Run-off candidate MJ Hegar makes case for U.S. Senate


Democratic run-off candidate for U.S. Senate MJ Hegar hosted a Zoom meeting for the media on Tuesday afternoon as she continues to campaign against her opponent Royce West.

Hegar opened the meeting saying she sympathized with the general public in the challenges the United States is facing and said the only way to rise above those challenges is to elect representation who are not career politicians.

“We need to elect leaders, like myself, who have  demonstrated the ability to take on the special interest forces in Washington, D.C. who try to intimidate folks like us,” Hegar said. “I went there as a private citizen and was told I wouldn’t be able to get anything done because I wasn’t a private donor or powerful person. But yet, I was able to build a strong bi-partisan coalition to make our military stronger. We can’t keep electing career politicians like John Cornyn.”

Hegar then opened the meeting up for questions to the media.

Challenges facing her campaign amid the pandemic

“A lot of campaigns are struggling in the current environment because you can’t go out and meet people where they are at,” Hegar said. “I feel very grateful in the time we invested in the year leading up to COVID-19 as we didn’t have any idea this was coming.”

Hegar, like a large portion of the population, has had to turn to digital meetings and get-togethers as COVID-19 has spread throughout the country in this election year.

“We spent time building those relationships and building my policy platforms,” Hegar said. “My immigration policy has been built from meeting with community leaders on the border and elsewhere. Luckily we were able to do that in the first year. 

“But now that we’ve gone virtual, I actually feel like it has been effective in reaching undecided voters. The in-person events were largely attracting people who were already supporters. But with the virtual environment we’ve been able to reach a lot of people who would not have come to an in-person event.”

The implication she is ‘not a real democrat’ from her opponent

Hegar has not seen the implication from West that she is not a real democrat and believes mud-slinging is not how you win an election.

She said she knows who she is and is not letting anyone define her.

“Being a combat-rescue pilot in a field with very few women I’m kind of used to people trying to define me or lie about me,” Hegar said. “I guess I developed an ability to block that out that is serving me well in the gross field of politics.”

Hegar said the general public doesn’t care about the bickering in Washington, but how the issues are going to be solved.

“How are we going to deliver access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Hegar said. “How are we going to get kids out of cages? How are we going to get aggressive about climate change? Those are the things I’m focused on.”

Impacting rural voters 

Hegar said she grew up in rural Texas and said the voters need to elect someone who has had experiences similar to the rural residents.

“When I look at D.C. I don’t see a lot of Texas values,” Hegar said. “There are a lot of things we need to do to protect the agriculture community. A lot of that is in trade and is very nuanced, complex things that can be well-intended but has had negative results. 

“In order to protect against that we need leaders who bring people to the table and give them a voice in the policy.”

Part of that includes talking to the agriculture leaders in communities and asking what unintended consequences are affecting them.

She also would like to see rural voters get better access to healthcare.

“Usually when talking about healthcare it’s about coverage,” Hegar said. “But in rural Texas that’s also physical access. I worked in healthcare for five years and I know one of the issues was how we got access out to the rural areas when John Cornyn supports tearing down the Affordable Care Act or re-defining Medicaid reimbursements and things like that.”

Hegar said there is economic and infrastructure problems in rural Texas, as well.

State of the Department of Veterans Affairs and how to improve it

Hegar chuckled and said there were a number of issues with the VA, but a start would be to remove the politicization of the Department of VA.

“This is due to how many career politicians we have and not enough people who either served in uniform or coming from a place where they aren’t just worried about being reelected,” Hegar said. “The situation in the VA has been so politicized because certain people want to privatize the VA and to get support for that they are trying to make the VA fail by starving resources. That’s just another way politicians politicize our health.”

Hegar said she has been working with VA officials and veterans’ groups to see that their voices are adequately heard and how to improve the care.

East Texas Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and illegal gaming

There are various Native American tribes throughout Texas who have legislative concerns in regards to their sovereignty.

Hegar said she has been in contact with many of those tribes and has brought them to the table to hear their concerns.

“There are various concerns from different tribes not just across Texas but across our country,” Hegar said. “I have been in their position trying to get a meeting with Senator Cornyn about something with legislative initiative. I know how you get treated. You’re not a donor, so you don’t have political capital. That’s part of the system I’m going to try and get on and change.”

For more information on MJ Hegar, visit her web page at MJ Hegar served as a Major in the US Air Force and the Air National Guard and was honorably discharged after completing three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a combat search and rescue and medevac pilot. Use of her military rank, job, titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement from the Department of Defense, Air Force, or Air National Guard.

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