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MJ Hegar announces as a challenger for John Cornyn in 2020 U.S. Senate election

Posted at 3:39 PM, Apr 23, 2019

MJ Hegar, a decorated Air Force veteran who nearly upset U.S. Rep. John Carter in the last election, has announced she will attempt to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in his bid for a fourth term to the Senate in 2020.

“Texas deserves a senator who represents our values — strength, courage, independence,” Hegar says in a three-minute introductory ad on Twitter. “So saddle up Texas because we got work to do.”

“Washington still has a lot of listening to do, and I’m gonna make sure they hear us,” Hegar says in the video. “Texans deserve a senator who represents our values: strength, courage, independence, putting Texas first.”

In her video, Hegar spoke about her 2018 “Doors” viral video that catapulted her into national awareness in her race against Carter for the 31st District that encompasses the suburbs north of Austin and Fort Hood.

Hegar’s video received more than 2 million views after its first five days of release.

“I didn’t win that election,” the Round Rock native and University of Texas graduate said. “But we helped to change the status quo.”

In the process, Hegar’s timing for the race against Cornyn appears to be spot on. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has announced he will be running for president. And Hegar’s announcement allows her to jump in the race before U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who also was mulling a potential race against Cornyn.

Castro, whose twin brother Julian is now running for president, was expected to run for the Senate against Cornyn. But he has hesitated, saying last week that he would be making a decision “soon.”

Castro, a fourth-term House of Representatives member, would be giving up a burgeoning career in the House for a tough potential run against Cornyn.

Hegar turned her rhetoric to Cornyn at the end of her announcement video.

“He calls himself Big John, but he shrinks out of the way while Mitch McConnell gets in the way of anything actually getting done in our government,” says Hegar. “And now John Cornyn’s shrinking out of the way again while they try to take away protections for those of us with pre-existing health conditions. Weakness, partisanship, gridlock — those are not Texas values, John. But maybe you’ve been in Washington so long that you’ve forgotten that.”

Hegar, an Air Force helicopter pilot, served three tours in Afghanistan flying combat search and rescue and Medevac missions.

On her third tour in Afghanistan in 2009, Hegar was shot down on a Medevac mission and wounded, and was awarded the Purple Heart.

Her actions on that mission save the lives of her patients and crew. It also earned her the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device. She is one of the few women in military history to receive that honor.