Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is gathering a group of Democratic party financiers on Wednesday for a private breakfast as he looks to amass a 2020 campaign war chest.
“If you would like to (1) get in on the ground floor of a presidential campaign for a talented, dynamic young Texan and (2) help make Texas, after more than 20 years, once again competitive in state and national general elections, keep reading,” the emailed invitation reads. The invite was obtained by CNBC on Monday.
It asks donors to join Castro and his brother Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) in Houston to “hear whether rumors that he will run for President are true and, if so, to discuss his plans and, if he decides to run, how we can help, financially and otherwise.”
The call for the meeting is signed by Scott Atlas, a high profile Houston attorney who previously backed Rep. Beto O’Rourke during his run for Senate against Republican Ted Cruz.
O’Rourke created a formidable nationwide donor apparatus in the last election and Castro is going to need to start raking in the cash early if he’s going to stand a chance against him.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Atlas gave at least $1,000 to O’Rourke’s campaign committee. He declined to comment for this story and referred CNBC to Castro’s exploratory committee. A representative for Castro did not return a request for comment.
Congressman Castro, however, made a tongue-in-cheek announcement for his twin brother when he said on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ on Friday that he will be running. “I’ll speak on his behalf here. He’s going to run for president,” Castro said. The former head of HUD announced he set up an exploratory committee for a possible presidential campaign last week.
O’Rourke captivated the Democratic Party as he came within three percentage points of taking down Cruz in the deep red state of Texas.
The liberal darling has said he is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. The three term congressman has been engaging with the likes of former President Barack Obama and some of his campaign advisors while mulling his options after his term on Capitol Hill comes to an end in January. Others who are considering running include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders.
The latest records show O’Rourke raised over $80 million but finished the 2018 election cycle with $476,000 on hand.
Donors who backed the Texas congressman are already preparing to support him over Castro if he chooses to run for president.
“Probably, because I think he would have a better chance,” Harry Susman, a lawyer and O’Rourke donor from Susman Godfrey LLP, said after being asked if he would support the former Senate nominee over Castro. “They’re both great but I think Beto has a better chance nationally than Castro does. His fundraising showing is his number one calling card if he runs for president.”