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Hegar And West Head To Runoff In U.S. Senate Race

M.J. Hegar talks to supporters at an election watch party at the Riveter in Austin on Tuesday.
Michael Minasi
Democratic Senate candidate MJ Hegar talks to supporters at an election watch party at the Riveter in Austin on Tuesday.

Air Force veteran Mary “MJ” Hegar, who led a crowded Democratic field to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn for his seat in November, is heading to a runoff election with Dallas state Sen. Royce West.

Hegar, a former helicopter rescue pilot, captured 25% of the votes cast in the Democratic primary. Her two nearest challengers, West and labor organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez of Austin, fought for the second-place spot overnight and into Wednesday. By the afternoon, Ramirez had conceded. She picked up 13.2% of the vote, compared to his 14.5%.

Hegar thanked supporters at a campaign watch party in Austin on Tuesday before turning her sights on Cornyn.

“Your time is done because you've sold us out,” Hegar said. “You're fired. Pack it up buttercup because I' m coming for your seat.”

West and Ramirez, meanwhile, told supporters that the race was too close to call.

“I’m used to be underestimated,” Ramirez said at a watch party in Austin. “It’s still early."

"We will issue a statement in the morning as final results become more clear,” West tweeted.

Hegar entered this year’s crowded Democratic primary race strong, fresh off a slim defeat in 2018 when she quickly rose from political newbie to nearly replacing 18-year incumbent U.S. Rep. John Carter in Texas’ 31st congressional district.

Last December, Hegar was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a move criticized as being premature because the decision seemed to ignore a more diverse candidate field. Ramirez has been endorsed by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The runoff is May 26.

This post has been updated.