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052020 Political Note #291 MJ Hegar US Senate Texas
2020 General Election
Cool under fire. A good description for Mary (von Stein) Jennings, now MJ Hegar
On the University of Texas Department of Air Force Science Honor Wall
Capt. Mary Jennings, an HH-60G Pave Hawk co-pilot, launched her rescue helicopter, call sign Pedro 15, from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, en route to a convoy that had fallen under attack after a vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
“We couldn’t see any enemy fire as we arrived on scene,” said Maj. George Dona, Pedro 15 pilot, also from 129th RQS. “We were in voice contact with the Soldiers on the ground and we could hear over their radios that they were under distress.”
The Soldiers were taking cover from hidden enemy positions on the western side of the convoy. The helicopter took immediate fire from the enemy upon the first landing, taking off right away, in enough time to drop off two pararescuemen in the zone, Major Dona said.
“One shot actually came directly into the cockpit and pretty much destroyed the entire co-pilot windshield,” Major Dona said. “Captain Jennings took shrapnel and there was blood instantly all over her side.”
The pararescue team lead member from the 71st Rescue Squadron assigned to the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., stayed on the aircraft after the first landing to ensure Captain Jennings was all right while the rest of his pararescue team deplaned to collect the patients. The HH-60G flew about a mile south to escape enemy fire and to guarantee that both the helicopter and crew were in good enough condition to continue the save, Captain Jennings said.
“The helicopter was determined fully functional,” she said. “We couldn’t bring ourselves to return home without the patients.”
Despite the danger the aircrew faced, the crew including Senior Master Sgt. Steven Burt, a 129th RQS flight engineer, and Tech. Sgt. Tiejie Jones, a 129th RQS aerial gunner, returned to the scene after getting a call from the pararescuemen saying they were ready to haul out the three patients, Major Dona said.
“Then again, as soon as we landed we took immediate fire. We landed next to the patients and the (pararescuemen) were already moving them in,” he said. “We took constant fire, and in about 20 rounds to the backside of the helicopter the systems started to deteriorate slowly.”
Captain Jennings told Major Dona, who was on controls, to hold the helicopter on the ground through the fire as she watched the pararescuemen load the patients onto the helicopter.
“There were people yelling, lights flashing, and people screaming through the radios, all while dodging bullets,” Captain Jennings said. “Major Dona had a lot of patience and confidence in his team to stay on the ground through all the chaos. His amazing pilotage skills saved all our lives.”
About 30 seconds after takeoff, the back cabin was full of fuel, hydraulics were leaking, and systems were not working correctly. Captain Jennings flipped the fuel selector to cross feed between the two fuel tanks to keep the engine from flaming out. This was a huge factor in keeping the helicopter airborne, Major Dona said.
“As I enabled the second tank, I saw it was ticking down to zero as well,” Captain Jennings said. “We needed to land. It was a decision to either crash three miles away or land two miles away.”
The helicopter crew made the right decision. After landing the helicopter about two miles south of the convoy attack, the crew shut down and quickly secured a perimeter to protect the patients. Another HH-60G landed next to their crippled helicopter and the crew loaded all patients and as many crewmembers as possible before departing, Major Dona said.
“Army OH-58D Kiowa helicopters came to retrieve the rest of the crew,” Captain Jennings said. “Being small single-engine, single-rotor, two-seater helicopters, there was no room for us inside. We had to stand on the skids and hold onto rocket pods.”
Sergeant Burt also showed valor during the ordeal. While pararescuemen were loading patients onto the second HH-60G and the crew was being exfiltrated on to the skids of their cover ships, one of the pararescuemen called for help. Sergeant Burt ran through a rain of fire to help, Captain Jennings said.
“He totally put his life on the line,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of my crew’s heroism.”
Looking back at the incident, Captain Jennings said she is thankful for her crew and their bravery.
“In a country where rocket-propelled grenades are used everywhere, it was a amazing that no one had an RPG. Everything was covered in fuel, including ourselves.” she said. “It was nothing short of a miracle that we survived.”
BA Texas 99, MBA Texas 16, MJ Hegar is made for Texas politics. Except, of course, she’s a Democrat. Can she go from a losing Congressional campaign to be elected Senator from Texas? Can she be a successful part of turning Texas blue?
M.J Hegar is cool under fire. She is also persistent. No longer able to fly because of her injuries, she was barred from a ground combat position because she was a woman. Her persistence turned into an ACLU law suit. The ban on women in combat was ended in 2013.
Despite her experience as a military helicopter pilot, M.J. Hegar’s campaign focuses on climate change and health care. She says Texas can be a leader in renewable energy – wind and solar. Regarding health care, she is an advocate for a public option to join Medicare and negotiating medication costs.
We in the Northeast have our views of Texas. When Michael Dukakis acknowledged he was a card-carrying member of the ACLU, we would not have expected Lloyd Bentsen, his Texan Vice Presidential candidate, to have said the same. When we think of energy in Texas, we think of oil and gas. With regard to health care, we know Texas is one of the 17 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
These views of Texas are not perfectly be accurate. The ACLU has been involved in over 150 lawsuits in a single year in Texas. Although solar energy in Texas is small, wind power is a different story. Texas produces more power from wind than any other state. Just under 10% of the energy produced in Texas is produced by wind power. Although Texas has not expanded Medicaid, a poll in 2018 found that 64% of Texans would support doing that.
M.J. Hegar’s views are not out of Texas’s mainstream. Nor is she personally out of the Texas mainstream. USA Today’s Caller Times endorsed M.J. Hegar for the US Senate noting her description of herself as an “ass-kicking, motorcycle riding, Texas Democrat.”
M.J. Hegar still has a primary rival. You might think that State Senator Royce West would have a chance to win the run off. In the primary, M.J. Hegar earned a small plurality – 23-14. The Dallas Morning News sees her as a comfortable favorite because of her fundraising. M.J. Hegar has raised $4.75 million compared to West’s $1.35 million. More important, as of March 31, she had $1.1 million on hand for the primary run off and the general election. West had only $120,000. He will not be able to compete.
Can M.J. Hegar compete for the general election? The incumbent, John Cornyn has just under $13 million available for the general election. That is a big differential. Appreciate M.J. Hegar’s cool under fire and her persistence. Help her compete with the incumbent. She has taken on a big project. She needs your help. Send her some.
Help these Senate candidates. A surprising number of these candidates just might win and flip the Senate. Check lenspoliticalnotes.com for more complete descriptions of the candidates described in bold. Democrats gain control of the Senate if they win a net of four seats.
DEMOCRATS ARE AHEAD
Arizona Astronaut Mark Kelly, gun safety leader with his wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords v. Incumbent and ex fighter pilot Martha McSally. March 31 Cash on hand: McSally $10 million. Kelly $20 million. Polls: April 15 Kelly 51-42, March 16 Kelly 50-44, March 13 Kelly 48-36
Colorado Former Governor John Hickenlooper or House Speaker Andrew Romanoff v Incumbent attorney and party activist Senator Cory Gardner. March 31 Cash on hand: Gardner $13 million, Hickenlooper $9 million, House Speaker Romanoff $1 million. Polls: August, 2019. Hickenlooper 53-40
Michigan Incumbent Democrat Gary Peters has a tough opponent in African-American Businessman John James. March 31 Cash on hand: Peters $8.7 Million, Johnson $8.5 Million. Polls: April Peters 46-36, March Peters 42-35, February Peters 45-39, January Peters 44-40
RACES THAT ARE CLOSE TO EVEN; MONEY COULD BE CRUCIAL
Montana Steve Bullock, popular Democratic Governor of Montana versus corporate-oriented incumbent Steve Daines. May Bullock 46-39, March 31 Cash on hand: Daines $5.5 Million, Bullock $3 Million. Polls: March 47-47 Tie.
Maine Speaker of the ME House, Sara Gideon v former moderate Senator, Susan Collins. March 31 Cash on hand: Collins $5.5 Million, Gideon $4.5 Million Polls: February Gideon 43-42, June 2019 Collins 44-30, June 2019 Collins 52-36
Kentucky Retired Marine Pilot Amy McGrath and conservative Democrat v Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. March 31 Cash on hand: McConnell $15 Million, McGrath $15 Million, Charles Booker $70,000. Polls January Tie 41-41, January, McConnell 43-40, September 2019 McConnell 47-46, August, 2019 McConnell 47-45
North Carolina. Businessman, environmentalist, and veteran, Cal Cunningham v Incumbent Thom Tillis. March 31 Cash on Hand: Tillis $6.5 Million, Cunningham $3 Million. Polls: May Cunningham 41-40, April Cunningham 47-40, April Tillis 38-34, March Cunningham 48-43, Tillis 44-42
Kansas Physician and former Republican State Senator Barbara Boliier for Open Republican Seat in Kansas. Cash on hand: March 31 Bollier $2.4 Million. Several Republicans competing in the primary: Businessman Bob Hamilton $2 Million, Congressman Roger Marshall $2 Million, ex KS Secretary of State State Kris Kobach $300,000, ex KC Chief football player David Lindstrom $300,000, Senate President Susan Waigle $200,000. Polls: In a large field, despite a modest amount of money, right wing cult anti-immigration figure Kobach is probably a slight favorite to be the Republican nominee. April Bollier 44-42 v Kobach, February Kobach 47-38, February 43-43 tie
Alaska Physician and Commercial Fisherman Al Gross v. incumbent and attorney with military connections Dan Sullivan. March 31: Sullivan’s cash on hand $4.5 million. Gross’s cash on hand $2 million. No polls.
Iowa Businesswoman and civic leader Theresa Greenfield v unpopular incumbent Joni Ernst. March 31 Cash on hand: Ernst $4.5 Million, Greenfield $2 Million, Businessman Eddie Mauro $1 Million. Polls: April Ernst 43-42, December, 2019 Ernst 47-41 v Greenfield, October, 2019 Ernst 47-40 v. Greenfield
REPUBLICANS ARE AHEAD, MONEY FOR DEMOCRATS COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE
South Carolina Former Party Chair Jaime Harrison v incumbent, former moderate Republican Lindsay Graham. March 31 Cash on hand Graham $12 Million, Harrison $8 Million. Polls: March Graham 47-43
Alabama Incumbent ex US Attorney and KKK Prosecutor Doug Jones v ex Senator and ex Secretary of State Jeff Sessions or former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. March 31 Cash on hand. Jones $5.5 Million. Sessions $750,000, Tuberville $500,000. Polls: Primary Poll. February Sessions 32-30, March Tuberville 52-40. No Polls for the General Election
Georgia (A) Jon Ossoff v incumbent David Perdue. Cash on Hand March 31. Perdue $9 Million Ossoff $2 Million, Teresa Tomlinson $400,000, Sarah Riggs Amico $200,000. Polls May Ossoff 47-45 May Perdue 46-41 (v Ossoff)
Georgia (B) Five candidates. The top two will be in a run off. Three Democrats: The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, Businessman Matt Lieberman, ex US Attorney Ed Tarver. Two Republicans: Inc Kelly Loeffler, Congressman Doug Collins. Cash on hand: Loeffler $6 Million, Warnock $1.2 Million, Collins $1 Million Polls: May Collins 34, Warnock 18, Lieberman 14, Loeefler 12, April Collins 36, Warnock 16, Loeffler 13, Lieberman 11, Tarver 3. General: Warnock 45-44 (need over 50% to win).
TEXAS Pilot MJ Hegar should win the primary run off and run against the increasingly unpopular Incumbent John Cornyn. March 31 Cash on hand: Cornyn $13 Million, M. J. Hegar $1 Million, Royce West $120,000. Polls: February Cornyn 49-41, December, 2019 Cornyn 44-30
REPUBLICANS FAR ENOUGH AHEAD TO BE PROBABLES THOUGH MONEY COULD HAVE AN IMPACT
Mississippi Ex Member of Congress and Ex Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy v Incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith. March 31 Cash on hand: Hyde-Smith $1 Million, Espy $400,000. Polls: February Hyde-Smith 53-43
Tennessee Attorney, former military pilot, and Rabbinical Spouse James Mackler for an open Republican seat in Tennessee. March 31 Cash on hand: Hedge Fund Owner Bill Hagerty $5.5 Million or Surgeon Manny Sethi $2 Million v. Mackler $500,000. Polls: February General Election Hagerty 55 – 33, Sethi 46-35
REPUBLICANS ARE A SURE THING
SOUTH DAKOTA, Businessman Dan Ahlers v Incumbent Mike Rounds. March 31 Cash on hand : Rounds $2Million. Ahlers (who still has to win a primary) $35,000. Not worth looking for polls.
Idaho No outstanding Democrat versus incumbent James Risch. March 31: Rish cash on hand $2 million. No Democrat with as much as $50,000.
Arkansas Independent Dan Whitfield v incumbent Tom Cotton March 31 Cash on hand Cotton $5 Million, Whitfield $5 Thousand. No polls.