With the Iowa caucuses a month away, former Housing secretary Julián Castro said Thursday that he is ending his bid for the presidency. The announcement came in a four-minute video in which Castro said his campaign “shaped the conversation” on issues such as immigration and police reform, but also acknowledged the difficult “circumstances of this campaign season,” an apparent allusion to his inability to gain a foothold in a crowded Democratic primary.
For months, Castro has struggled to keep pace with the fundraising and polling of top-tier candidates. In October, he threatened to suspend his campaign if he wasn’t able to bring in $800,000 in ten days. He hit the goal, giving him a few more months in race. In November, one of his biggest fundraising days came during the Democratic debate, from which he was excluded.
Castro’s weak polling kept him out of the last two debates and led him to advocate for the Democratic National Committee to change its qualification criteria. The DNC said no. Castro also raised issues in recent months with Iowa and New Hampshire playing such a prominent role in the presidential nominating process.
“Iowa and New Hampshire are wonderful states with wonderful people,” he said in November. “But they’re also not reflective of the diversity of our country, and certainly not reflective of the diversity of the Democratic Party.”
After Kamala Harris’s departure from the race in December, Castro blamed the media for sidelining women and candidates of color.
At 45, Castro is a safe bet to stick around in politics. In the video posted Thursday, he vowed to “keep fighting for an America where everyone counts.” How he does that remains an open question. His name is sure to come up when there’s finally a Democratic nominee and that person is in need of a running mate. For now though, he’ll get to bask in the ritual that has emerged after candidates leave this Hunger Games–esque primary: glowing tributes from his former rivals.