Don't know much about Julián Castro? Here are a few things about the candidate

Where is he from, what has he done and how do you pronounce his name?

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By Suzanne Gamboa

Some debate watchers may have finished watching the first Democratic debate wondering, who is Julián Castro?

Though he has been around politics most of his life, polls has shown he’s had very little name identification.

But he has generated a lot of attention after Wednesday night. Here are a few things you may want to know about the candidate who wants to be the one to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

What's in a name?

Castro's first name is pronounced hool-YAHN, not JEWEL-ee-ahn.

How old is he?

Castro is 44. His birthday is Sept. 16, 1974.

Does Castro have any experience in government?

Castro was the youngest person elected to the San Antonio City Council, when he won a race at age 26.

He was elected three times as mayor of San Antonio, one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. and overwhelmingly Hispanic. It also has a strong military and health industry presence. His signature achievement was getting voters to approve a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase to pay for a full-day, quality pre-K program.

Castro served as mayor from 2009 to 2014, when he was tapped by President Barack Obama to be the Housing and Urban Development secretary. Castro likes to tell crowds he got the call from Obama for that job while he was at a Panda Express drive-thru.

Isn't he in Congress?

No. That’s his identical twin brother, Joaquín Castro, who is a congressman from Texas.

Julián Castro says he’s a minute older, and Joaquín likes to say Julián is a minute uglier. The two often are confused, even by the news media, and they don’t make it easy because they often are together.

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Has he run for president in the past?

No, but he was on Hillary Clinton’s short list of people she considered to be her running mate in 2016. Castro also was dubbed the “Latino Obama” after he delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

What's his ethnicity/race?

Castro was born in the United States and so were his parents. His grandmother was from Mexico, but some of his ancestors were in Texas when it was still part of Mexico and before the international border was drawn.

What about his childhood?

Castro’s mother, Rosie Castro, and grandmother Victoria raised him and his brother, although their father, who left when they were 8, returned for some trips and visits with them.

His mother attended college, but her work as a Chicana community and political activist was not high-paying. Castro described in his memoir, "An Unlikely Journey," times when friends dropped off food for the family and his mother struggled to pay rent. His grandmother cleaned houses.

How did he do in school?

The Castro brothers both attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

Castro has described himself as a good student growing up, always competitive with his brother, and has said that the only course he failed was music. He has said he couldn’t afford to screw up as a youth, because he knew that few people from his background got second chances, so he had to make the most of his education.

Is he married? Does he have kids?

Castro is married to Erica, an elementary instructional math coach in a San Antonio school district. He has two children, Carina, 10 and Cristián, 4.

Does he speak Spanish?

Castro grew up with a grandmother who spoke Spanish and so he understands it, but he is not a native Spanish speaker. He has learned to speak more Spanish in recent years but is still apprehensive about using it.

He’s not unlike many U.S.-born Latinos who become more English dominant with each generation.

How is he doing in the polls?

Before Wednesday night’s debate, Castro was far down in most polls, usually getting not more than 3 percent. But in polls that surveyed more Latinos, he's performed far better.

What have been some of his campaign events?

Campaigns are loaded with many moments. Castro has grabbed some attention previously for visiting underground tunnels in Nevada where many homeless live. He visited residents in Flint, Michigan, where he unveiled his policy on lead poisoning.

He was well received at the MoveOn conference and the California Democratic Party convention when he articulated his police reform proposals, saying the names of several victims of police shootings. His first campaign visit after announcing he was running was to Puerto Rico where he criticized President Donald Trump's handling of the island's post-hurricane recovery.

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