The Chron changes its course in the US Senate race.
For 18 years, John Cornyn has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate with dignity, decorum and a legislative work ethic that has made him one of the more productive, and often bipartisan, lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
He’s championed criminal justice reform, stood up for trade with Mexico, stood against President Trump’s child-separation policy and passed major bills tackling sex trafficking and other complex threats to American welfare. Most recently he worked with Texas’ full delegation to send billions in aid following Hurricane Harvey and, when that money got snagged by bureaucracy, he helped to get it flowing.
“I work with people on a daily basis to pass legislation who I know get up in the morning trying to figure out how they can defeat me in my next election,” he told the editorial board in an hour-long interview last week. “… But you do what you can where you can.”
In an ordinary year, that might have been enough to endorse him for a fourth term, as we did for a third in 2014.
But in this year, in these deadly and divisive times, it is not enough. Not nearly. As a result, we heartily endorse Democrat MJ Hegar, an Air Force veteran who flew medical evacuation missions in Afghanistan where she earned a Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device, to become Texas’ next senator.
We find Hegar’s mix of energy, moral clarity, and assertive pragmatism invigorating.
“I just want our country to live up to the ideals for which it stands,” Hegar, 44, told us in an interview last week, vowing to put some “function” back into the Senate.
What weighed most heavily in our decision to urge voters to embrace Hegar is our veteran senator’s failure to lead.
From 2013 to 2019, he was the second-ranking Republican leader in the Senate and yet has been almost uniformly silent as the party he represents has been steered off course by the tea party insurgency beginning in 2010, and more recently has been completely unmoored by Trump.
Cornyn told us he distinguishes between Trump the man — with his divisive and dishonest rhetoric — and Trump the president, whose policies Cornyn said he appreciates. We’ll grant that conservatives cheered Trump’s success in cutting taxes, even if primarily on businesses and wealthy individuals, and the remarkable pace with which he’s pushed the federal judiciary farther to the right.
But on issue after issue, Trump has conducted himself in ways that Cornyn surely agrees are damaging to the presidency, to our nation’s standing in the world, and to the institutions that safeguard our democracy, including Congress itself.
Texas needs a leader who would make that speech, rally allies, and press for legislation that is morally right, even if it means having to irritate the party bosses.
In response, Cornyn points to former Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who clashed with Trump only to see his career derailed. What good for Texas, he asks, could a senator do once sidelined by the president or the party?
But preserving one’s clout is only sound strategy if that clout is eventually used. We see very little evidence Cornyn has used it. After 18 years, Texans are entitled to ask — if not now, then when?
In between those last two segments is a long airing of grievances against Trump, and Cornyn’s lily-livered response to them, culminating in his stated willingness to bring up a stand-alone bill to help the Dreamers but not actually doing it because Mitch McConnell would ignore him. You can compare this to their endorsement of Dan Crenshaw and mumble something about different standards for different folks, but at least here there’s asking the right questions. I’ll take it.
The Chron also endorsed a bunch of legislative incumbents, the most interesting of which being Rep. Gina Calanni.
Voters in Texas House District 132 have a luxury that residents in most other districts don’t: A choice between two experienced legislators on the Nov. 3 ballot.
State Rep. Gina Calanni, 42, has served with distinction in her first term, which she won narrowly two years ago. And her opponent, Republican Mike Schofield, is the lawmaker she drove out of office after two terms.
He’s back for a rematch and at stake is how the district, which includes much of Katy and unincorporated areas of Harris County, will be represented in Austin, where Republican control of the House is no longer assured.
We believe voters got it right in 2018, and recommend they retain Calanni this year.
It’s been a mostly incumbent-friendly endorsement season, Hegar over Cornyn notwithstanding. Calanni’s been a hard worker who did all the things she said she’d do when she ran, as she noted in the interview with the ed board. She’s got the toughest road to re-election, having won by a tiny margin in 2018, but she’s done the job, and this is at least as favorable an environment as 2018 was. I like her chances.