DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Cornyn

DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Cornyn
© Aaron Schwartz

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed combat veteran MJ Hegar in the Texas Senate primary on Monday. 

DSCC Chairwoman Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Demings says she's on Biden's VP short list The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE (D-Nev.) pitched the former Air Force helicopter pilot as the strongest candidate to face Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBottom line Five questions about the next COVID-19 relief package Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting MORE (R) in a tough election for Democrats next year. 

“As a decorated combat veteran and working mother, MJ has both the courage and independence to put Texas first and is running on the issues that matter most to Texans: making health care and prescription drugs more affordable, protecting coverage for Texans with pre-existing conditions, and taking action to address climate change,” Cortez Masto said. “We are proud to support MJ in her fight to continue her public service in the U.S. Senate.”

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Hegar is one of a dozen Democrats vying for the party nomination ahead of next year’s election and has led the primary field in fundraising. There is not yet a clear front-runner, though, based on a September poll

Hegar led the field at 11 percent, with other candidates lagging at 5 percent or less, but The Texas Tribune's poll found that 53 percent of voters said they haven’t thought about the election enough to have an opinion.  

Texas state Sen. Royce West, another Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidate, accused the DSCC of “trying to lock African Americans out of the process.”

His campaign said West was not invited to interview for a DSCC endorsement.

“That is a slap in the face to 11.6 percent of our state’s population that identifies as African American,” West said in a statement after the endorsement. “However, we will not be locked out of this process. African Americans will turn out in large numbers and they will vote their conscience, and not the DSCC’s choice.”

The DSCC was not immediately available to comment in response to the West campaign.

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The Cook Political Report ranks Cornyn's seat as “Solid Republican,” but Democrats are encouraged about their chances in the state after ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke's relatively strong challenge against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzState Department scrutiny threatens Pompeo's political ambitions 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (R) in 2018. 

O’Rourke, who dropped out of the presidential primary last month, said he would not run for Senate next year.

--This report was updated at 3:43 p.m.