Julián Castro launches PAC, fueling speculation about 2020 presidential run

Julián Castro launches PAC, fueling speculation about 2020 presidential run
A newly formed PAC launched by Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, has fueled speculation of a 2020 presidential run. When asked if establishing this PAC was a precursor to a 2020 presidential run, Castro deflected the question. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro launched a political action committee to support Democratic candidates on Tuesday, fueling speculation that he may throw his hat into the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

What’s his story?

Castro was once considered a bright young star within the Democratic party ranks, and many have speculated that he would one day run for president. He was considered an early frontrunner for the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 2016, but that bid was derailed when the U.S. Office of Special Counsel issued an opinion in the weeks leading up to the convention indicating that Castro had committed Hatch Act violations during an April 2016 interview with Katie Couric on Yahoo News.

Why is the PAC significant?

Forming a PAC to support party candidates in off-year elections is frequently seen as a test of a politician’s viability as a presidential candidate, since doing so allows them to demonstrate national fundraising prowess, and further ingratiates them with important elected officials within the party. This is especially important on the Democratic side, where elected Democrats act as “superdelegates” to the Democratic National Convention, meaning that they have a direct hand in choosing the Democratic nominee for president.

According to the Texas Tribune, Castro’s PAC will be called Opportunity First and will have three principal aims: 1) gaining control of the United States House of Representatives, 2) electing Democrats to state legislatures in order to improve their lot in the 2021 redistricting process, and 3) supporting younger, progressive Democratic candidates.

When asked if establishing this PAC was a precursor to a 2020 presidential run, Castro deflected the question, saying, “The thrust of Opportunity First will be to support people who are running in the 2018 cycle. I’m happy to do it,” according to the Texas Tribune.

Who else is expected to throw their hat into the ring in 2020?

If Castro decides to run, he may have plenty of competition in what is already shaping up to be a crowded Democratic field. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are widely expected to run, and popular socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) has been coy about the possibility of a repeat bid for the Democratic nomination.

Castro served as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 through 2014, and as HUD secretary from 2014 through the end of former President Barack Obama’s second term.