Washed up? Julian Castro misses deadline for November debate


The deadline to meet the DNC’s qualifying thresholds for its November debate was Wednesday. Julian Castro failed to meet the polling threshold. This gives Castro a distinction from the other Democrat candidates running for president – he is the only candidate that was on the debate stage in October but won’t be in November.

The writing is on the wall, yet he persists. Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang will all be on the stage when the Democrats debate in Atlanta on November 20. Remember when Castro said that if he didn’t qualify for the November debate that his campaign would be over? Well, he didn’t meet the higher thresholds for this debate and now he’s putting his hopes into doing well in Iowa, Nevada, and Texas. That seems more like a wish than a plan, though. He’s currently at only 1% in Iowa and even worse in Nevada at 0.8%. Even in Texas, his home state, Castro is at 3%. Where is the path to victory in any of these states?

He met the donor threshold but not one qualifying poll toward the polling threshold. He can successfully raise money to keep going but isn’t catching on with actual voters. This is now looking like just another vanity run. Let’s be honest, what else does he have to do? His calendar was probably pretty much open when he got into the race. At this point he’s just hanging on to be in the contest for a vice-presidential candidate, like a lot of the others, to be fair. He’s the only Latino in the race so he’s got that going for him. There’s no way the Democrats will run with a ticket of two white guys. Frankly, I think one of the two – either president or vice-president – will have to be a woman. Elizabeth Warren might choose him but I doubt Joe Biden would do so.

Castro isn’t stupid, he knows his time is limited. He’s already begun to jump out on a limb and point a finger at a reason for his failure. He said the first two states in the nomination process are too white. One of his former college professors blames the national media for not giving Castro’s campaign enough attention. The whiff of victimhood is getting strong.

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The country has changed over the last nearly 50 years since the order of states’ voting became all but set in stone, Castro said while speaking in Iowa.

“I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first. And that’s just the truth of the way I see it,” he said.

Luis Fraga, who directs the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, has a perspective dating back to Castro’s undergrad days at Stanford University when he was a professor and adviser to both Julián and his twin brother, Joaquin Castro.

“I think that Julián will fight until he has no resources with which to fight any more, and that he will continue to campaign along the lines of his values and beliefs,” said Fraga, who traveled to San Antonio for Julián’s announcement when he entered the race for the Democratic nomination.

“I think he’s been considerably hurt by the limited national coverage he has received. His challenges were not unlike Latino communities face in getting their issues at the forefront of our national press.”

His battle only gets tougher going forward. In order to qualify for the December debate, he will have to meet higher thresholds. He’ll only be able to do that if he can inspire enough potential voters to move to him. His biggest problem, to be honest, is that he really hasn’t given a reason for his candidacy, other than the Latino angle. He’s to the far left in most policies but so are most of the other candidates. There really isn’t anything to distinguish him as a star. He just doesn’t have anything special to offer. Or, if he does, he’s not able to articulate what exactly it is.

Since he’ll miss out on national exposure in the November debate, he’ll have to work harder beginning now to get on the stage in December. His most recent campaign finance report in October shows only $672,000 on hand, which is not nearly enough for an effective national campaign. The higher thresholds for the November debate didn’t really whittle down the number of candidates on the stage as there will still be 10 candidates but it was enough to eliminate Julian Castro. He may not be able to hold on until Texas votes on Super Tuesday.

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