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Julian Castro says O’Rourke’s future no factor in 2020 bid

FILE - In this June 22, 2018, file photo, Julian Castro speaks at the start of the general session at the Texas Democratic Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. Castro said Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, that his decision on whether to jump into the 2020 presidential race won't be influenced by whether Texas' other big Democratic star, Beto O'Rourke, also makes a White House run.(AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez, File)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Julian Castro said Friday that his decision about running in 2020 won’t be influenced by whether Texas’ other high-profile Democrat, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, also makes his own bid for the White House.

Texas is a pipeline of presidential contenders, churning out several major Republican candidates since 2000 alone, including former President George W. Bush. But not since 1976 has a Texas Democrat made a serious run.

Now, however, Texas has two Democrats whose names are being tossed around: Castro, the 44-year-old former housing secretary under President Barack Obama, and O’Rourke, whose surprisingly close loss to U.S. Sen Ted Cruz last week has Democrats believing that the GOP’s decades-long grip on Texas is starting to slip.

Castro has said his candidacy is “likely” and has begun talking to potential donors. O’Rourke, on the other hand, said late in his Senate campaign that he wouldn’t run for president , but his narrow defeat has reignited speculation.

Speaking at conference on Mexican-American civil rights in San Antonio, Castro said he hasn’t talk to O’Rourke about his future but said it won’t impact his decision.

“You’re going to have a whole range of people that are going to run. What other people are doing is not going to affect what I do,” Castro said. “If I make a decision to run, it’s going to be because I believe that I have a strong vision for the future of the country, and that has nothing to do with any other candidate.”

Castro, who attended O’Rourke’s election-night party in El Paso, wouldn’t say what he might like to see O’Rourke do next.

“I’m not going to speculate,” Castro said. “Like I wouldn’t speculate for anybody else. I’m not commenting on any of the other people, either. I assume that we’re going to have a very crowded field.”

Castro has spent much of his political career being discussed as a potential presidential candidate since he was elected San Antonio mayor at age 34. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a Democratic congressman.

Julian Castro would be a prominent Latino candidate in the 2020 field, and during a discussion Friday about progress in civil rights for Mexican Americans, Castro called the midterm elections significant “because the narrative coming out of it was that the Latino community pushed back.”

Democratic leaders said this week that in early voting, compared to the previous midterm election, Latinos increased their participation by 174 percent in 2018 .

Joining Castro at Our Lady of the Lake University was Henry Cisneros, another former San Antonio mayor who, like Castro, would later become the nation’s housing secretary. When Cisneros reminded the audience that Castro was considering a 2020 run, several people shouted “Do it!”

Castro said he is still reaching out to people as he gets closer to making a decision.

“The 2018 election was one sort of message from the American people,” Castro said. “But you also get a sense from just listening to folks on the ground what they’re looking for in the next couple years.”

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

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