Julián Castro challenges Iowa’s place in the nominating process

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DES MOINES, IA—Standing in front of the Iowa flag, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro told a room full of Iowans on Tuesday evening why he doesn’t think Iowa should retain its status as the first state to caucus. 

Giving up first in-the-nation primary status proved to be an unpopular premise here in Des Moines at Drake University. Castro faced several questions, including the move potentially erasing the progress people of color have made in Iowa through the caucus process.

His proposal could be a risky political strategy, given these same folks will head to their caucus precincts in less than two months to vote.

In recent months, Castro has registered between 0-1% in Iowa polls, and 1-2% nationally. In Texas, he garners 3% of the primary electorate. And he has yet to qualify for next week’s presidential debate.

“I’m convinced that in this era of a completely untruthful president that people want truth as I see it, even if they disagree with it,” Castro told Texas Signal. “My hope is that people can respect that I believe we need to change our presidential nominating process, even if they have strong feelings about Iowa holding on to its first caucus status.” 

Castro has been making headlines —and ruffling feathers —in Iowa for proposing that in future presidential cycles, a different state should get to go first in the presidential primary process.

Iowa largely benefits from its first caucus status – the media market and accompanying influx of advertising, the state economy with hotel rooms, rental cars and restaurants, and even its colleges and universities through increased interest in the state and politics. 

“I completely respect people’s opinions, value their perspective, recognize that there are good aspects of what Iowa and New Hampshire do, but ultimately, there’s a better way to do this,” Castro said. “The DNC should form a task force before the 2024 process, to evaluate how it could nominate a president in a way that reflects the values that we have [as Democrats] for accessibility at the voting booth, and the diversity of the party better than how we’re doing it today.” 

Castro is trying to tackle the challenge of changing the presidential nominating process in the U.S., before he would potentially run again for the highest U.S. public office. 

“It’s not about guaranteeing an outcome, but…about making sure everyone’s voice has the same weight,” Castro said.  

He pointed to his age as one of the younger candidates in the race, just 45 years old, and said that if Iowa’s role in the primary doesn’t change, it would be an issue for his candidacy again in the future. 

“If it’s catastrophe to bring this up, that means if I ever wanted to run again in the future, the same thing applies.” 

Castro also shared with The Signal his view of Texas’ destiny next November. 

“Texas is moving away from Donald Trump and the Republicans, especially in the suburbs of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, because people have had enough with the president who seems to only want to serve himself instead of serving the people of the country,” Castro said. “…I believe that in November of 2020, Democrats can beat John Cornyn, they can take back the state legislature, and give the 38 electoral votes of the state of Texas to the Democratic nominee for president, and I hope to be that nominee.” 

As for Castro’s goals come February 3 and beyond, he gives the answer reporters have come to expect from folks low in the polls: beat expectations.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

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