The story of former Air Force helicopter pilot who helped end the ban on women serving in ground combat roles has gone viral in Texas as she mounts an insurgent run for congress as a Democrat in Texas’ deeply Republican 31st Congressional District. In an ad titled “Doors” that has been viewed upwards of 2 million times on YouTube since its release last week, Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, a three-tour Afghanistan veteran and Purple Heart recipient, recalled when she tried to talk to her congressman, Tea party Republican John Carter, about her push to end the ban on women in the Army’s ground forces.
“Apparently, being his constituent and a veteran wasn’t enough to get a meeting. I guess I also needed to be a donor,” said Hegar in the ad. “So now I’m running against him, taking on a system that cares more for campaign donors and political parties than protecting our country.”
Carter hasn’t faced a significant threat from Democrats since he began representing the 31st Congressional District in 2003, but Hegar says that she’s overcome tougher odds — and opponents — in the past. Her decision to run came, she explained, quite suddenly one night in 2017, when her then 5-month-old child woke up in the middle of the night crying.
“He was clearly scared of something, like he had his first nightmare or heard a noise. And I started saying things like, ‘It’s OK honey. Mommy’s here. I’m going to keep you safe. I’m going to take care of you,’” Hegar told Yahoo News. “It dawned on me that if I meant those things, short of wrapping him in bubble tape and not ever letting him leave the house, I needed to go out and do what I could in the world to make it safe, healthy and happy for my children. I want them to be able to love whoever they choose, practice whatever religion they choose if they choose, travel, breath air, drink the water and grow up with the American Dream the way that I did.”
“I’ve taken on uphill battles before,” she continued. “Becoming a pilot was no easy feat, 150 enemy fighters to our nine, suing the secretary of defense: all of those things were done intentionally, after I looked at the data, saw the path to victory and did what it took to win.”
Hegar also elaborated on her goal of better representing marginalized minority communities in her home state, as well as how she plans to combat what she described as a “toxic” culture of “hyperpartisanship.”
Watch Hegar’s viral campaign advertisement below.
Read the full story at Yahoo News.