AUSTIN ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Texas Democrat M.J. Hegar, who is weighing a 2020 Senate bid, over the weekend in New York City, someone close to Hegar told HuffPost.
Hegar is a tattooed, motorcycle-riding, Purple Heart recipient whose personal story — and a viral campaign ad about the challenges she’s overcome— helped her mount a competitive Democratic challenge last year against Republican Rep. John Carter in Central Texas’ 31st Congressional District. She lost by about 3 percentage points, but in 2016, Carter won re-election by more than 20 points.
Schumer invited Hegar to meet with him, the source told HuffPost, though the person declined to comment on the record regarding the contents of the discussion.
A spokesman for Schumer declined to comment.
Hegar previously told HuffPost that a lot of things would have to fall into place for her to run for Senate, but it’s one of the options she’s exploring; another is challenging Carter again.
“Whatever race I’m eyeing, I need to feel strongly like I would serve that community, whether it’s District 31 or Texas … the best,” she said at the time.
Democrats are looking to unseat Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has held his seat since 2002 and is up for re-election in 2020. Last month, Schumer reportedly met with Beto O’Rourke about a possible Senate run. Reports have since indicated that O’Rourke — who lost his underdog bid against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last year, but energized voter turnout in Texas — will not be running for Senate in 2020, increasing speculation that he will instead run for president.
With O’Rourke — considered a strong possible contender against Cornyn — stepping aside, the primary field of potential Democratic contenders is now more open.
Sema Hernandez, a Houston activist and member of the Democratic Socialists of America who won almost a quarter of the Democratic vote in the primary against O’Rourke last year, has already announced she is running.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) will “seriously consider running” for U.S. Senate his campaign adviser said in a statement last Friday. A source close to him had previously indicated that Castro would back O’Rourke if he decided to run against Cornyn.
Wendy Davis, who ran for governor in 2014 and lost to Republican Greg Abbott, is also weighing a possible run, she told HuffPost last week.
Also considering a challenge is retired Air Force Col. Kim Olson, a Democrat who last year lost her well-funded bid for Texas agriculture commissioner.