By Jim Ellis
Jan. 6, 2020 — Saying that it simply “isn’t our time,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced late last week that he is ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination now, exactly one month before the campaign’s first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucuses.
Castro, who served the final two-and-a-half years of the Obama Administration in the president’s cabinet after a five-year stint as mayor of San Antonio and previously being elected to one term on the city council, was one of the first candidates to enter the 2020 presidential campaign. Beginning the race as a little-known political figure despite serving in a national office, Castro couldn’t get his campaign untracked. He never came close to attaining high single digit support in any poll, even when including those from his home state of Texas.
On the money front, Castro raised slightly over $10 million for his national effort. Through Sept. 30, he attracted $7.6 million in financial backing with estimates of approximately $3.5 million for his final quarter in the race. Castro qualified for participation in four of the six national candidate forums, taking a major risk in one of them that proved to backfire.
Attempting to put distance between himself and the other contenders, Castro launched an attack on former Vice President Joe Biden in the September debate from Houston, challenging whether the former VP could even remember his statement from the previous few minutes. Presumably attempting to prove himself a leader capable of asking the tough questions and demanding accountability, Castro instead came across, many said, as disrespectful to Biden and mean-spirited.
His campaign never gained steam after that performance, failing to qualify for the November and December candidate debates. At that point, Castro’s campaign for the nomination was doomed.
With the year closing on the campaign finance period as well as the calendar, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) again looks to have topped the Democratic field in fundraising for 2019’s final quarter. The Sanders campaign spokespeople indicate the senator’s presidential campaign financial disclosure statement will show more than $34.5 million raised for the quarter, meaning his 2020 campaign-to-date receipt figure will exceed $109 million, well ahead of his colleagues.
By contrast, however, President Trump’s campaign will report $46 million raised for the quarter with another $125 million going to the Republican National Committee.
Two other candidates also released their 4th quarter receipt figures. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg again recorded a stellar fundraising performance, obtaining $24.7 million during the past 12 weeks. His campaign-to-date contribution total now exceeds $76 million.
Businessman Andrew Yang also had an impressive 4th quarter, bringing in over $16.5 million. The virtual unknown at the campaign’s outset has now seen 13 other candidates, all with elected bases, depart the contest, yet Yang remains and appears to be gaining strength. He has now raised more than $31 million for his upstart political effort. Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have yet to release their latest fundraising figures.
At this point, 14 candidates remain active in the race, but it is probable that only four have a serious chance to win the nomination, assuming the battle does not end in an open convention.
The first-tier candidates are, of course, Biden and Sanders along with Warren, while Buttigieg meanders between single and double digits and consistently finishes fourth in national polling. He is a factor, however, to win the Iowa Caucuses and possibly do well in the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mr. Yang, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) are fighting for fifth and sixth places. Bringing up the rear are Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, ex-Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), and author Marianne Williamson.