MJ Hegar, Royce West head to runoff in Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

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AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Tribune) – Through Tuesday night and much of Wednesday, Royce West and Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez were vying for the second-place finish that would get them into an overtime round with MJ Hegar.

Through a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Ramirez conceded saying:

The results are in, and we have finished outside of the top two. It was a close, hard-fought race that we should all be proud of. While this isn’t the result we had hoped for, I wanted to thank everyone who was a part of this campaign for believing in the power of us. Though we will not advance to a runoff, we accomplished something great. This campaign was consistently underestimated. I ran as a progressive, as a Latina, and as a working mom. We ran this campaign unapologetically, and we all have so much to be proud of. We don’t accomplish anything without taking risks. This campaign was a risky proposition– but it’s nothing compared to the risks that I’ve asked Texan workers and families to take over the course of my career. It’s their courage that inspired me to run to represent our state. This is just the beginning of the progressive Texas we are going to build together.”

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez on Twitter

MJ Hegar and Royce West are advancing to a runoff for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, announced his U.S. Senate run in July.
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, announced his U.S. Senate run in July.  Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

Hegar, the former Air Force helicopter pilot backed by national Democrats, clearly established herself as the leading vote recipient Tuesday night in the 12-way primary. However, it was not clear until Wednesday afternoon that West, the Dallas state senator, was the runner-up. With almost all polling locations reporting, Hegar had 22% of the vote and West 14.5%.

“I believe we are well-positioned to win the runoff,” West said in a statement thanking his competitors for their ideas and effort. “The runoff is a brand new day.”

West was closely followed in the results by progressive organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, who got 13.2% and conceded late Wednesday afternoon.

“This campaign was consistently underestimated,” Tzintzún Ramirez said in a statement. “I ran as a progressive, as a Latina, and as a working mom. We ran this campaign unapologetically, and we all have so much to be proud of for what we’ve accomplished.”

Throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, it remained unclear who would join Hegar in the runoff as thousands of votes were still uncounted in the state’s largest counties. On Wednesday morning, West said the race “remains too close to call” and that his campaign was waiting for more results before commenting further.

Hegar’s first-place finish was apparent Tuesday night. Hegar took the stage at her election night party around 10 p.m., telling supporters that they are “walking into the runoff in the strongest possible position.” She ended her speech with a message for Cornyn.

“Your time is done because you’ve sold us out,” Hegar said. “We’ve given you plenty of time, and it’s over. You’re fired. Pack it up, buttercup.”

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