Congressional candidate MJ Hegar fired back Thursday at U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a fellow Democrat, for participating in a fundraiser earlier this week for her opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter of Round Rock.
“I think that Congressman Cuellar does a good job of working across the aisle and working in a bipartisan way,” she said in an interview with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith. “I think that raising money for somebody who doesn’t represent your values…that that’s different. That actually is going against the values that you’re trying to fight for.”
On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Cuellar participated in a fundraiser for Carter in San Antonio. Cuellar released a statement later in the day downplaying the significance of the action, arguing that he frequently attends events with members who visit his district and added that “friendship is more powerful than partisanship.”
Hegar, a decorated Air Force veteran, is challenging Carter in Texas’ solidly red 31st Congressional District, which runs north of Austin and up to Fort Hood.
While stressing she has “nothing against Congressman Cuellar,” Hegar questioned whether such actions were actually bipartisan.
“I’m a huge fan of bipartisanship and working together to get things done,” Hegar said. “I do think there’s a difference, though, between the friendship that belongs on the golf course and fighting for our ideals and values on the battlefield. And I think it’s actually not an example of bipartisanship. I think it’s actually an example of what’s wrong with politics today.”
She added that, over the course of her campaign, she has reached out to all of the Texas Democratic members of Congress but never heard back from Cuellar.
“So, he and John Carter have that in common, that they don’t return my phone calls,” she said.
“It’s a little bit good old boys club, maybe. Maybe. It’s a little clubby,” she said. “It’s a little, ‘I’m going to put my personal interests and my personal feelings and my personal relationships and my ego and my resume and my future ahead of the values the people who voted for you put you there to fight for.'”
“I have long-since said that working…together and accomplishing things in a bipartisan way doesn’t mean compromising your values,” she added.
Hegar launched her bid against Carter last summer. While drawing skepticism that a Democrat could win the Republican-leaning district, she has blown Carter away in fundraising this year and is currently on television with campaign ads in the district. National Republicans are cautiously watching polling to see if they need to enter the fray and offer financial support for Carter’s re-election bid.
Carter is ramping up his campaign after Hegar roared through the summer with national attention and raised massive amounts of money.
On that front, Hegar predicted in Thursday’s Tribune interview that she will have a strong third quarter and again report outraising Carter.