By Louis Casiano
Published March 17, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke touted his "Republican" mother during a campaign event in Iowa last week, despite her voting in Democratic primaries since 2000, according to media reports.
The 46-year-old former Texas congressman has been touring Iowa after recently announcing his White House bid. While trying to appeal to voters in the early primary state, O’Rourke spoke of how his mother, Melissa O’Rourke, is a lifelong Republican who crossed party lines during his failed U.S. Senate bid last year.
"This campaign that we ran in Texas produced something far greater and more powerful than the sum of people or parts involved. Folks crossed party lines, and I know that personally because my mom, a Republican, voted for us in that election," O'Rourke told voters in Fort Madison on Thursday, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
But a closer look at Melissa O’Rourke’s voting history shows she has mostly voted in Texas Democratic primaries since 2000 and has donated money to candidates from both major parties.
O’Rourke in the past has acknowledged his mother’s politics were not as red as he describes during campaign events.
"I introduce my mom sometimes, and I kid her a little bit, like ‘My mom's a lifelong Republican, but we got her to vote for us in this race.' One day, she came up to me, and she said, ‘You know, that's just not right: I would describe myself as an independent now, not a Republican,” O'Rourke told BuzzFeed News in an August profile. “Definitely not a Democrat.' I don't know what the size of that universe is, but anecdotally we're meeting a lot of people who have described themselves that way.”
Melissa O'Rourke told CNN that she mostly voted Democratic in regional elections because of the party’s dominance in El Paso, the area her son represented when he served in the House of Representatives. She said she moved away from the Republican Party because of opposition to President Trump, the Free Beacon reported.
CNN noted that she voted in 15 of the last 17 primaries on the Democratic side.
But Chris Evans, communications director for O’Rourke’s Senate campaign, noted that, “Melissa has — with the exception of 2016 — always voted Republican for president.”
Beto O'Rourke also recently offered an apology for joking about "sometimes" helping his wife raise the couple's children.