassroots campaign, to all 254 Texas counties, struck such a nation-wide nerve that it brought in more than $80 million from small donors. Despite his narrow loss in Red-state Texas, fans here and around the country are urging him to run for president.
And he may.
A recent CNN poll had him in third place for the Democratic nomination, at 9 percent – behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
During recent town hall meetings Friday ((Dec. 14)) in El Paso, as he closes out his third two-year term in office, O’Rourke said that he hasn’t yet decided what he’ll do.
A couple of weeks after the election, O’Rourke told an El Paso crowd that he and his wife Amy had “made a decision not to rule anything out.”
O’Rourke, whose congressional term ends Jan. 3, explained his hesitation about any immediate declaration.
“I thought I would have a level of clarity or an epiphany at this point,” O’Rourke said. “Part of it is that we are trying to finish the job and make sure that we honor our responsibilities to the people of El Paso,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to finish out and I am hopeful that, after that, spending some time with family, I’ll know what I can best do for — first and foremost my family — and then the country.”
Both O’Rourke and Julian Castro have demonstrated respect for each other.
O’Rourke lauded Castro’s service to Texas and the country and said he was proud of the former mayor.
“I think it’s something positive for the United States that he can offer and share ideas,” O’Rourke said.
“I’m happy for Texas, I’m happy for the country that he’s in the race,” he said. “I’ve just gotten to know him over the last few years and just think he’s a great person and will make a great candidate, and if he wins, he will make a great president.”
Castro, for his part, even attended O’Rourke’s election-night party in El Paso.
O’Rourke told reporters Friday that Castro’s announcement won’t have any impact on his own decision.
Regardless of who challenges Trump in 2020, O’Rourke said the election will be “the mother of all tests for this democracy.”
“Whoever is running may very well be running against somebody who has not the slightest respect for our norms, traditions, institutions, civility, dignity, decency in public life,” O’Rourke said.
Candidates at all levels of government need to “focus on issues, on our potential, on our future, instead of our fears, instead of attacking one another personally and going for base impulses,” O’Rourke said.
“I know that something good is going to come out of all of this at the end of the day, but there has never been a darker moment in this country, at least in my lifetime,” O’Rourke said. “All of us are the answer to that.”