In the News

(Round Rock, TX) - Yesterday, Wednesday, October 31, Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, a Purple Heart combat veteran and the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 31st congressional district, was harassed by campaign staff and/or supporters of her opponent, Congressman John Carter (TX-31), while trick-or-treating with her young children, mother, and husband outside their family home.

The Hegar family noticed a pick-up truck pulling a trailer displaying a large Carter campaign sign circling the block where they were trick-or-treating. The truck eventually stopped near the family, and the occupants proceeded to speak to and throw candy at Hegar’s young children, ignoring repeated pleas to stop.

Shortly after the family was forced to return to their home, Hegar posted a video on Twitter describing the incident. In the video, Hegar states, “This is exactly what’s wrong with politics. It is egos and childish behavior that makes people not want to run [for office]. All I can do about it is get back to work.”

In a subsequent Tweet, Hegar posted security footage showing the truck driving in front of her family home.. . .

The night before, Carter made a rare in-district public appearance to hold a rally ten houses down from where the Hegar family lives. Present at the rally was the same pick-up truck and trailer involved in Wednesday’s incident.

Carter, who has not held an in-district town hall in over five years, has refused multiple requests to debate Hegar.

“When I took a round through my helicopter’s windshield, the bullet fragmented across my arm and leg,” says the mother of two, who served three tours in Afghanistan as a combat search-and-rescue pilot.

“I immediately learned how important quality medical care is,” Hegar says. “And it’s why I’ll fight politicians and insurance companies to lower the costs of health care and prescription drugs.”

“And I used these tattoos to cover the scars,” Hegar says, as she looks down at her right arm.

According to her campaign, Hegar was “bothered each time she reached down to pick up her son and saw” her battle wounds,” so she opted to cover them “with beautiful artwork in the form of tattoos that allowed her to reclaim her memories and body.” . . .

Since he was first elected in 2002, Carter, a Round Rock Republican, has cruised to re-election. This year, he may have a real fight on his hands.

There is a reason for that, and her name is MJ Hegar. By force of her personal story and fundraising prowess, Hegar, a military veteran, has put this traditionally Republican stronghold of a House district on the midterm map. Both at the Salado event and in recent meetings with colleagues, Carter, a Round Rock Republican, has acknowledged that he is in the fight of his political life.


A former Air Force officer and Air National Guard helicopter pilot, she sued the Pentagon over its prohibition against women in many ground-combat roles; that ban was subsequently lifted amid mounting legal pressure. She has outsize charm, crazy grit, a terrific story and a knack for telling it. Her memoir, “Shoot Like a Girl,” with a front-cover blurb by John McCain, is in Hollywood development, and Angelina Jolie has indicated interest in starring.

Her main campaign video, “Doors,” has been viewed millions of times and led to about $1 million in donations in the weeks after its debut last spring. “This is a story about doors,” she says as the camera travels through her front one and shows, on her dining-room wall, the side door of a helicopter. “It’s all that’s left of the aircraft that I was flying that day,” she says. “I was on a rescue mission in Afghanistan.” She then goes on to talk about the glass door that her father threw her mother through and about “kicking through every door that was in my way” as a woman in the military. Injured in that helicopter crash, she was awarded a Purple Heart. . .

Hegar, a decorated Air Force veteran, has promoted her candidacy with a video in which she says that she once tried but failed to land a meeting with Carter about lifting the ban on women to participate in ground combat. "We’ll show him tough," Hegar says in the video. "Then we’ll show him the door."

Hegar said of Carter in an Aug. 21, 2018 interview on Spectrum News's "Capital Tonight:" "He hasn’t had a town hall in five years and he’s kind of acting as if he wants to retire."

We sought Hegar’s factual backup for her claim mindful that Merriam-Webster defines a town hall as "an event at which a public official or political candidate addresses an audience by answering questions posed by individual members." The dictionary makes clear that such a gathering doesn’t have to enable anyone to ask anything.

As Hegar maintained, it looks like Carter hasn't hosted a traditional in-person town hall any time recently.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

Self-described "ass-kicking, motorcycle-riding, Texas Democrat" MJ Hegar, a candidate for Texas’ deep-red 31st District, has a novel approach to environmental politics: she doesn’t care if her supporters believe in man-made climate change, but says it's hard to deny the corrupting effects of petroleum dependence on American foreign policy.

"Our dependence on foreign oil is just so damaging to our country on so many levels," Hegar told ABC News in a June interview. "I respect other people’s freedom to be discerning and to make their own decisions. But they can’t deny that the U.S. military pays the price for our dependence on foreign oil – that our diplomacy and foreign policy is complicated by our dependence."

Round Rock, Texas - MJ Hegar does not hold back. "I'm an ass kicking, motorcycle-riding, Texas Democrat. That's who I am!"

She says that emphatically, unblinkingly and unapologetically to a constituent at a political meet-and-greet in a suburban Austin, Texas, home. And she is talking to someone she needs to win over.

"I'm a Republican," the woman says to Hegar. "I'd like to know, in a county that is predominantly Republican, what makes you different from our current congressman?"

That question hits on the central challenge facing Hegar who, in order to defeat incumbent Republican Rep. John Carter in November, will have to win over GOP-leaning voters. Hegar's response -- "I'm an American. I'm a veteran. I'm fighting for this country." -- is how she hopes to do it. . .

"We need a new freshman class of servant leaders who are used to working with people we disagree with," Hegar said in a telephone interview with Military.com on Monday.

Hegar, an Air Force and combat veteran, believes her prior service aligns with the type of leadership the U.S. needs at a time of "hyper-partisan" politics that affects the way Americans deal, interact and empathize with one another. Her new mission is to work with her prospective lawmaker colleagues to back a stable, national security environment while fighting for better jobs and medical care back home.

"I see an uncomfortably flippant attitude toward putting our men and women in uniform at risk, by how we treat our allies, or how we treat a nuclear power or how we treat countries that are actively attacking our democracy. I think there are a lot of things that we need a lot more veterans in Congress because of that," she said.

Hegar is running as a Democrat against Carter, an eight-term Republican. Carter, she said, once denied her a meeting years ago when she was looking for congressional support to pressure the Pentagon to allow women to serve in combat.

Hegar was one of four female veterans who signed on to a lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in 2012 against then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, calling existing restrictions against women serving in ground combat units unconstitutional. Resolution ultimately did not come through the courts -- the case remains open. But amid mounting pressure, Panetta reversed the ban in January 2013, paving the way for women to serve in previously closed units.

It is one of the reasons she wanted to put her story out there. Eventually, she said, it became the motivation behind her current campaign.

"In the military, we are thrown into a melting pot of cultures and communities and we disagree a lot on how to accomplish the mission, but when it comes time to get the work done, we focus our energy on accomplishing the mission," Hegar said. "We've got to tell our stories to influence culture, and we have to get more people elected who have faced challenges like domestic violence, working minimum-wage jobs, wondering how to get food on the table ... regular people."

BELTON — Mary “MJ” Hegar of Round Rock helped about 150 Bell County Democrats celebrate the Sunday afternoon grand opening of their new office in Belton, 104 E. Fourth St. She is the Democratic nominee for the 31st Congressional District opposing U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, in the November election.

“Why is there so much enthusiasm and excitement?” she said. “It’s because we’re fighting for the soul of our country. I feel like we’re standing up for our allies, standing up for our children.” The party will accomplish this one person at a time, Hegar said.

“The people who write the laws don’t want to write laws that will limit themselves,” she said. “Step one is vote out the people who’ve been there for eight terms and haven’t done anything.”

Chris Rosenberg, the Bell County Democratic Party chair, invited everyone to her house for a Wednesday night potluck and phone bank night. On Sept. 8, she said, the Democrats will begin canvassing the county every weekend.

Round Rock, TX – Today EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, endorsed MJ Hegar for Congress in Texas’ 31st Congressional District.

MJ is running against incumbent Congressman John Carter, a Tea Party extremist who hasn’t faced a tough re-election fight in years. MJ’s candidacy changes that. Voters in the 31st District finally have the opportunity to elect a representative who will fight for their interests, not special interests. Let’s show this military hero and champion for change the full support of the EMILY’s List community and do everything we can to help her flip this seat.” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List

“I am proud to have the endorsement of EMILY's List because they know how critical it is that we elect more women to Congress so that our government is more representative and responsive. I fought to open jobs for women in the military, and there is more work to be done. Now is the time to come together to win in November and give Texans the present and available representation we deserve and have been sorely missing." said MJ Hegar.

Round Rock, TX - Today, MJ Hegar, Air Force combat veteran, announced that she raised an impressive $1.1 million dollars in the second fundraising quarter of 2018, with over $750,000 coming in the 10 days after the release of her viral video “Doors”.

After refusing to accept corporate PAC money, MJ has built a strong grassroots operation with over 20,000 donors and 94% of donations coming from small-dollar donations.

“The thousands of people who are supporting our campaign show that it is time to show the door to politicians who care more about campaign donors and political parties than protecting our country. I look forward to building on our success this quarter and continuing to run a campaign powered by people and not corporate PACs,” said MJ Hegar.

Since she began running for Congress MJ has raised over $1.6 million, the most any Democratic challenger has ever raised in Texas 31st Congressional District.

“Some people thought running for Congress against a 15-year incumbent in a blazing red district was crazy,” Hegar said in a fundraising message sent Thursday. “I mean, who would voluntarily sign up for that kind of fight? I would. I’m not scared.” . . .

“We are seeing local enthusiasm as we haven’t seen in decades,” Bell County Democrats Chairman Chris Rosenberg said. “Voters on both sides of the aisle are interested in MJ’s extensive record of fighting for what’s right, and they are finding that MJ shares their values.” Christian Walker, Hegar’s spokesman, said the campaign has seen a flood of volunteers increase since the video’s release. . .

...It’s yet to be seen if there will be a blue wave, but the district appears to be shifting — albeit slightly. The Cook Political Report, an independent, non-partisan newsletter, recently moved District 31’s rating from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican.”

Round Rock, TX – Congressman Seth Moulton endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in the race for Texas 31st Congressional District.

“MJ Hegar knows what it means to risk everything to serve her country and she will be a fierce advocate for her constituents. I’m incredibly excited to welcome her to the Serve America team and I am very proud to endorse MJ Hegar for Texas.” said Moulton. . .

An Air Force veteran’s biographical and cinematic campaign ad has gone viral — receiving nearly 2 million viewers in just five days — and could give the Democrat a chance in the heavily Republican 31st Congressional District of Texas. . .

I think there is this sense of “you’re not important” or that you can only get to the front of the line if you’re a high-dollar donor. I had one person say to me once, “Don’t forget me when you go to D.C.” I said, “Wait, let me be clear. Your donation says to me that you agree that we share values and that you think I’ll be effective in fighting for us.” If that’s what you mean, then I’ll be fighting for us in D.C. I think we need more of that. We need more people who are not willing to promise people the moon just to get their money. . .

To call candidate MJ Hegar’s brand-new video one of the very best campaign commercials I have ever seen is to damn it with faint praise. . .

Hegar comes across as the real deal. A woman who has fought the odds and come out the other side fighting, as she has done her entire career. She lobbied Congress, along with other women veterans to be allowed to participate in combat missions, something she and other women had already done without official designation. . .

Veteran MJ Hegar saw her long-shot congressional bid gain an astonishing amount of credibility mere hours after her campaign released a biographical campaign video that, as of press time, had drawn nearly two million views on YouTube. . .

The splash that ad has made is a big deal, but what’s really durable is Hegar’s underlying story and level of quality as a candidate. Particularly in a district like that – that matters. . .

On the other side of the aisle, some Texas Republican sources watched – and even re-watched – the video with concern. . .

I think that this district...because it's filled with so many veterans, it's filled with people who are discerning, who aren’t going to vote as they’re told or as they always have. . .

I experienced a lot of discrimination in the military. One commander told me that if my time of the month got in the way of my job, he would fire me. An instructor in pilot training continually failed me for subjective things, like judgment and situational awareness—I couldn’t get him to tell me what I was doing wrong. When pressed, he brazenly told me and the second-ranking officer in the squadron that it was because he didn’t think women should be pilots. He wasn’t punished for that, he was just told he couldn’t fly with any more female students. I became a combat pilot despite people trying to stop me. . .

To change the culture, you have to start with pointing out the problem with the status quo. Change is scary, and people don’t like to “fix it if it ain’t broke.” You have to show them how it’s broken: show them the brain drain and the talent drain that happens when you treat women like this. Only then will we be able to take the positive steps toward equality that benefit the community at large.

Washington, DC — End Citizens United (ECU) today endorsed MJ Hegar for Congress in Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Hegar is committed to reforming the rigged system, and supports bills including the DISCLOSE Act and Government By The People Act to increase transparency and accountability in our elections. As a sign of her commitment to reform, Hegar recently announced that she is rejecting corporate PAC money in her campaign. ECU encourages candidates to reject money from corporate special interests and has identified over 100 candidates who are making a similar commitment.

“In Washington, mega-donors dominate the conversation and have a tight grip over too many politicians. It’s corrupting the system and leaving Texas families behind,” said ECU President Tiffany Muller. “Hegar is committed to reforming the rigged system by curbing the influence of Big Money special interests in politics. We’re proud to endorse MJ and look forward to helping her win in November.”

Major Mary Jennings Hegar is a retired Air Force combat pilot who received a Purple Heart after being shot down in her third tour in Afghanistan. Now, Hegar is trying to snag the Democratic nomination for Congress in her home state of Texas. She tells Megyn Kelly about her book, “Shoot Like a Girl,” and her desire to run for office. . .

ROUND ROCK, TX — Gold Star father Khizr Khan — who rose to national prominence in his damning critique of Donald Trump during the Democratic National Convention in 2016 — has endorsed Mary "MJ" Hegar in the race for Texas 31st Congressional District.

Campaign endorsements from constituents don't always make headlines. But Khan's nod carries particular premium given his prominent platform from which he criticized Trump, and coming at a time of historical polling numbers for the president's performance. The endorsement also comes at a time of a so-called "blue wave" showcasing Democratic gains — most recently seen in Pennsylvania where Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine scored an improbable upset over his Republican challenger in a special House election amid a territory Trump won by 20 points in the presidential race. . .

Like many members of Congress across the country, Carter has not held or attended a town hall in person over any of the recent Congressional recesses — the time such town halls are typically held. His office told media that a scheduling conflict prevented him from appearing at the Feb. 22 town hall. A cardboard cutout of Carter was used to represent the Congressman at the event. . . On the ballot with Clark in the March 6, 2018 Democratic Primary will also be Kent Lester of Cedar Park, a former U.S. Army officer and former educator. Additionally, former U.S, Air Force officer Mary Jennings Hegar of Round Rock, an Afghanistan War hero and author, is seeking the Democratic nomination. Carter is expected to have nominal opposition in the GOP Primary from Mike Sweeney of Georgetown, who also ran in 2016.

Joined by a cheering crowd of friends and supporters, Mary Jennings Hegar, the decorated Afghanistan war hero and author, officially kicked off her campaign Saturday for the District 31 congressional seat currently held by a longtime incumbent.

Hegar, an Air Force major and a helicopter pilot, was wounded and shot down while flying a rescue mission in Afghanistan. She used a rifle to protect her patients and crew from the Taliban and then kept firing from the skids of the helicopter that rescued her until her crew and patients were safe.

"She thrived in a male dominated world," longtime friend Conley Giles told the crowd of supporters and friends at the Old Coupland Dance Hall Saturday. . .