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Donors put Julián Castro closer to securing spot in Democrats' fall debates

"I am the candidate who can beat Donald Trump," says Castro, the only Latino in the race.
Image: Julian Castro speaks during the first night of the Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, on June 26, 2019.
Julian Castro stood out Wednesday on the first night of the Democratic presidential debate in Miami.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro has boosted his chances to take his 2020 presidential campaign to the debate stage this fall by snaring contributions from 130,000 unique donors.

Castro announced Monday that he had reached the milestone putting him closer to qualifying for the September and October Democratic debates, although he still has not yet polled well enough to seal his place.

"As our message spreads, we gain more and more supporters," Castro said in a statement. " I’m going to keep working hard every day to share a positive vision for our future and show that I am the candidate who can beat Donald Trump.”

With its crowded field, the Democratic National Committee has set rising thresholds for candidates to meet to be on stage at its debates. Castro qualified for the first two rounds, which were held on June 26-27 and the upcoming debates scheduled for July 30-31.

For the September-October debates, candidates must have at least 130,000 unique donors from at least 20 different states. In each state, a candidate must get at least 400 unique donors. The candidate also must score at least 2 percent in four national polls approved by the DNC.

Castro’s campaign said he has met the first two qualifiers but has polled above 2 percent in one poll so far.

The announcement comes as Castro and a few of the other Democratic candidates are scheduled to be in Wisconsin for town halls before the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights organization, which is holding its annual conference in Milwaukee.

Latinos were about 6 percent of the state's population and 4.1 percent of its eligible voters heading into the 2018 midterms. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes. Hillary Clinton's failure to campaign in the state is considered a reason she lost the state that had voted Democrat in the presidential election since 1984.

Castro had been lagging at the bottom of the Democratic candidates’ field before the debates. But his fundraising spiked immediately after the first debate June 26, where he drew praise for his performance and his polling has since improved.

Castro tangled with his fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke, of El Paso, over immigration, specifically on whether people crossing the border illegally should face criminal rather than civil charges. Castro has said they should face civil penalties, the way it has been in the past.

Castro, a former Housing Secretary under Pres. Barack Obama and a former mayor of San Antonio, also announced he had obtained seven endorsements in Iowa, where he had traveled to on Sunday. He spoke to more than 150 people in Council Bluffs.

He was visiting the flood-damaged part of the state on Monday.

Over the weekend, Castro also jumped into the ongoing struggle by the powerful Culinary Union to pressure Stations Casino to recognize its workers’ vote to unionize.