AUSTIN (KXAN) — Willie Nelson endorsed Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke during the “Vote ‘Em Out” campaign rally in Austin Sunday.
Nelson has a history of political endorsements — including one for O’Rourke back in 2018.
The free rally began at 2 p.m. at Moontower Saloon, located at 10212 Menchaca Road in south Austin.
Earlier this year, Nelson and O’Rourke united at Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic celebration at Q2 Stadium, with the Democratic challenger for Texas governor joining the multi-Grammy Award-winner onstage. Back in 2018, the two held a similar Vote ‘Em Out campaign rally in Austin amid O’Rourke’s senatorial bid against Sen. Ted Cruz.
Just as Nelson’s music career dates back decades, so, too, have his political endorsements:
1980: President Jimmy Carter
Nelson endorsed former President Jimmy Carter for his 1980 re-election bid against then-Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. Reagan unseated incumbent Carter and entered office in January 1981.
1984: Democratic nominee Walter Mondale
Nelson endorsed Democratic challenger Walter Mondale in his presidential bid against President Ronald Reagan. Reagan won his re-election bid and served a second term in office.
1988: Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis
Incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush beat Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. Following Nelson’s endorsement of Dukakis, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle — Bush’s vice presidential running mate — began playing Nelson’s songs at campaign rallies.
1992: Independent candidate Ross Perot
Nelson cast his support for Independent candidate Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential election, where Perot faced incumbent Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. Clinton cinched the 1992 presidential election, unseating Bush after one term in office.
1996: President Bill Clinton
While Nelson endorsed Clinton and vice presidential candidate Al Gore’s presidential ticket, Nelson opted not to perform at a Nashville party for future Second Lady Tipper Gore after she’d called for parental advisory stickers to be added to albums containing explicit language. Clinton and Gore won their second term and served through January 2001.
2000: Green Party candidate Ralph Nader
Nelson backed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in his bid against incumbent Vice president Gore, who was now running in the presidential campaign as the Democratic nominee. Both Nader and Gore ultimately lost in the contentious 2000 election to Republican candidate George W. Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush.
2004: Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich
Democratic candidate Kucinich clinched a nomination from Nelson in his bid for the White House. Ultimately, Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry was named the party’s presidential nominee; incumbent President Bush beat Kerry and was sworn in for a second term in January 2005.
2008: Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich
Nelson carried his support for Kucinich into the 2008 election, where the then-member of the U.S. House of Representatives faced off with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. Obama eventually secured the party nomination and beat his Republican challenger, Sen. John McCain, and won the presidency.
2012: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson
Nelson shared his support for former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Johnson, who initially began his presidential bid as a Republican candidate, switched party affiliations in December 2011.
Following the endorsement, Johnson praised Nelson as a “bold advocate for social change,” in a statement published by The Atlantic.
“I am truly gratified to have the endorsement of such an iconic entertainer, philanthropist, innovator and champion for individual rights as Willie Nelson. Not only is he a superstar talent, he is a bold advocate for social change. Americans are demanding the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without interference from a heavy-handed government, and Willie Nelson lends a tremendous voice to those demands.”Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, May 2011
While it’s unknown which presidential candidate Nelson voted for in the November 2016 election, that’s not to say Nelson didn’t make his opinions known during the election cycle.
In an interview with ABC’s San Antonio affiliate KSAT in February 2016, Nelson referred to the presidential campaign as “the funniest thing [he’s] ever seen.”
“I’ve seen the circus a few times but this beats any circus I’ve ever seen,” he said.
But that wasn’t Nelson’s only appearance in the 2016 presidential campaign. A Harris County man made some waves on Reddit in 2016 when he wrote in “Willie Nelson” as his presidential candidate of choice.
“I was not happy with my choices,” the man said, adding: “I wrote in Willie Nelson for president today.”
Because Nelson was not a recognized presidential candidate, his vote was essentially deemed invalid, according to reporting from the Houston Chronicle’s chron.com.
2020: Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden received Nelson’s support during his bid for the White House in 2020. In the lead-up to the November 2020 presidential election, Nelson performed in a virtual Texas fundraiser in support of Biden. The fundraiser also featured a performance by Robert Earl Keen and special guests such as then-Sec. Julian Castro, then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Cecile Richards.