U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said Saturday that he will decide in eight weeks whether to run in 2018 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Ted Cruz.
Castro set the date for a decision in a Q&A session with reporters before speaking to crowd of about 300 supporters on a warm night in the courtyard at the Historic Scoot Inn in East Austin, which exploded in cheers and chants when, in answer to a direct question on the subject, he declared, “I am looking at the Senate race against Ted Cruz.”
“Ted Cruz has not spent a single day working for the people of Texas,” said Castro, who will also travel to Houston and Dallas as he makes up his mind about a race. “Ted Cruz tunes out most of Texas.”
Castro said that his twin brother, Julián, the former mayor of San Antonio who just finished a stint as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, wouldn’t challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018, foreclosing the possibility of the two twins leading the state Democratic ticket.
He said Julián will spend the next six to nine months writing a book.
“My brother is not going to run for governor in 2018, but we need to find a strong candidate for governor,” said Castro, who earlier said, “I’ll tell you, I don’t trust Greg Abbott.”
Every Republican governor of Texas “thinks he can be president,” he warned.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke told students at the University of Texas that he was likely to run for Cruz’s seat because, “if no one else is going to do it, I sure as hell am going to do it because, 2018, two years of Trump, six years of Cruz … if we don’t do this now, when the hell are we going to do it?”
Castro said of O’Rourke: “Beto and I are good friends in the Congress, and he’s a sharp, very passionate congressman, who does a great job for the people he represents.”
Castro also said he had no new information Saturday about immigration sweeps in South and Central Austin.
On Friday, Castro had confirmed that targeted operations were taking place in the area as part of a program that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is calling Operation Cross Check.
He said he was told by federal officials that the roundup would last five to eight days and he would receive more information when it was complete. Castro said he didn’t know whether the operation had been set in motion by the Obama administration, or if any nonviolent persons were being deported, though he said there were anecdotal reports on social media that that was the case.
Earlier Saturday, about a dozen people protested for a second day in North Austin against the recent crackdown on unauthorized immigration, a continuation of the previous night’s demonstration in the same place that drew more than 100 people.
The group gathered Saturday at about 12:30 p.m. at the corner of an H-E-B store on Rundberg Lane and North Lamar Boulevard. Protesters say a man was detained by ICE officials near the area Friday morning.
A video widely shared on social media Friday shows a handcuffed man sitting against a vehicle in front of a nearby Whataburger while officers who appear to be ICE agents walk around.