By: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
Julián Castro, a struggling presidential hopeful who did not qualify for next week’s Democratic debate, is set to appear at an Arizona gathering of Democrats in December.
Castro, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary, previously has used the national stage to attack Democratic rival and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as his fellow Texan, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out of the crowded race last month.
Castro’s campaign officials said Castro cleared the debate’s contribution threshold but failed to meet the polling criteria.
The former San Antonio mayor is forging ahead with his campaign, criticizing the traditional Democratic nominating process that make two overwhelmingly white states — Iowa and New Hampshire — the first to weigh in among all 50 states.
Castro is set to bring that message to the Maricopa County Democratic Party’s Dec. 14 winter convention at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix.
“I’m here to tell you right now, we’re going to win,” Castro said in a statement announcing his attendance. “Our message of respect and equity for all walks of human life will defeat any hatred or bigotry coming from today’s White House.
“No matter who you support in this Democratic Presidential Primary, I’m here to reassure you that we are going take back the White House and we are going to turn Arizona blue.”
That starts with Maricopa County, he wrote, home of 60% of the state’s electorate.
Steven Slugocki, chairman of the party, said all of the party’s Democratic candidates for county offices will be introduced at the event.
“He wants to help engage new voters, people who didn’t vote before, young voters and a more diverse voting population,” Slugocki said.
Castro’s appearance will mark at least the third trip to Arizona in six months. In June, he appeared in Tempe for a nationally televised town hall on Fox News and in May, he met with voters in Flagstaff and downtown Phoenix.
The Democratic National Committee on Thursday confirmed these candidates have met the polling and grassroots fundraising threshold to appear on stage Wednesday at the fifth Democratic debate in Atlanta: Biden; Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; billionaire activist Tom Steyer of California; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang of New York.