Democratic Guide to 2020 Texas US Senate Primary

So to prepare for the coming US primary, USA4R has been doing some research on the US Senate primary races. Who all is running? What’s the opinion on these guys? Here’s a big table of the big candidates. I’m a bit biased and have ignored the Republicans who have no chance of winning. I also haven’t reviewed the less viable Democrats. I also have a very, very subjective “Rating” on how I feel about the candidate.

Table : Candidate Ideology, Notables, Subjective Rating

IdeologyCandidateNotablesRating
Democratic SocialistSema
Hernandez
Member of Democratic Socialists of America.3/5
Left DemocratChristina RamirezLabor organizer4/5
Moderate DemocratChris BellHeld many offices, former US Congressman3/5
Moderate DemocratAmanda
Edwards
Lawyer3/5
Moderate DemocratMJ HegarMost “star” power as pilot and veteran.4/5
Moderate DemocratRoyce WestAccused of business conflicts of interest.1/5
Outsider DemocratMichael
Cooper

1/5
Pro-business RepublicanJohn
Cornyn
Longtime incumbent, supporter of Bush & Trump administrations0/5

There are three wings of Democratic candidates for this race:

  • Left democrats – Running more with the Bernie crowd, these folks are activists and organizers. 
  • Moderate democrats – These folks are typically career politicians and lawyers. 
  • Outsider democrats – These guys don’t really fit in with the “establishment” party and don’t have lots of money.

For the Republicans, there is John Cornyn – the Republican  incumbent to beat. Cornyn has an enormous war chest of $16 million ready for the general election.

I feel the two “outstanding” candidates are Christina Ramirez and Mary “MJ” Hegar. 

  • MJ Hegar is the Democratic frontrunner, having raised $2 million since 9/30/2019. Hegar has military experience as a pilot, commissioned officer, and 3 tours in Afghanistan. She is also a UT grad. In 2012 Hegar alongside other veterans sued the US government to overturn the “Combat Exclusion Policy” that excluded women. Although the lawsuit was not successful, the ban was lifted by the Department of Defense by 2013. With her military experience, party insiders and donors have gravitated towards her as the most electable candidate on the field.
  • Christina Ramirez is a labor organizer and author. Ramirez calls herself a progressive latina. She founded “Jolt”, a civil rights organization, in 2017. Ramirez has had a long career as an organizer since 2000, and she also helped establish the Workers Defense Project (WDP) in Texas. Her strategy is to bring out young Latino voters. She also wants to run an issue-based campaign, though she likes to emphasize her Latino heritage. Ramirez supports Medicare-for-All and a Green New Deal in order to make sure oil & gas workers do not get left behind. 

In my personal opinion, I’m not really happy with any of the candidates as “visionary leaders” for our future. Therefore nobody has a 5 out-of 5 rating. That’s probably too high a bar anyways, so here’s my take:

  1. Do you believe in moderate but slightly progressive solutions? Do you find Hegar’s personal story persuasive? Hegar is the better choice.
  2. Do you believe in Bernie-Sanders-type solutions? Then vote for Christina Ramirez. 

Typical Democratic Issues

Here are the big issues for the Democrats:

  • Guns – Most candidates support universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons & high capacity magazines. 
  • Healthcare – All candidates support some sort of expansion on healthcare entitlements, whether it’s medicaid expansion, public option, medicare-for-all, etc.
  • Climate Change – Candidate opinions on climate change vary significantly. Many offer vague promises such as Hegar and West. Edwards doesn’t even mention climate change at all. Hernandez and Ramirez offer the most comprehensive support for aggression climate change mitigation. None of them explicitly support my preferred reform, carbon fee + dividend

Candidate Notables

  • Amanda Edwards — Edwards is a young, well educated lawyer and former city council member from Houston
  • Michael Cooper – Cooper is running an outsider candidacy mostly focused on education, youth, and kids, particularly in opposition to state takeover of locally run schools. 
  • MJ Hegar – Military pilot and officer.
  • Royce West – West is accused of conflicts of interest over his business dealings that conflicted with service in the Texas Senate. West had a 40% stake in a tax consulting company “Ryan LLC”, whose PAC lobbies in favor of GOP candidates. 
  • Sena Hernandez – Hernandez is a Democratic Socialist marketing herself as a “working class candidate”. She is policy focused, advocating a $15 minimum wage, repeal of “right-to-work” laws, supports medicare-for-all and ban of private health insurance, tuition-free collect, eliminating all student loan debt, legalize marijuana, allow convicts to vote.
  • Christina Ramirez – Ramirez is a labor organizer and author who founded “Jolt”, a civil rights organization and helped establish the Workers Defense Project (WDP) in Texas.
  • Chris Bell – Bell has had an extensive political career since 1984, serving in the Texas House, US Congress, State Senate, and has done several mayoral and senate campaigns. He is also a lifelong supporter of gay rights. 

About John Cornyn

John Cornyn has served as senator since 2002. Before that he served as Texas attorney general, Texas supreme court, and district court. He is the chair of the Senate Narcotics Caucus. Cornyn has an extensive record and:

  • Supports constitutional ban on flag desecration
  • Supports constitional amendment banning gay marriage. 
  • Urged Trump to withdraw from Paris Agreement
  • Voted against expanding educational benefits for veterans.
  • Supported Benjamin Netanyahu in Senate Resolution.
  • Voted against embryonic stem cell research
  • Voted against partial-birth abortion, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger
  • Voted to repeal the estate tax and raise the exemption level to $5 million.
  • Scored 0% on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard

Cornyn consistently votes in line with Mitch McConnell and the GOP.  Historically Cornyn was a consistent support of policies of George W Bush, voting in line with Bush 96% of the time. Cornyn’s top priority is to “protect the Texas model”. He intends to fight to “keep Texas Texas”. 

Cornyn’s rhetoric seems to prioritize business interests, free trade, and business prosperity.

John Cornyn strongly supports Attorney General William Barr. He also believes the FBI abused their power in investigating Donald Trump and Clinton.

John Cornyn believes “We lack definitive evidence [on the health risks] on the short and long term use of marijuana”.

John Cornyn simply does not represent me in any shape or fashion. He talks high-mindedly of bipartisanship, but I don’t trust him to deliver on his rhetoric. A thorough review of Cornyn’s extensive record is unfortunately beyond my capabilities, and much of the information here is based on 3rd party sources. 

Candidate Financials

Politicians use finances to sometimes measure the viability of the candidate. They can be found here:

https://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary?cycle=2020&id=TXS1

Sources

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