CASTRO LAUNCHES PAC TO HELP DEMOCRATS
Posted January 3, 2018 4:53 p.m. EST
AUSTIN - Former San Antonio mayor and U.S. HUD Secretary Julian Castro has publicly launched a political action committee to support Democratic Party efforts to take control of the U.S. House and gain seats in state legislatures.
Castro, who established the PAC last summer, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
He announced the public rollout in news media interviews.
He earlier had said the PAC will focus on securing Democratic control of the House, gaining seats in state legislatures for Democrats before the next round of redistricting in 2021, and prepping younger Democrats to run for office.
Castro, 43, frequently has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, and candidates considering a run for the nation's highest office often get involved in such midterm election campaigns as a way to build political networks for their own future races.
Paperwork filed last year to establish the PAC lists Castro as president.
Castro, who made Hillary Clinton's short list for vice president in 2016, repeatedly has said he has not made a decision on a presidential run.
So far, the PAC has supported lawyer Colin Allred, a former HUD official who worked for Castro, as a Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas, according to news reports.
It also backed two candidates who won their campaigns for seats in the Virginia General Assembly, earlier announcements show.
According to Politico, Castro also traveled last year to Georgia to help Democrat Jon Ossoff turn out voters ahead of a special House election there and endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum's campaign for governor in Florida.
Castro was elected to the San Antonio City Council in 2001. At age 26, he was the youngest councilman in the city's history. He was elected mayor in 2009, becoming the city's fifth Latino mayor and the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city.
His signature achievement was leading the 2012 voter referendum to increase the local sales tax to fund citywide prekindergarten education, called Pre-K 4 SA. The program's four centers, along with grants to fund Pre-K in school districts, will provide full-day education to 3,700 students this year.
Castro broke onto the national scene in 2012 with a well-received keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. President Barack Obama nominated him to his Cabinet in 2014.
Since he left the HUD post, he has since been traveling, writing his memoir and lending his name to several Democrats in local and congressional races, the Houston Chronicle reported in August.
Mark Jones, a political scientist at Houston's Rice University, said that heading such a PAC benefits Castro politically.
"It's a step toward building a national political network and burnishes his credentials as a national politician, not just a politician in Texas," Jones said. "You could look at it as him laying a foundation for 2020, either in helping him get a plum cabinet position in the next administration should the Democrats win, or in aiding his own future political ambitions. Everyone he helps get elected to the U.S. House or other office is someone who can help him."