Military veteran MJ Hegar, a former U.S. House candidate, is seriously considering a run for the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2020.
Hegar, who served in the Air Force in Afghanistan, ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. John Carter of Round Rock last year for his Central Texas congressional seat.
“I’m not closing the door on anything,” she told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday.
“I’m considering my options and weighing what’s best for my family and how to best serve my community,” she added. “I’m aware that I have assets. … I’d like to put those assets to use for my community.”
Whom the Democrats nominate to take on Cornyn is one of the central questions in this early stage of the 2020 election cycle. That eventual nominee could affect down-ballot races at all levels across the state. Many Texas Democratic insiders hope that former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is considering a run for president, or former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who is already in the presidential fray, will instead run for U.S. Senate.
For her part, Hegar said one thing that might factor into her decision is whether former Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis jumps in the Senate primary. Davis told the Tribune on Tuesday she has not “ruled anything out.”
Davis, who ran an unsuccessful Texas gubernatorial bid against Greg Abbott in 2014, has spent much of her time since then helping Texas candidates like Hegar.
“Wendy is someone I respect a lot and I support a lot,” Hegar said. “And if she were to decide to run, I would be very hard to convince to enter a primary against her.”
As you know, Hegar is high on my list of non-Beto options versus Cornyn. Frankly, I think the fact that she’s publicly talking about it is a sign that for Beto it’s either run for President or not run for anything. (In re: Julian Castro, given that candidate filing season ends in mid-December here, he’d have to abandon his Presidential campaign before ever facing a single voter, which seems unlikely to me. Maybe Governor in 2022 if he’s not in office or a Cabinet position after 2020, but I cannot see him running for Senate this cycle.) I would be very happy with an MJ Hegar candidacy.
As for Wendy Davis, this is the first time I’ve seen her name attached to a potential 2020 campaign. I love Wendy Davis, but she’ll have a harder time getting the kind of attention she got in her first statewide run, and when she does she’ll get asked a lot about why her 2014 candidacy flopped. Which is only fair – Texas Dems will surely want to know what she learned from that experience, and why she thinks Davis-Cornyn 2020 would be different than Davis-Abbott 2014. To be sure, I think being a female candidate now is much more of an advantage than it was in 2014, and with a solid anti-Roe majority on SCOTUS I think the abortion issue will play a lot better for her. Those white suburban women who avoided her in droves in 2014 are a lot more amenable to Democrats now, after all. I will just ask that if Wendy Davis throws her hat into the ring for Senate in 2020, it means that MJ Hegar will be back to try again against John Carter.