A Democratic socialist candidate for New York state Senate whose biography was challenged in a recent expose is facing even more questions about her background -- as her family calls out claims about her supposedly hardscrabble upbringing.
Julia Salazar, a progressive Democrat affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, has been touted as the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- who won a primary race against New York Rep. Joe Crowley. But her campaign was thrown into turmoil last month after an article in Tablet took issue with certain parts of her biography.
She had previously told multiple outlets she’s an immigrant from Colombia, saying her family came to the U.S. when she was young.
“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 Salazar said in an interview with Jacobin Magazine.
But Tablet found she was actually born in Miami. She later said she had made it clear she was born in Miami. In that article, it also quoted her brother Alex as disputing her claims that she was Jewish. “There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish … we were not raised Jewish,” he said.
Since then, her brother and her mother have pushed back further against her claims, particularly her assertion that she was born into a "working-class" family and that her mother had no college degree.
In an interview with City & State, Alex Salazar said they were financially comfortable and living in a big house, with her father earning enough to set aside college funds of $6,000 per 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 outlet. “I feel very strongly about my family and I want to tell the truth.”
He also disputed claims Salazar made that “Colombia is where my family was and where I was in the first years of my life.” He said that while there were a handful of trips to Colombia to visit family, they were raised entirely in Florida.
The candidate told City & State that the confusion stems from the expectation from others that all immigration stories fit into the same box.
“I understand now why this would be confusing, but I mentioned before I felt that we had a home in Colombia,” she said in the interview.
But it is far from the only biographical claim being disputed -- particularly, the claim by Salazar that “I was raised by a single mom who didn’t have a college degree.”
According to City & State, Christine Salazar, Julia’s mother, did graduate college when Julia was 8. The outlet noted that since her parents separated when she was 6, there were only two years she lived only with her mother before Christine graduated college.
Christine Salazar said that while there were lean times, such as when her ex-husband was laid off work, she also disputed a claim on her daughter’s campaign website that Julia’s job at a grocery store during high school was “to help 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.
Salazar is also facing questions about her progressive credentials after revelations that she was actually a conservative Christian activist on campus who worked on pro-Israel and pro-life initiatives.
In 2012, Salazar appeared on conservative personality Glenn Beck’s show, claiming “there are probably several” professors at the Columbia University who are “using the classroom as their podium to spread lies about the State of Israel, to delegitimize the State of Israel, and to spread propaganda to Columbia students.”
She has since come out against the Jewish state and supported organizations that campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel.
Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.