Hegar advances to Democratic runoff in Texas Senate race

Hegar advances to Democratic runoff in Texas Senate race
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Afghan war veteran M.J. Hegar advanced to a May runoff election in the race to challenge Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Castro, Warren, Harris to speak at Texas Democratic virtual convention Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight MORE (R-Texas) after she did not break the 50 percent threshold in the crowded Democratic primary.
 
The Associated Press projected Hegar would advance to the runoff. She is set to face off state Sen. Royce West who got second place after edging out Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a candidate who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe battle of two Cubas An affordable zero-emissions grid needs new nuclear Recovery First: The American comeback shouldn't hinge on warmed-over policy agendas MORE (D-N.Y.).
 
Coming into the primary, Hegar had been viewed as the front-runner and she had the endorsement of national Democrats.

But Democrats faced a packed primary field with more than a third of the voters still undecided leading up to Tuesday's election. An Emerson College/Nexstar poll released Monday, a day before the primary, found Hegar leading with 16 percent of the primary vote, but 39 percent of voters were undecided. 
  
Democrats have in recent election cycles tried to move the once deeply red state in their favor. Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report O'Rourke on Texas reopening: 'Dangerous, dumb and weak' Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (D) came close to defeating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged Iranian sanction violations On The Money: Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections | 2M more Americans file new jobless claims, pushing total past 40M | White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent MORE (R-Texas) in 2018, losing by less than 3 percentage points in a race that gained outsized national attention.
 
But they'll likely face an uphill battle if they are going to unseat Cornyn. The Cook Political Report rates the seat as a "solid Republican."
 
Hegar said in a statement late Tuesday night that she is "heading into the runoff in the strongest position" to be able to beat Cornyn.
 
She was quickly backed by Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Cortez Masto says she's not interested in being Biden VP The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Nev.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The Senate Democratic campaign arm endorsed Hegar late last year. 
 
“MJ Hegar’s impressive performance is proof of the strength of her campaign and underscores that she is in the best position to flip this seat in November," Cortez Masto said in a statement. "She will only continue to build momentum and support in this critical race.”
 
Updated March 4 at 7 p.m.