USAF vet who gave local congressman a scare announces Senate run

MJ Hegar. (Campaign photo)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KWTX) MJ Hegar, a U.S. Air Force veteran who came within 8,500 votes of unseating veteran Republican Central Texas congressman in November 2018 says she’s going to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas in 2020.

Hegar made the announcement Tuesday morning in a YouTube video.

“Washington, still has a lot of listening to do, and I’m going to make sure they hear us,” Hegar says in the video.

“Texans deserve a senator who represents our values: strength, courage, independence, putting Texas first.”

Cornyn released a statement in which he called Hegar U.S. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s “handpicked candidate.”

“MJ Hegar is Chuck Schumer’s handpicked candidate for good reason: she supports government run healthcare that would eliminate private insurance, crushing new taxes, and late-term abortion. Texans rejected her radical views once and they will again,” Cornyn said.

In November 2018, Hegar lost a close race to U.S. Rep. John Carter, R- Round Rock, who has represented his district, which includes most of Fort Hood, since 2003.

She came within 3 percentage points of unseating him in a race that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had targeted.

The native Texan was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in 1999 through the University of Texas ROTC program, served on active duty until 2004 and then entered pilot training with the Air National Guard, going on to serve three tours if Afghanistan flying search and rescue and medevac missions.

On her third tour in 2009 she was shot down and wounded on a medevac mission, for which she received a Purple Heart, and was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device.

She made headlines in 2012 when she sued the secretary of defense, arguing that the Combat Exclusion Policy that banned women from competing for certain positions in the military.

In 2013 the policy was repealed.

She lives in Round Rock with her husband and two young sons.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D- San Antonio, is also considering the Senate race.