AUSTIN (KXAN) — Retired Air Force officer and former candidate for U.S. House MJ Hegar leads the U.S. Senate race in more ways than one.
According to a University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll, Hegar leads the Democratic candidates with support from 12% of voters.
Hegar also leads in funding. She reported in the last quarterly filing period over $2 million has been raised to fund her campaign. Hegar said it’s all grassroots, individual donations.
“It is a grassroots, individual powered campaign that we are very proud of,” Hegar said. “A person’s vote is very precious, and it’s a lot of responsibility. The first thought that comes into my mind is ‘I’m not going to let them down.'”
Hegar is known for her 2018 congressional campaign where she lost by a slim margin but gained national support.
She said she is not running as a congressional candidate again because her goal is not just to be elected, but to take on the biggest problem she sees.
“The metaphor I always think about is I try to get the biggest water bucket I can and dump it on the biggest fire I can find,” Hegar said. “John Cornyn as our senator has got to go and is really hurting Texas. So, that’s where I see the fire right now, so I’m obligated to give it a go.”
Hegar is a retired combat veteran. She calls herself a “responsible gun owner.” Hegar said that she supports universal background checks and ending open carry.
She also said the most important thing Texans can do is aim for gun culture change and not just legislation change.
“People in Texas want to see a change,” Hegar said. “They want to see action. They’re not seeing that action from John Cornyn, and that’s a big part of why I’m running to defeat him.”
Hegar said when it comes to immigration there’s a lot that needs to be done. She said she supports comprehensive immigration reform, fully funding immigration courts and supporting DACA recipients.
“I believe that the people who are DACA recipients represent the best of us,” Hegar said. “We need to support DACA recipients and make sure they know the only country they’ve ever known is not going to be taken away from them.”
Healthcare is another important topic for Hegar. She said she wants all her neighbors, family and friends to have access to Medicare, but also still leave people the option to choose their healthcare providers.
“You know Texans are so proud of Texas, and it really rankles when we hear things about (Texas) maternal mortality rates ranking with third world counties,” Hegar said. “Those things are really embarrassing to us Texans.”
Hegar said she is not interested in taking shots at the other Democratic candidates, and 100% of her focus is on incumbent John Cornyn.
“My focus is on John Cornyn because he is the one hurting Texans,” Hegar said. “He’s the one voting in a way and legislating in a way that’s hurting my kids.”
Hegar also said she hasn’t decided who she is supporting in the Presidential election yet. She said her focus is on issues that impact Texans and Cornyn’s low approval rating.
“When they go into the ballot box next November, they’re going to know they can choose a spineless, yes man who asks his party how to vote,” Hegar said. “Or they can choose a combat vet who’s bled for our constitution, and a working mom who shares their values. I think that’s going to be a clear choice.”