Obama's Former HUD Secretary Forms Presidential Exploratory Committee

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro / Getty Images
December 12, 2018

President Barack Obama's former secretary of housing and urban development, Julian Castro, announced Wednesday that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee to consider a possible White House run in 2020.

The Texas Democrat told the Associated Press that he will announce his decision on a presidential bid on Jan. 12. Forming an exploratory committee is a common first step for people thinking about running for president. It allows future candidates to begin fundraising.

"I know where I'm leaning, for sure," Castro said.

In an interview back in October, Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, said that he will "likely" run for president.

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is expected to be crowded, with more than two dozen Democrats publicly stating that they are thinking about a White House run. Castro is not worried about a crowded field, however, and does not seem concerned about his position in early polling.

"People might say right now, 'Well, hey, you're way down here in polling that's taken.' The most dangerous place to be right now is actually in the pole position," Castro said. "It doesn't bother me that in December of 2018 I'm not right up at the top of the list. If I decide to run, it would be because I believe I have a compelling message and I'm going to work hard and get to the voters and I believe I can be successful."

So far, Rep. John Delaney (D., Md.) is the only Democrat to declare his formal candidacy. Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) will make a decision on whether to run before the end of the year, according to reports.

Castro also told the AP that he believes President Donald Trump has treated the Latino community like a "pinata" and that someone from the community should be a voice in the primary.

"We can't go through the 2020 cycle with nobody on that stage because of what's happened over the last couple of years," Castro said.

Castro served as secretary of housing and urban development from 2014 to 2017, and was considered as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, serves as a Democratic congressman from Texas.