Purple Heart Veteran Seeks to Unseat Texas 14-Year GOP Incumbent
In a Texas congressional district that includes one of the country's largest military bases, a military hero is betting she can stage a political upset.
Air Force veteran MJ Hegar is launching a Democratic challenge against U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, in Texas' solidly red 31st Congressional District.
"I see a threat to our Constitution, our democracy," Hegar said in a recent interview, "and I feel compelled to do something more about it."
Hegar served three tours in Afghanistan as a search-and-rescue pilot, and in 2009, she saved the lives of her passengers after her medevac helicopter was shot down by the Taliban. She subsequently received the Purple Heart as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device.
She went on to become a fierce advocate for women in the military, helping lead a 2012 lawsuit against the Defense Department over its now-repealed policy excluding women from ground combat positions.
Hegar is pretty clear about her progressive positions.
"And I believe that you should be free to do what you want to with your body and marry who you want to. And have the freedom of being able to get quality health care and quality education. The idea that those things could be taken away from us is unacceptable.
I think one of the things that sets me apart is I have a proven track record of standing up to bullies and not buckling under intimidation, which I think is a huge part of the problem in D.C. right now. And there are people who are just falling into line and signing things and and voting yes and doing as they’re told because they’re trying to protect their career instead of trying to protect their country.
I feel like our democracy and our Constitution are under threat. I feel called to go to D.C. and uphold the oath that I took when I joined the Air Force, which was to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
I have small kids, and I need to be able to look at them and say, 'Mommy stood up for your freedom. Mommy stood up for your rights.'"
Decorated Air Force veteran MJ Hegar with her son, Daniel, in her home in Round Rock on June 29, 2017.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune