"It has been a tough cycle to recruit candidates," former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro said Sunday about the challenges for Texas Democrats in 2018.
With 36 days until the filing deadline for Texas' 2018 primaries, concerns about Democrats' statewide ticket are coming into public view.
Party officials have insisted they're talking to a number of potential contenders, but the clock is ticking: Filing for the 2018 primaries begins in less than a week — Saturday — and ends a month later. Democrats currently have a serious U.S. Senate hopeful in Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso congressman, but the rest of their statewide ticket is less clear — particularly who will challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
At a panel discussion Sunday morning in Austin, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Wendy Davis, the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, acknowledged their party's difficult situation heading into 2018.
"I agree with you," Castro said when the moderator, Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, brought up the party's lack of statewide contenders. "It has been a tough cycle to recruit candidates."
Asked whether she would run for governor again next year, Davis replied, "I rule it out 99 percent." Pressed on why she would not rule it out entirely, she responded, "Because no one's stepping forward."
As for Castro, the former San Antonio mayor, months ago he ruled out running statewide in 2018. His twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, has been encouraged to mount a gubernatorial campaign, but he has said he plans to run for re-election to the U.S. House in 2018 — a statement that has nonetheless given his supporters hope he could still change his mind and challenge Abbott.
Asked Sunday if Joaquin Castro will run for governor, Julián Castro said he will not but noted "you probably have to ask him."
"I can only rule him out 99 percent," Julián Castro said with a laugh.
The former Cabinet official is eying a 2020 presidential run and continued to keep that possibility open Sunday, replying, "I might," when asked if he would make a White House bid in three years. He said he would decide "by the end of 2018."
"I think that whoever becomes the nominee of the Democratic Party is going to have to stand for the future — they're going to have to be everything that Trump is not," Castro said when prodded for his "30-second elevator pitch" for a potential White House run.