Candidate Highlight: Texas’ Senate Primary Runoff

“We deserve a leader who represents Texas values: strength, courage, independence, putting our families first — because we sure as heck don’t value the weakness, partisanship, and gridlock that’s representing us now.”

-MJ Hegar

Meet Mary Jennings Hegar, one of the Democrats running for the Texas Senate seat. MJ is an Air Force veteran, and received the Purple Heart and theDistinguished Flying Crossfor her service in Afghanistan. After coming home, MJ has worked to overturn outdated policies that affect women in the military. She has also spent time teaching, and aims to invest in public schools. MJ is dedicated to improving affordable healthcare, protecting reproductive rights, and passing gun safety legislation. We reached out and asked MJ three questions, here are her responses*:

1. What made you decide to run?

I'm running for Senate because it's long past time we make Washington work for Texas families — not for big donors and special interests. We need working moms like me in office who've lived the everyday challenges facing our families and who'll put an end to policies that shift the scales in favor of the rich and powerful. As Senator, I'll prioritize expanding access to quality and affordable health care, rooting out racial injustice across our institutions, creating an economy that puts workers first, stemming the gun violence epidemic, and addressing climate change. I've traveled tens of thousands of miles across Texas building grassroots support and talking directly with voters, and their stories guide my mission. Texans are sick and tired of career politicians and just want a leader who will accomplish real change — with a strong record of taking on tough fights and winning, I'm just the person for the job.

2. What are three qualities that make you better than John Cornyn?

First, determination. When I was barred from applying for my next job in the military simply because I was a woman, I brought together a broad coalition to take on the bureaucrats in DC to overturn an outdated policy that was not only wrong, but was hurting military effectiveness, retention, and recruiting. As a private citizen, I was successful in helping open up hundreds of thousands of jobs for women in the military. Senator Cornyn's failed leadership style depends more on partisan finger pointing and inaction instead of getting the mission done.

Second, integrity. My military service grounds me in a dedication to service and country — a quality that is largely missing from DC politics. When I look at DC, I don't see Texas values of strength, independence, and courage reflected. Instead, I see Senator Cornyn selling out Texans to do the bidding of his political allies and special interest funders. I am running for Senate because I am done with politics as usual. If we put more working moms at the decision-making table, I guarantee our government will be more responsive and effective.

Third, empathy. The reason there's such partisan gridlock in Washington is because of apathetic career politicians like Senator Cornyn, whose private pensions and wealthy donors have made him completely out of touch from the needs of everyday Texans. As a working mom and native Texan, I understand the challenges that are facing our families, and I am determined to make Washington work for us. I'm committed to fighting for access to health care, creating an economy that works for all, fighting racial injustice, and addressing climate change. If we want to protect the world that my two young boys and all our kids are growing up into, we need to get in the fight.

3. What is the first thing you would do in office?

My first priority would be expanding access to affordable, quality health care for all Texans by creating a public option. This pandemic has shown how precarious it is to rely on employers for health care coverage, and far too many folks are struggling to access life-saving care. I'm committed to protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and protecting the ACA from partisan attacks. It's also crucial that we address systemic racism in our health care system — we must end discriminatory practices, increase access to care for communities of color, and address high maternal mortality rates among Black mothers. And even though Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country, Senator Cornyn has wasted time selling Texans out by cozying up to Big Pharma and voting to strip health care from millions of Texans 20 times. It's time to send him packing so new leaders committed to quality health care can start delivering for Texans.

"I think that I have the ability to be of service to Texas at the national level. I have worked very diligently across the aisle on a multitude of issues here at the state level and I think I have a lot to offer at the national level now."

-Royce West

Meet Royce West, the other Democratic contender for the Senate seat. West is currently a member of the Texas Senate- first elected in 1992- and works as a managing partner at a law firm. He served as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate from 2006 to 2007. While in office, West has advocated for criminal justice reform, fair wages, and voting rights. His legislationhas created a juvenile crime prevention center, increased funding for at-risk youth programs, and established new standards for child care. Looking forward, his top priorities include investing in K-12 and higher education.

Election Day for the runoff primary is July 14th. Here’s how you can support MJ’s campaign:

*all answers are posted in full, we will never crop or edit a candidate’s words

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