Julian Castro Launches 2020 Exploratory Bid 'to Climb Out of This Darkness'

Democrat Julian Castro san antonio

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary who had frequently been mentioned as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton is officially exploring a run for the White House in 2020.

Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 44, is the son of a Chicana activist who helped found the National United People’s Party, or La Raza Unida, in the 1970s. In a video message announcing his decision, Castro lauded his mother as "the strongest person I’ve ever known."

"Two generations after my grandmother arrived here with nothing, my brother was a member of Congress and I served in President Obama’s cabinet," he noted.

Castro's twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), has represented the 20th District, which includes western San Antonio, since 2013.

Julian Castro outlined in the announcement some of his priorities: eliminating student debt, retirement security for seniors, and environmental protection.

"I believe we can make a promise to people with black and brown skin, people who wear turbans and hijabs and yarmulkes, that you can walk down the street in your community — in any community — and feel safe," he said. "I believe we can make a promise to all Americans: If you’re sick, you can go to the doctor. If you work hard, your kids can get ahead.

"And I believe we can make a promise to immigrants who spend a lifetime imagining how it will feel the day they arrive in America: We have room for you. We welcome you. Our destinies are united."

Castro declared that "Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness."

His exploratory process, he said, would involve "talking with folks over the next several weeks" before announcing his decision on Jan. 12 in Texas. Federal Election Commission rules for exploratory committees include not "raising more money than what is reasonably needed to test the waters or funds to be used after candidacy is established."

Castro faces 2020 competition on his home turf, though. A MoveOn.org straw poll released Tuesday ranked Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) as the second-most-favored presidential pick right now for progressives at 15.6 percent -- trailing "someone else/don't know" with 17.9 percent.

Castro came in 18th on the list, with 0.48 percent of those polled picking the former HUD secretary.