A Democratic socialist candidate running for state Senate in New York is being challenged by her mother and her brother over details she shared publicly about her upbringing.
Julia Salazar, a left-wing Democrat aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America, told several outlets she was an immigrant from Colombia raised by a working-class family, but her mother and her brother are disputing those claims.
“My family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when I was a baby, and my mom ended up raising my brother and me as a single mom, without a college degree and from a working-class background,” Julia told Jacobin Magazine.
Her brother, Alex Salazar, told the media a different story. Alex Salazar told City & State New York the family had lived comfortably in a big house in Florida and their father set aside $6,000 in college funds for each child.
“We were very much middle class. We had a house in Jupiter along the river, it was in a beautiful neighborhood,” Alex Salazar told the online outlet. “I feel very strongly about my family and I want to tell the truth.”
Alex Salazar also disputed her status as a Colombian immigrant, saying that while the family traveled to Colombia a few times to visit family, the entire family had been raised in Florida. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency confirmed that Julia had been born in Miami.
Christine Salazar, Julia’s mother, also pushed back on some of the claims her daughter made on the campaign trail. Julia claimed that she was “raised by a single mom who didn’t have a college degree.,” but City & State noted that her mother graduated college when Julia was eight years old.
The outlet added that her parents separated when she was six years old, and there were only two years she just lived with her mother before her mother graduated from college.
Christine said that while the family had been stretched thin financially at times, she disputed her daughter’s claim that she took a job at a grocery store in high school “to make ends meet.”
“My kids always worked, from the time they were 14. I encouraged that because I thought there was a lot of value in that in terms of learning and responsibility so that was the purpose behind them having part-time jobs. … not the light bill,” she said.
Alex Salazar also denied that his sister—who has publicly come out against the Jewish state and pledged her support for boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions against Israel—came from a Jewish background.
“There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish … we were not raised Jewish,” he told Tablet Magazine.
Critics have also questioned Salazar over her progressive credentials after Tablet Magazine revealed she was a conservative Christian activist in college for Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and supported pro-Israel and pro-life causes.
Julia’s opponent, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to point out the inconsistencies in his opponent’s story.
“Julia Salazar was a Florida Republican until she parachuted into Bushwick last year to run,” Dilan’s campaign spokesman Bob Liff said. “Voters don’t judge candidates on whether they are immigrants — or even any of the other misrepresentations and outright lies she has claimed as part of her background — but they do care about the truth.”
The 27-year-old Democratic socialist is running to oust incumbent eight-term state Sen. Martin Dilan in the state’s Democratic primary on September 13.