AUSTIN (KXAN) — Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro released a list of 33 Texas endorsements Thursday morning. The timing is significant because it was the same morning former Congressman Beto O’Rourke officially announced he was running for President as well.
The two Texans will face off like they’ve never before.
“Look, primaries actually make for better candidates. The idea that someone should have a clear field for a primary so they can have a strong general, I don’t agree with,” said Progress Texas Executive Director Ed Espinoza. “I think primaries are really where candidates are tested.”
Thursday marks the official start of a mad-scramble between two Texans to gather support, endorsements, money and volunteers in the ever-crowded Democratic primary for President. The winner will likely face incumbent President Donald Trump in November 2020.
Castro has the support of three Congressmen: his brother Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, Rep. Collin Allred, D-Dallas, and Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, D-McAllen. They join two state senators, 16 state representatives, two county commissioners, one county judge, one district attorney, six San Antonio city council members, and former Congressman Solomon Ortiz and Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio Mayor.
One of them is Round Rock state representative James Talarico.
“I used to teach middle school in the neighborhood he grew up in, in San Antonio, while he was Mayor. So, I saw his commitment to educational opportunity,” said Rep. Talarico.
For Talarico it’s a decision based on relationship. He got to know Castro better during his time as San Antonio Mayor.
“I think it’s everything — the fact that I can personally attest to his leadership and his commitment to the causes that I care about,” said Talarico.
The Chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas legislature backs Castro over O’Rourke as well.
“I consider both Secretary Castro and Congressman O’Rourke close friends. Through my years in public service, I know firsthand Julián’s commitment to improving the lives of all Americans,” wrote Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, to KXAN. “I was honored earlier this year to offer my endorsement for his candidacy as president as I still am today.”
Texas voters, according to a poll by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, tell us they still need to know more about Castro. From February 2019, O’Rourke leads Castro among Democrats 85 to 51 but 23 percent of Texans didn’t know enough of Castro to make an opinion.
Supporters of Castro say he has the leg up on O’Rourke and the other candidates because he’s been a Mayor and he’s also led a huge Federal Agency, the Department of Housting and Urban Development.
Thursday, O’Rourke picked up the endorsement of El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice.
“I have endorsed Beto O’Rourke in every election he’s run — including this exciting run for President of the United States — because he is an extraordinary public servant, driven by compassion and a desire to unify,” wrote Escobar on Facebook.
This weekend O’Rourke will be in Iowa; Castro will be in South Carolina.