Hegar is a retired Air Force officer, helicopter pilot and recipient of the Purple Heart. She announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in April 2019 after a high-profile but unsuccessful campaign to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. John Carter in 2018.
Hegar’s campaign rose to national attention with a viral ad and massive fundraising. She ended up losing by less than 3 percentage points in the traditionally Republican district in suburban Austin.
After the March primary election, Hegar, whose campaign has been backed by national Democrats, led the vote tallies, advancing her to the runoff alongside state Sen. Royce West. The winner of the runoff election will face Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in November. The runoff election was originally scheduled for early May, but Gov. Greg Abbott postponed the election due to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Hegar is best known for the heroism that earned her a Purple Heart in 2009. She was on her third tour in Afghanistan when the Taliban shot down an Air National Guard medevac helicopter that she was co-piloting. Despite being hit in the arm and leg, Hegar returned fire while clinging to a moving helicopter, saving the lives of patients and crew members.
As Hegar sought to advance her military career, she unexpectedly ran into the Ground Combat Exclusion Policy, which prohibited women from serving in ground combat units. In 2012, she successfully sued the Department of Defense to repeal the policy.
“Texans deserve a senator who represents our values, strength, courage, independence — putting Texas first,” Hegar said in a campaign announcement video in 2019. “I didn’t get a pilot slot my first time trying. We Texans don’t give up easy, and everything we’ve accomplished is just the beginning.”
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