Joaquin Castro loses bid to lead U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee

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U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro speaks at a press conference in Austin in 2019. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro came up short Thursday in his bid to become chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He lost to U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York in a race that was a long shot from the start for the San Antonio Democrat. Meeks won the support of 148 colleagues, while 78 Democratic members backed Castro.

The most dominant determining factor in House Democratic chairmanship races is seniority, and Castro's bid would have meant he would leap frog over a number of colleagues on the committee.

That aside, Castro's effort left some colleagues impressed. Initially, Castro was an afterthought in a race between Meeks and the most senior Democrat on the committee, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California. Castro's bid called for generational change in the committee's approach to foreign affairs, and he pushed to incorporate issues like climate change and immigration into the country's foreign policy.

On Tuesday, the contenders went before the influential House Democratic steering committee to make presentations for their vision of the committee. The committee recommended Meeks to the larger caucus for the Thursday vote. But Castro, surprisingly, came in second. Sherman subsequently dropped out of the race, and it became a one-on-one battle between the New Yorker and the Texan.