Days before the 2018 midterm elections, MJ Hegar, the Democratic candidate for Texas’ 31st District, released several videos about her historic Congressional campaign. Only one of them was planned.
The final ad features Hegar riding her motorcycle down a solitary road in her district. The clip is unlike her previous videos, which highlighted elements of her backstory such as her struggles with domestic violence, a health crisis during childbirth and her service as a Purple Heart combat veteran. In this final clip, Hegar speaks directly to her opponent, Republican incumbent Congressman John Carter.
“I’m MJ Hegar — the ‘lady’ you’re ‘at war with?'” Hegar says, citing how Carter described her in interviews. “Respectfully, Congressman, you don’t know shit about war. I did three tours in Afghanistan and I’m here to tell you that a campaign is a discussion about issues.”
Those issues, for Hegar, come down to better health care coverage, veteran’s services and jobs. But because Hegar and Carter have never met in-person, the race has devolved into a he-said, she-said back and forth. Hegar argues that her district needs a representative who is more accessible than Carter has been to District 31, where he has not held a public town hall in five years (though Carter has, more recently, hosted public halls on Facebook Live.)
According to Hegar, Carter has not responded to multiple inquiries to engage with her in a public debate in the district. A spokesperson for the Carter campaign tells Rolling Stone that scheduling differences prevented a debate from occurring.
Earlier this week, the race took an uglier turn. On Halloween night, Hegar posted a video on Twitter describing an incident in which Carter supporters allegedly harassed Hegar and her two small children while they were trick-or-treating. “This is exactly what’s wrong with politics,” Hegar says in the clip. “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.”
Hegar also posted security footage of a truck that she says has been parked outside of her family home on numerous occasions.
Carter’s spokesperson said of the Halloween encounter: “Last night, campaign staff and volunteers for Congressman John Carter’s campaign were canvassing their own and Rep. Carter’s neighborhood passing out candy to children. At one point in the evening our team members encountered Ms. Hegar and her children. Our campaign and numerous independent eyewitnesses wholly disagree with Ms. Hegar’s accounting of the encounter. It’s simply untrue and nothing more than political games from Ms. Hegar. This is just another poor attempt by Ms. Hegar to gain attention for her failing campaign.”