Air Force Veteran MJ Hegar Is Challenging Texas Sen. John Cornyn In 2020

Apr 23, 2019

MJ Hegar announced Tuesday she is running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, challenging Texas Sen. John Cornyn for a seat he's held since 2002. 

Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot who lives in Round Rock, announced her decision to run in a 4-minute video posted on YouTube. 

In the video, Hegar addresses Cornyn directly, saying "weakness, partisanship, gridlock — those are not Texas values, John." The ad is similar to one used during her unsuccessful 2018 congressional campaign, which was viewed more than 3 million times. 

Cornyn's campaign manager John Jackson emailed a statement calling Hegar "[Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer's handpicked candidate." 

"Texans rejected her radical views once and they will again," Jackson wrote.

Hegar narrowly lost her 2018 race to incumbent Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) by 3 percentage points in a district Carter had won by at least 20 points in past elections

Earlier this month, the state Democratic Party launched a multimillion-dollar effort to defeat Cornyn in 2020.

“The Texas Democratic Party will do what’s never been done before and build a full war room," state party Executive Director Manny Garcia wrote. "The size and scope of which have never been undertaken in Texas history."

San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro is also considered a likely candidate to jump into the race to unseat Cornyn. Castro's campaign adviser, Matthew Jones, told The Texas Tribune this month an announcement on his decision will come "in the near future." 

"Every candidate in this race has announced on their own timeline and is making their own case to the voters of Texas. Joaquin is no different," Jones wrote in an email Tuesday. "The last two campaigns he has fought, and won, started with a tough primary."