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Wed Jul 1, 2020, 12:13 AM

A Socially Distanced Senate Runoff Debate Finally Got MJ Hegar and Royce West to Throw Down

It’s too bad the Democratic Senate runoff in Texas between MJ Hegar and Royce West has gotten buried by, you know, everything, because it tells an interesting story about where Texas Dems find themselves in 2020. The race is between two very different candidates, with very different claims to the support of the party’s base. If Monday’s debate is any indication, they won’t be getting a beer together when this is all over.

Hegar, 44, has an impressive personal story to tell, one that helped her become a national figure of sorts even as she lost her first race, for the U.S. House in 2018 against Representative John Carter, by a thin margin. She’s a former Air Force helicopter pilot who was wounded in action in Afghanistan and is a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. But she’s also never held elective office, and wasn’t active in the party until recently, which is something that means a lot to Texas Dem activists who’ve been slogging it out in the trenches for what feels like forever.

The blue wave that brought Democrats the U.S. House in 2018 relied in part on the support of college-educated white women who may have been Republican voters in the past but had come to despise Donald Trump. That’s Hegar, who voted in the Republican primary in 2016. (She says it was a protest vote against Trump, and that she voted for businesswoman Carly Fiorina.) The hope of appealing to those red-to-blue voters again is perhaps why Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer made clear early on that Hegar is his preferred candidate. Health-care issues have been a core part of her campaign, and she spoke at the debate about the possibility of working with Republicans on pharmaceutical pricing reforms.

Royce West, meanwhile, is a veteran African American lawmaker from Dallas, a city critically important to Democrats. At age 67, he has been in the trenches. Too long, critics say, Hegar among them: as a lawyer in the state Senate, he’s traded on his influence in the way nearly all lawyers in the Lege do, profiting from government contracts and representing local governmental entities in the DFW area. But he also has real accomplishments under his belt, including passing important police reforms. He was a pivotal player in the long Democratic effort to flip Dallas County.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/west-hegar-runoff-debate/

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Reply A Socially Distanced Senate Runoff Debate Finally Got MJ Hegar and Royce West to Throw Down (Original post)
TexasTowelie Wednesday OP
hurl Wednesday #1
northoftheborder Wednesday #2

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Jul 1, 2020, 08:55 AM

1. Really torn on this one

Overall I think Ms. Hegar brings more youth energy and ideas, but part of me wonders whether we've reached an inflection point where we have a chance to elect an AA senator with our base. Mr. West has taken the effort to appear in person at party meetings in my rural county (pre-COVID) twice, and I liked what he had to say.

Obviously, either would be a massive improvement, but the blue wave is going to have to be pretty epic to unseat Cornyn.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Jul 1, 2020, 08:58 AM

2. Thanks for this - I missed this debate

I'm supporting West. However, not very hopeful about either one beating Cornyn.

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