Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Joining what is expected to be a large list of Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, Julián Castro is touting his experience in the Obama administration and local politics and his progressive ideas on climate change and healthcare.
The former Housing and Urban Development secretary and mayor of San Antonio launched his bid to return to Washington, D.C., earlier this month, saying "it's time for new leadership" and "it's time for new energy."
"There are going to be a lot of talented people running and I look forward to making my case to the voters," Castro, 44, said during remarks in San Antonio's Plaza Guadalupe on Jan. 13.
With many more Democrats announcing their own bids or exploratory committees and a number of other maybes -- former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas -- Castro jumped in early to spread his message and make a name for himself.
"When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I'm sure she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America," he said, referring to his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.
The Castro twins became politically active during their time at Stanford University, where they won student senate seats, each tying for the most votes among all candidates. During his undergraduate years, Julián Castro also worked as a White House intern during the administration of President Bill Clinton.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2000, the brothers worked in law, and in 2001, Julián Castro became the youngest member of the San Antonio City Council in its history. His first bid for mayor in 2005 was unsuccessful, but in 2009, he won his second bid. He was re-elected twice.
As mayor, Castro worked to expand prekindergarten offerings and created Cafe College to give guidance to college-bound students.
In 2012, he became the first Hispanic to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., telling the audience that opportunities Americans invest in today lead to prosperity in the future.
"In the end, the American dream is not a sprint or even a marathon, but a relay," he said. "Our families don't always cross finish line in one generation, but passes on to the next the fruits of their labor."
Julián Castro's turn on the national stage caught the attention of President Barack Obama, who nominated him to replace outgoing HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in May 2014. The Senate confirmed Castro with a vote of 71-26.
At the conclusion of Obama's presidency, Castro touted HUD's accomplishments in a memo, pointing to stabilization in housing markets in the wake of the Great Recession, assistance to homeowners affected by a slew of natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy and increasing access to high-speed Internet for residents in public housing.
On the issues
In his campaign announcement speech, Castro supported a number of progressive ideas, including Medicare for all and and the so-called Green New Deal championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to get the United States to 100 percent renewable energy. He promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and invest in environmentally friendly practices.
He also called for criminal justice and prison reform, pointing to the instances of people of color being killed by police officers.
"If police in Charleston can arrest Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people worshiping at Bible study, without hurting him, then don't tell me that Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and Aiyana Jones and Eric Garner and Jason Pero and Stephon Clark and Sandra Bland shouldn't still be alive today," he said. "We're going to keep saying their names and those of too many others just like them who were victims of state violence."
Castro also vowed to take his free prekindergarten initiative in San Antonio to a national level.
If elected, Castro would become the third-youngest president in U.S. history. His twin brother is acting as his campaign manager.