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Democratic Primary Runoff Between MJ Hegar And Royce West For US Senate Becomes More Bitter

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Retired Air Force combat pilot MJ Hegar and long-time State Senator Royce West are trying to convince Democrats they're the stronger candidate to take on Republican incumbent U.S. Senator John Cornyn in November.

During an interview West said, "I have more experience, more demonstrated success on policy issues."

Hegar said, "I've always been a fighter, I'm not afraid to go against the grain."

The race has recently turned more bitter.

MJ Hegar and Royce West
(CBS 11)

During a televised debate in Austin last week, Hegar said West became a millionaire in office and accused him of "legislating in his own best interest" because he has been a bond attorney for cities and school districts.

When asked if West broke the law Hegar said, "No, I think that for too long the people who are writing the laws are benefiting from how those laws are written. That's what I'm talking about."

West rejected that. "In terms of her accusation about me legislating for my best interest, I had no idea what she's talking. I make no apologies for working hard, hiring people in the community."

West has punched back saying he, not Hegar, is the only true Democrat in the race, because she voted in the Republican presidential primary in 2016, and this week his campaign pointed to the Gadsden flag she displayed on social media in 2015.

West said, "When a person uses the Tea Party flag, when they contributed to their opponent, alleged opponent would be in the fall John Cornyn."

Regarding the flag Hegar said, "The Gadsden flag has been adopted by different groups, but the Gadsden flag to members of the military, represent the first military flag flown during the American Revolution and it was created in 1775. It has always stood for independence."

West calls his race against Hegar a "David vs. Goliath" story.

She has raised more money than him, and she enjoys the backing of Emily's List and the powerful Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Both groups are helping Hegar finance her tv ad campaign statewide.

Both candidates weighed in on the Covid-19 pandemic.

CBS 11 asked each of them if they were already in the Senate what they would be fighting for.

Hegar said, "Until we have widespread access to testing and we have, leaders who are going to listen to scientists and healthcare workers and data instead of politicizing our public health and making decisions based on their re-election or what their party leaders are telling them, we're not going to get the public health aspect of this under control."

West said, "Number one, I want to make certain we repatriate manufacturing of PPE. I think we're doing some of that now, make certain that we would also repatriate that manufacturing of the ingredients for prescription drugs that we need here in this country."

They both spoke of the importance of police reform after the death of George Floyd.

West said, "We don't need to have 50 different standards, in terms of when deadly force can be used by police, we should have one standard, and that standard should be a law that's adopted by every state in this country."

Hegar said, "Make sure that police are more representative of the communities and they live in the communities that they are charged with policing, ending chokeholds, all of those things are great, but we need to go beyond that."

The primary runoff is Tuesday.


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