Julián Castro looks to help young candidates surf 2018 Democratic wave

6:48 p.m Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 Texas News & Politics
Stephen Spillman
Former U.S Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro speaks before a screening of the film “LBJ” at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs on Oct. 23.

Julián Castro, who at 26 became the youngest member of San Antonio City Council in history, launched Tuesday a new political action committee to help promising young Democratic candidates across the nation this year.

Castro, now 43, formed the PAC Opportunity First over the summer but began fundraising in earnest with an email Tuesday.

Opportunity First has only made three $1,000 contributions so far. One was to Colin Allred, 34, who worked in the general counsel’s office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development where Castro was President Barack Obama’s last housing secretary. Allred is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, in the 32nd Congressional District. The other two candidates to receive money from Castro’s PAC — Kathy Tran, 39, and Lee Carter, 30 — were successful candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates in November.

Asked whether he expects a big Democratic wave in reaction to President Donald Trump in the 2018 midterm elections, Castro said Tuesday, “I believe that we are dealing with a Category 3 or Category 4 wave — the only question is its intensity, but it’s going to be a significant wave.”

“I believe that Democrats are going to take back the House, and I believe that (U.S. Rep.) Beto O’Rourke has a shot at beating (U.S. Sen.) Ted Cruz,” said Castro, dismissing a new poll released by the Cruz campaign and conducted by a firm headed by a Cruz adviser, which put Cruz up 18 points over O’Rourke.

“It’s not a surprise that his own poll would show that, but I don’t believe there is that much of a gap,” Castro said.

In addition to the PAC contributions, Castro plans to campaign across the country for Democratic candidates this year.

“My plan is to get going this winter and in the coming months, between now and November, get across the country and help these candidates,” Castro said. “One of the advantages of not running myself in 2018 is that I can help out people who are running.”

“It’s also about lending support and, as someone who ran for office when I was young and had that experience, lending any advice that I can give and getting out in those districts where it makes sense and when I’m invited,” Castro said.

The travel will also give Castro a chance to sound out his own potential as a presidential candidate in 2020.

“I’ve been straightforward that I’m thinking about that, but first I am going to focus on 2018 and the people who are actually on the ballot, and then after the election in November make a decision about my own future,” he said.

Castro, who is teaching at the University of Texas, is also completing work on a memoir, which is due to be published right around the time he could announce whether he plans to run for president.

View full experience