Saturday, May 25, 2024

Castro’s 2020 campaign focused on Latinos, but needs broader appeal to win

With more than a dozen Democrats now vying for president, Julian Castro is charting a path unlike any of the others, as his visit to California yesterday made clear.

The former San Antonio mayor and Housing secretary under President Obama took questions from a Chicano studies class at UCLA. He did a television interview with Univision anchor León Krauze and in South L.A., he led a roundtable of black and Latino neighborhood activists.

Castro is the only Latino in the race at a time when many Democrats are appalled by President Trump’s fight to block immigrants from entering the U.S. from Mexico. So Castro, whose grandmother immigrated from Mexico, has set his sights on scoring delegates in states with big Latino populations, among them California, Nevada and Texas.

“It’s important from a historical perspective, but in the nuts and bolts of winning the nomination, a purely Latino candidacy is not going to make it,” said Roberto Suro, director of USC’s Tomás Rivera Policy Institute. “To give him credit, I don’t think he’s basing his entire campaign only on the Latino vote, the challenge here is whether a Latino-oriented campaign can have broader appeal.”

Castro has vowed to campaign in all 50 states to show that “everybody counts.” His overarching goal, though, has been to build support among Latinos and younger voters.

His first campaign stop was Puerto Rico, an alluring source of delegates. Last week, he spoke in Salt Lake City to MEChA, the Chicano student group, and met in North Las Vegas with DREAMers. For now, Castro is stuck in a lower tier of candidates facing better-known and, most likely, better-funded rivals, such as Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. That higher echelon will soon expand if former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas join the race.