Julián Castro campaigns during the 2019 Iowa State Fair
Julián Castro campaigns during the 2019 Iowa State Fair (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under Creative Commons license)

For­mer Sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment Julián Cas­tro has announced that he may sus­pend his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign as ear­ly as the end of this month.

In an email, Cas­tro urged his sup­port­ers to con­tribute to keep the cam­paign afloat: “I’m ask­ing you to fight for me like nev­er before. If I don’t meet this dead­line, I won’t have the resources to keep my cam­paign running.”

Julián Castro campaigns during the 2019 Iowa State Fair
Julián Cas­tro cam­paigns dur­ing the 2019 Iowa State Fair (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Castro’s cam­paign is wor­ried that he will be unable to qual­i­fy for November’s debate in Atlanta, Geor­gia. While Cas­tro has actu­al­ly raised enough funds from enough donors to meet the finan­cial thresh­old for entry to the debate, he has not yet reached the polling thresh­old of 3% sup­port in at least four qual­i­fied polls.

The first 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty nom­i­nat­ing event – the Iowa cau­cus­es – are sched­uled for Feb­ru­ary 3rd, over three months away.

Castro’s call to his sup­port­ers is very sim­i­lar to New Jer­sey Sen­a­tor Cory Booker’s fundrais­ing appeal in September.

Book­er warned his fans that he would drop out of the race if his cam­paign failed to raise $1.7 mil­lion by the end of the third quar­ter; in the next ten days, his cam­paign received over $2 mil­lion. Cas­tro pre­sum­ably hopes to repeat such a feat.

Cas­tro has spent his whole cam­paign strug­gling against his low name recog­ni­tion among vot­ers – in con­trast to wide­ly rec­og­nized can­di­dates like Joe Biden, Eliz­a­beth War­ren, and Bernie Sanders.

This lack of name recog­ni­tion has meant that his agen­da – one of the more pro­gres­sive and well thought-though of the pri­ma­ry can­di­dates’ – has not received the atten­tion it has per­haps deserved.

Over the course of the cam­paign sea­son, Cas­tro has voiced sup­port for:

  • The Green New Deal, plus imple­ment­ing a tax on pollution
  • Free col­lege, plus stu­dent debt for­give­ness for peo­ple receiv­ing fed­er­al assistance
  • Tax cred­its for teachers
  • A ban on mil­i­tary grade “assault weapons”, along with buy­back pro­grams and uni­ver­sal back­ground checks
  • Medicare for All
  • Decrim­i­nal­iz­ing the act of cross­ing the border

On the last point, Cas­tro gained atten­tion dur­ing the June debate when he clashed with fel­low Tex­an Beto O’Rourke on whether cross­ing the U.S.–Mexico bor­der should be decrim­i­nal­ized. Cas­tro sup­ports decrim­i­nal­iza­tion while O’Rourke’s plan is less clear. Castro’s favor­a­bil­i­ty jumped up for his clear stance on immi­grants’ rights after the debate, but that nev­er trans­lat­ed into an increase in the polls.

Cas­tro didn’t help him­self in the Sep­tem­ber debate with an attack on Joe Biden that implied that the sev­en­ty-six year-old was los­ing his mem­o­ry; his favor­a­bil­i­ty dropped sharply, as many Democ­rats per­ceived his com­ment to be mean-spirited.

In con­trast to can­di­dates such as Eliz­a­beth War­ren, Beto O’Rourke, or Kamala Har­ris – who have expe­ri­enced dra­mat­ic shifts in their polling num­bers – Castro’s nation­al polling aver­age has remained at around 1% for the entire­ty of the race.

So far, sev­en can­di­dates have dropped out of the con­test for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion: Richard Oje­da, Eric Swal­well, Seth Moul­ton, John Hick­en­loop­er, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gilli­brand, and Bill de Blasio.

Adjacent posts