Julián Castro shakes hands of his supporters after speaking at the rally.
Julián Castro shakes hands of his supporters after speaking at a Hemisfair rally. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro is all but guaranteed a spot in the first primary debate after he announced Friday that he had reached 65,000 donors.

“Our campaign continues to get stronger and stronger,” Castro said in a tweet. “You’re making that happen. See you at the debates in June!”

To qualify for the debate next month, the Democratic National Committee is requiring that candidates hit 1 percent support in three polls or accrue 65,000 donors. But if more than 20 contenders satisfy either requirement – a possibility in the massive field – the DNC will prioritize candidates who have both the polling numbers and donor count.

Castro had long ago met the polling requirement but had been making a big push to also cross the donor threshold, constantly emailing supporters with updates on how many donors short he was and warning them he could miss the cut for the debate. Many of his donors have come since mid-March, when his campaign says it ramped up its digital fundraising efforts after a sluggish start.

Multiple Democrats who entered the presidential race after Castro did in January met the 65,000-donor threshold far more quickly, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke. All three received donations from well over 65,000 donors in the first 24 hours of their candidacies, according to their campaigns.

But Castro had not been alone in still working to hit 65,00 donors. Some prominent names still were not there yet as of at least Thursday, including New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

The debate is scheduled to take place over two nights – June 26 and June 27 – in Miami.

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Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders.