Democrat MJ Hegar of Texas says she's running for U.S. Senate in 2020 against longtime Republican incumbent John Cornyn.
Hegar's announcement Tuesday makes her the first well-known Democrat to enter the race against Cornyn, who has been in the Senate since 2002 and was the No. 2 Republican in the chamber until this year.
She is a decorated Air Force combat veteran who ran a longshot congressional bid against Rep. John Carter last year. She finished within three percentage points in a traditionally safe Republican district near Austin.
Hegar, well-known for her "Doors" campaign video from the congressional race, released a new video Tuesday where she said, "Washington, still has a lot of listening to do and I’m gonna make sure they hear us," adding "Texans deserve a Senator who represents our values: strength, courage, independence, putting Texas first."
In the video, Hegar identifies Cornyn as, "that tall guy lurking behind Mitch McConnell."
"He calls himself Big John, but he shrinks out of the way while Mitch McConnell gets in the way of anything actually getting done in our government," said Hegar. "And now John Cornyn's shrinking out of the way again while they try to take away protections for those of us with pre-existing health conditions. Weakness, partisanship, gridlock - those are not Texas values, John. But maybe you’ve been in Washington so long that you’ve forgotten that."
It didn't take long for Cornyn's camp to fire back, saying "MJ Hegar is Chuck Schumer’s handpicked candidate for good reason: she supports government run healthcare that would eliminate private insurance, crushing new taxes, and late-term abortion. Texans rejected her radical views once and they will again."
Dallas County Democratic Chair Carol Donovan thinks Hegar will find a lot of support from women in North Texas.
"I think she is going to energize women because she represents what you can be if you put your mind to it," said Dallas Democratic Chairwoman Carol Donovan, adding, "Just think how many military are based here in Texas. I think she is going to get a lot of support from military families as well."
Democratic congressman Joaquin Castro, whose brother Julian Castro is running for president, is also considering entering the Senate race.
A Democrat hasn't won a U.S. Senate race in Texas since the 1970s, but Beto O'Rourke's near-upset against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year has changed Democrats' expectations of what's possible in the nation's largest conservative state.