A lot has been made of Democrat MJ Hegar’s campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter. Tuesday will reveal if that talk about this being a competitive race is true.
Carter, an eight-term congressman, and Hegar, an Air Force veteran, are hoping to represent Texas’ 31st Congressional District in the U.S. House. Both are from Round Rock. A Libertarian candidate, Jason Hope, also is on the ballot, but has not been actively campaigning or fundraising.
“This is why I’m doing it — for my kids and your kids and the world they’re growing up into,” Hegar said.
For Carter, this race is a war to protect his seat from outsiders.
“We’re going to win. I’m ahead, and I will stay ahead,” the 76-year-old told the crowd at a Women for Carter event. “I will beat this lady.”
Carter easily has won his eight prior elections, with his 2016 victory netting him 58.4 percent of the vote.
Hegar is hoping to avoid a double-digit loss that Carter dealt to prior Democratic challengers.
Giving Democrats hope the 42-year-old will avoid that fate is her massive fundraising hauls and the backing of the national party. Hegar raised more than $4.1 million this cycle, outraising Carter in what was once considered a safe Republican seat.
But that doesn’t mean the congressman’s fundraising has been shabby. He raised more than $1.6 million.
While these numbers are impressive, they only go so far in capturing votes. The candidate’s positions will lock in voters’ support.
Health care and the economy are two of the top issues for Hegar and Carter.
Infrastructure intertwines both issues, Hegar said.
“Most people like to jump to infrastructure. The reason they do that, I agree, we need infrastructure investment for job creation but also for broadband, water, health care services,” Hegar said.
Still, on the economic front, Hegar believes there is still more work to do. Wages, she said, have stagnated when adjusted for inflation.
The district, Hegar said, could be a hub for jobs in renewable energy and organic farming.
Carter, though, wants to stay the course and continue the policies the Republican Party has implemented since President Donald Trump took office. The congressman pointed to tax cuts and the record unemployment rate as why Republicans such as him should remain in power.
“The kids who are now graduating from college have an excellent chance to find a job, whereas four years ago they had a lousy chance to find a job,” Carter said. “We’re changing that.”
On the health care front, Hegar supports a single-payer system while Carter wants a more market-driven one.
The congressman wants the Affordable Care Act repealed. He voted in favor of the Trump-supported American Health Care Act, which did not become law, that would have replaced the Obama-era law.
Carter opposes socialized medicine, saying it would lead to government running people’s lives “from cradle to grave.”
Although Hegar backs a single-payer health care system, any proposal that gains her support must emphasize quality and affordable care while giving patients control.
She wants Americans’ insurance to no longer be dependent upon their job.
“We need options. At the very least, we need an option to buy into Medicare.”
Bell and Williamson counties — which form this district — have seen record turnout during early voting. That may forebode that this race is likely to come down to the wire on Tuesday — which happens to be Carter’s birthday.