DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The two Democrats vying for U.S. Senate in Texas are making their case to attract voters in the primary runoff election this May.
The contest between retired combat Air Force pilot Mary ‘MJ” Hegar of Central Texas and long-time State Senator Royce West of Dallas is the highest profile runoff election in Texas.
In a satellite interview Thursday, Hegar, who came in first place out of 12 candidates said, “We got over 400,000 votes in the primary. I think more people voted for me because they are really tired of politics as usual. John Cornyn is a career politician and they’re tired of people accepting a corrupt and broken system and operating within those rules.”
In Dallas Thursday, West said, “My message about why I’m asking them to support me is because if you want somebody at the top of the ticket that will energize the base, if the base is not energized, we can forget November. I’m the person who can energize the base.”
Political analysts say both Hegar and West will need to get their supporters to the polls and attract an important part of the Democratic base: Hispanic voters.
When asked how he intends to do that, West said, “Can we have another interview next week, wait until next week, you’ll see.”
Asked if he will be receiving an endorsement, West replied, “Wait til next week.”
Hegar responded to the same question by saying, “I think it’s a huge mistake to look at groups of people as voting blocks. It’s something that I’ve never done. When I’m in different communities, I’m talking about the same things. I’m talking about the economy, jobs, and talking about healthcare. I’m talking about protecting Social Security.”
Both Hegar and West agree providing high quality, affordable healthcare is a top priority for Democratic voters.
Hegar said she has another priority, too. “It’s a very close second because we can’t get much done about healthcare or climate change or gun violence until we get that corruption as out of politics as much as possible.”
West said aside from healthcare, there are other issues he’s focusing on, too. “Women’s rights, issues concerning minimum wages, issues concerning climate change, those types of issues I still talk about.”
In the primary, West won Dallas and Tarrant counties but came in second in Collin and Denton counties after Hegar.
When asked if he needs to shore up his home turf, West answered, “Well, I think I need to shore up the home turf. I’ve got to shore up some other areas in Texas also. But you’ve got to recognize in some of those areas, we had a lot of new voters
if you will that don’t know what I have done as a State Senator. In the Texas legislature, in some of the tougest battles we’ve had in terms of legislation we needed to have passed, I was able to pull together coalitions of Democrats and
Republicans in order to get things done for the Democratic party.”
Hegar benefited from tv ads paid for by a veterans group.
But some political analysts said despite the crowded field of candidates, they expected her to win more than the 22% of the vote she received.
When asked about the analysts who were underwhelmed by her performance Hegar said, “You know frankly as the outsider, the person who is not holding political office, I think that we had four people in the primary who had run statewide. I’m absolutely thrilled with the strength of our performance and very confident we’re going to be facing John Cornyn in November.”
Hegar said she too has brought Democrats and Republicans together.
She said she went to Congress as a private citizen to keep the Trump Administration from making a change that would have impacted the military.
“I went to D.C. as a private citizen to challenge Jeff Sessions and others who were trying to reverse a Joint Chiefs of Staff recommendation to the Secretary of Defense that we open hundreds of thousands of jobs for women in the military. I went there to fight that and to make our military stronger,” she said.
Both Hegar and West are staying positive and aren’t criticizing each other, only Senator John Cornyn.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH MJ HEGAR
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH ROYCE WEST