In Beto O'Rourke's Shadow, Julián Castro Brings Long-shot Presidential Campaign to Dallas

Julián Castro is fighting to stay relevant in a presidential race that includes a large field of candidates and Texas' most popular Democrat.On Tuesday, Texas' "other" Democratic Party candidate for president is visiting Dallas for a fundraiser and what's described as an opportunity for local party faithful to hear about his campaign.The event, at St. Pete's Dancing Marlin in Deep Ellum, has been advertised by the Dallas County Democratic Party and is sponsored by the Stanton law firm.It's the former San Antonio mayor and former Housing Secretary's second visit to Dallas since January, when he launched his presidential campaign.Since then former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso has joined the contest, an addition that further obscures Castro's candidacy.O'Rourke has dominated the political news cycle and raised $6.1 million on the first day of his announcement.And just as O'Rourke gets rolling, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the crowded field in the coming weeks.Undaunted, Castro has an active campaign schedule, including a Monday swing through New Hampshire, a critical early primary state."It doesn't change his ideas for what the county can be," said Jennifer Fiore, a senior adviser for Castro's campaign, of O'Rourke's entry into the race. "It doesn't change how he runs his campaign."Some Texas Democrats say Castro shouldn't be underestimated."He's starting from zero mph. If he gets to 60, it's going to take some time," said Texas political consultant Harold Cook. "He needs to keep plugging away."Cook said Castro, who is struggling in the polls and hasn't raised the kind of money as O'Rourke and many of his other rivals, should not be counted out.The field is not totally set yet, and debates, blunders and surges by candidates could change the dynamic of the race before and after the Iowa and New Hampshire contests.Castro, the only major Hispanic candidate in the race, is hoping to do well in Nevada, which would set him up nicely for the March Texas primary. That would provide a Lone Star showdown between the state's favorite sons.The former San Antonio mayor is using both his life and work experience to make the case that he's the best choice to beat Donald Trump next year.Fiore said Castro has the executive experience of running a major city and the federal experience of running the Housing Department, which has over 8,000 employees.Castro's maternal grandmother immigrated from Mexico, and supporters say his personal story contrasts well with Trump, who wants to build a wall along the nation's southern border with Mexico."He has a personal stake in it," Fiore said of Castro. "His grandmother crossed the border at Eagle Pass...His family story is quite unique."Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, heard Castro address the group's National Women's Conference in Las Vegas over the weekend.Garcia said Castro could benefit from Hispanic voters in Iowa, Nevada, Texas and California."He's got to find a way to get into the top tier of candidates," Garcia said. "He could come out of the early primary states and Super Tuesday in the top three, if he manages to hold on."Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, Domingo Garcia's wife, said Castro's experience could make the difference."The candidate with experience has a better chance to hit the ground running and do the job well," Elba Garcia said. "But there are a lot of good candidate in the race and one of them raised six million dollars on his first day. It's going to be a hard way to the top."O'Rourke has made it even harder for Castro, said Rice political scientist Mark Jones."Julian Castro was always a long shot," he said. "With Beto O'Rourke entering the race he becomes an ultra-long shot." Still, Jones said Castro could do well with Hispanic voters, particularly in Nevada and Texas, which could set him up for a job in a new administration."If he does well enough with Hispanic voters he could become a valuable ally for one of the candidates that makes it through the Super Tuesday gauntlet," he said.Castro does have support in North Texas. U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, who worked under Castro in the Housing Department, has endorsed his former boss. State Reps. Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Terry Meza of Irving also are backing Castro.Last week, on the day O'Rourke launched his campaign, Castro released a list of 30 Texas supporters, including 17 state legislators and two state senators."He's been in the fight with me a long time," said Anchia, who said he promised Castro a year ago he would support him. "That counts for a lot."When asked whether Castro could seriously challenge for the nomination, perhaps being in the race for a long time, Anchia said it was possible."Time will tell," he said. "There are a lot of great people to choose from."  Continue reading...

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