McAllen’s Vicente Gonzalez endorses Julián Castro for president

    U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez on Monday endorsed Julián Castro for president, making Gonzalez the third Texas Democrat in Congress to endorse the former San Antonio mayor in a vast Democratic primary field that could feature another Texas Democrat, Beto O’Rourke.

    In a statement released by the Castro campaign and in a statement to The Monitor, Gonzalez did not mention O’Rourke’s name.

    “Throughout his career, Julián has been a champion for improving the lives of those he served—both in Texas and across the nation,” Gonzalez, D-McAllen, said in a statement released by the Castro campaign. “Having known Secretary Castro for years, I know firsthand his passion for expanding opportunity for the Latino community, people of color and historically disenfranchised communities, as well as his unparalleled dedication to building a bench of dynamic Democratic candidates in Texas and nationally. I’m proud to endorse his candidacy for President of the United States.”

    Gonzalez went further about Castro’s connection to the Latino community.

    “On the national stage, folks like to sometimes say we can’t find qualified candidates to fill national positions within the Latino community,” Gonzalez wrote in a text message. “Well, I found one and there are many more. I wouldn’t make this endorsement if he wasn’t up for the job. With that being said, there’s a treacherous road ahead in this crowded field. And only time will tell.”

    The only other members of the Texas Congressional delegation to endorse Castro have been his brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and Dallas Rep. Colin Allred, who worked for Julián Castro when the candidate was Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development under President Obama.

    The South Texas Congressional delegation — comprised of Gonzalez and Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville — had mostly stayed out of favoring candidates in the 2020 presidential campaign until Tuesday.

    After Gonzalez’s endorsement on Monday, Vela said he is waiting to see what O’Rourke will do. Speculation centered on O’Rourke launching a presidential campaign once the former El Paso congressman narrowly lost a 2018 Senate race to incumbent Ted Cruz.

    Fourteen Democrats have already announced presidential bids, with O’Rourke and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. perhaps the most high-profile possible candidates who have yet to say whether they will run.

    While Gonzalez and Vela campaigned alongside O’Rourke in the Rio Grande Valley as he ran for senate, Cuellar mostly did not get involved. Cuellar, like Vela, did not offer a presidential endorsement on Monday.

    “There are more than a dozen current candidates with seemingly more candidates announcing daily for an election that is about a year away,” Cuellar said in a prepared statement. “Right now I’m focused on my responsibilities as appropriator and Chief Deputy Whip, but will make time to visit with Secretary Castro, Beto O’Rourke and the other candidates closer to the election. Julian and Joaquin have been friends for many years and we have enjoyed a very successful working relationship, which I’m confident will continue regardless of any future positions we seek or hold.”

    Gonzalez and Vela have said they plan to host every Democrat running for president in 2020. So far, they’ve hosted one — former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-MD, in the fall.