Congressional rivals John Carter and MJ Hegar talk immigration, veterans and tattoos

A military veteran is working to unseat a Republican congressman who has long represented a Central Texas district home to Fort Hood. And while U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, has easily won re-election in Texas’ 31st Congressional District since 2002, Democrat MJ Hegar has outraised him in the 2018 campaign, due in part to a viral campaign ad depicting her life story.

In the latest edition of our “Split Decision” video series, watch our virtual debate incorporating Hegar’s interview with clips from Carter’s social media videos and YouTube posts. Carter declined The Texas Tribune’s request for an interview.

Hegar received a Purple Heart for injuries she suffered after being shot down by enemy fire while protecting her crew. Upon her return, she successfully fought to ensure women could compete for all military posts, including ground combat. She wrote a memoir, published last year, about her life titled “Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front.”

Before serving in Congress, Carter worked as a district judge in Williamson County for more than 20 years. In the U.S. House, he sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee and chairs the military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee. He is serving his fourth term as co-chair of the bipartisan House Army Caucus.

Carter’s and Hegar’s positions diverge on several issues. Hegar has vowed not to take any money from corporate political action committees. According to the Federal Election Commission, more than half of Carter’s 2018 campaign money has come from corporate PACs.

On immigration, Carter said he introduced a bill to give recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — commonly known as “Dreamers” — a three-year renewable status, but not an instant path to citizenship. “If they want it, they have to get in line with everyone else,” he said. Hegar said she’s in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that prioritizes national security and provides DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship.



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