Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced Thursday he was suspending his presidential campaign—pledging to continue fighting for working people, immigrants' rights, and to combat wealth inequality.
The Texas Democrat posted a video on Twitter thanking his campaign staff, volunteers, and supporters, and announcing that he's "determined that it simply isn't our time."
"We've shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people, and given a voice to those who are often forgotten," Castro said in the video. "It's with a heavy heart and profound gratitude that I will suspend my campaign for president."
It’s with profound gratitude to all of our supporters that I suspend my campaign for president today.
I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m going to keep fighting for an America where everyone counts—I hope you’ll join me in that fight. pic.twitter.com/jXQLJa3AdC
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) January 2, 2020
Although Castro failed to break through into the top tier of candidates, generally polling in the low single digits, he was recognized for centering working families, Americans living in poverty, and a number of progressive policy proposals throughout his campaign.
Castro began his campaign in January 2019 with a call for universal pre-kindergarten, which he enacted in San Antonio during his time as mayor of the city, and later put forward a plan to end hunger.
"In our politics today, we've forgotten to talk about the poor as intently as we've fought for the middle class," Castro told the New York Times. "We are focusing on the most vulnerable, the most forgotten, the people who need others fighting for them."
During his campaign, Castro met with marginalized people in a number of settings—speaking with inmates at a jail in Washington, D.C. about criminal justice reform, visiting people living in a homeless encampment in Oakland, and accompanying a refugee to a check-in at an ICE facility.
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) October 28, 2019
Two weeks ago I toured the homeless encampments in Oakland to hear from residents about the difficulties they face.
Many highlighted the unsafe living conditions that result in incidents like this. A safe, decent place to live shouldn’t be a privilege—it’s a human right. https://t.co/gZtOg17Aaa
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 9, 2019
Tomorrow I will meet with Jose Robinson, a Honduran refugee who fled his home after being recruited as a child soldier—but has not been granted asylum in the U.S.
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I will join advocates from across Iowa in escorting him to his check-in with ICE. pic.twitter.com/CGQntYye4P
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 11, 2019
Castro sparred with some of his opponents over immigrants' rights, notably telling former Vice President Joe Biden that Biden hadn't "learned the lessons of the past" at the July Democratic primary debate after Biden said immigrants could still be deported under his hypothetical administration for crossing the border.
He also challenged Beto O'Rourke after the former congressman said he would not decriminalize border crossings by eliminating Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. federal code, a proposal Castro pushed.
"I think it's a mistake, Beto, and I think if you truly want to change the system, then we got to repeal that section," Castro said on the debate stage in June.
Castro frequently spoke about black and Hispanic Americans killed by police officers and criticized the Democratic primary process, particularly the fact that Democrats in the largely-white states of Iowa and New Hampshire are the first to vote for their preferred nominee.
"We can’t go around thanking black women for powering Democrats to victory all over the country, and then at the same time hold our first caucus and our first primary in states that have almost no African-Americans," Castro told Vogue. "We're right to call Republicans out when they suppress the votes of African-Americans or Latinos, but we've also got to recognize that this 50-year-old process was created during a time when minority voices had zero power in the party."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of Castro's opponents, was among progressives offering praise to the former candidate on Thursday.
Thank you @JulianCastro for being a powerful voice, for proposing bold and progressive plans, and for using your campaign to help people who need it now. You made this race stronger—and you will continue to be a leader in our party and our country for many years to come. pic.twitter.com/SWlsDC9HcS
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 2, 2020
Grassroots groups including Move On and Indivisible also applauded Castro for centering "structural inequality" and working people in his campaign.
Julian Castro brought a commitment to big ideas that challenge structural inequality and systemic racism. The debate stages and the primary discourse were better for his contributions. We want to continue to hear his ideas & partner with him in his leadership for years to come. https://t.co/qK6hMv8Q6V
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) January 2, 2020
"Julián Castro changed the shape of this race by running a people-first campaign," tweeted Indivisible. "From his plan to fix our immigration system to tackling climate change, he made sure to lead with a moral voice and grassroots vision."