MJ Hegar makes runoff in US Senate Democratic primary, but tight race for 2nd

A run-off will decide which Democrat will challenge Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn in November.

MJ Hegar, an Air Force veteran who nearly won an Austin-area U.S. House seat in 2018, is the leading Democratic vote-getter with 23% of the vote.

Hegar had an outside group putting up TV ads statewide, which helped her receive the most votes. But with a dozen candidates in the race, she fell well short of the 50% needed to secure the nomination outright.

Currently, State Senator Royce West of Dallas is in second place with a small lead over Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez. One of them will face Hegar in the runoff on May 26.

On the Republican side, Cornyn cruised to an easy victory. He had four challengers but took 76% of the vote. He’s seeking his fourth term.

“We are united as one party and we go into the general elections stronger than we have ever been before,” he said.

Hegar was in Austin Tuesday night. After thanking her supporters, she shared a message for Cornyn.

"My last message is for you, John Cornyn. Your time is done because you've sold us out. We've given you plenty of time, and it's over. You're fired, pack it up buttercup. 'Cause I'm coming for your seat," she said.

Although she still needs to win the runoff, Hegar said she’s ready to take on the Republican senator.

“This is not his seat. People keep talking about John Cornyn’s seat. It’s a seat belonging to the people of Texas and my message to him was to pack it up. And I called him a buttercup because frankly, he’s not very uh, tough. He doesn’t have a spine. He doesn’t stand up to his own party bosses. He puts his partisanship over his patriotism,” she said.

State Sen. West is hoping to remain in second as the final votes are counted.

West is well-known among Democratic leaders in north and east Texas but not the rest of the state. He also knows Hegar’s campaign is well-funded and understands the challenge facing him if he does advance.

“We will redouble the effort that we have engaged in over the last few months to be successful in the runoff. So we have to see where we are but I feel pretty good about that,” he said.

West said his campaign would talk more about plans once the results are finalized.

Texas has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1988.


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