2020 Texas Senate Candidate Guide

John Cornyn (Republican - Incumbent)
John Cornyn (Republican - Incumbent)
MJ Hegar (Democrat)
MJ Hegar (Democrat)

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – Support Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare?

John Cornyn – No. Voted against ACA in 2009 and has since backed 27 bills to kill it. “Our health care system is broken, but Obamacare, with its prohibitive costs and job-killing policies, isn’t the answer.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. Obamacare needs improvement but must be kept so insurance companies can’t “discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions or sell junk plans that leave folks vulnerable.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE – Limit contributions to campaigns or require more disclosure about their sources?

John Cornyn – No. Supports Citizens United, allowing corporations to contribute unlimited amounts to PACs. Supreme Court “has acted to protect … First Amendment rights of free speech.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. Supports campaign finance and ethics reforms to “ensure Washington is accountable to voters and no one else.” 

CLIMATE CHANGE – Consider human-caused climate change a serious threat? Address as a top priority by taxing or limiting output of greenhouse gases?

John Cornyn – Unclear. Says he recognizes that nation  can’t ignore issue. Approaches focus mainly on development of carbon capture technology, not regulation. Reintroduced a bill to end tax incentives for new wind energy projects.

MJ Hegar – Yes. Climate change is “one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of our communities.”  Advocates “aggressive action” to reduce carbon emissions and calls renewable energy “critical to both our economy and national security.”

COURTS—SUPREME COURT – Supported nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court? See CEEP Supreme Court guide.

John Cornyn – Yes. Played key role ensuring Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In 2016. rejected considering Obama nominee Merrick Garland. “Too much at stake to leave the decision in the hands of a president who is headed out the door.” Later said Republicans had been elected to put a check on Obama. Supports voting on Barrett as Ginsburg replacement.

MJ Hegar – No. Kavanaugh showed “disdain” for female senators, “distressing” for a Supreme Court member “deciding issues that relate to women and our freedom.” Opposes picking Ginsburg replacement now versus letting presidential winner of November election choose.

COVID-19 – Support administration’s response to coronavirus pandemic?

John Cornyn – Yes. Supports Trump downplaying the virus. But need “improved testing capacity to identify and stop the spread.” “Congress must invest more in research” for a vaccine.

MJ Hegar – No. COVID “has been devastating to residents and staff in nursing homes. … While our leaders fumble … through this pandemic, lives are being lost.” 

ENVIRONMENT – Tighten or loosen environmental regulations?

John Cornyn – Loosen. Praised EPA repeal of Clean Water Rule saying the rule “prevents farmers, landowners and job creators from taking care of their land how they know best.”

MJ Hegar – Tighten or maintain. “I am running for Congress to fight for our children’s futures: to ensure they can breathe clear air, drink clean water, and lead healthy and fulfilling lives.”

FINANCIAL REGULATION – Tighten or loosen regulation?

John Cornyn – Loosen. Introduced legislation to roll back Dodd-Frank banking rules.

MJ Hegar – No position found.

GUN RULES – Enact more restrictive legislation on guns?

John Cornyn – Mostly no. Opposes ban on assault weapons and semi-automatic rifles. Has expressed openness to regulating “bump stocks.” 

MJ Hegar – Yes. Universal background checks, end to gun show loophole and “Red Flag’ laws restricting gun access for domestic abusers. 

IMMIGRATION – Create path to citizenship for “DACA” residents brought as children to U.S?

John Cornyn – Unclear. Supports Trump administration effort to reverse Obama order that created DACA, but says “DREAMers” should be protected through a legislative solution.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. “It’s in our country’s best interest that we keep these people here because we’ve invested in them so much and they really do represent the best of us.”

IMMIGRATION – Support expanded border walls?

John Cornyn – Yes. Securing border must be “a top priority.” Approved of Trump’s diverting military construction funds for a border wall. 

MJ Hegar – No. Secure border with effective procedures and technologies, not waste billions on an ineffective wall that robs from the military budget while “seizing land from Texans …”

IMPEACHMENT – Support calling witnesses and convicting Trump on impeachment charges?

John Cornyn – No on both. Democrats “failed to bring forward compelling and unassailable evidence of any crime, and thus failed to meet their burden of proof.” 

MJ Hegar – Yes. Criticized Cornyn for violating his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution by refusing to have a fair process or listen to evidence and testimony. 

IRAN – Oppose military attacks on Iran without congressional approval?

John Cornyn – No. Opposed bipartisan effort to limit Trump’s ability to attack Iran without Congressional approval. 

MJ Hegar – Unclear. Has criticized erosion of congressional war powers and withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal.

LABOR – Support “right to work” laws, eliminating the ability of unions to mandate dues for workers they represent?

John Cornyn – Yes. Voted to prohibit TSA employees from collective bargaining. Co-sponsored National Right-to-Work Act that would weaken unions.

MJ Hegar – No. Supports rights of workers to unionize and bargain for healthy working conditions, fair wages, and to secure benefits

LEGAL ABORTION – Ban/highly restrict or legal?

John Cornyn – Ban, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life. Introduced four anti-abortion bills, including one criminalizing performing an abortion after 20 weeks.

MJ Hegar – Legal. Wants Roe v. Wade codified as federal law so women’s reproductive rights “are not subject to the whims of an increasingly partisan court system.” 

LGBT RIGHTS – Support LGBTQ rights?

John Cornyn – No. Signed brief arguing workplace discrimination protections don’t apply to sexual orientation. 

MJ Hegar – Yes. Backs civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing … credit, education, and federally funded programs.

MARIJUANA – Legalize marijuana?

John Cornyn – No. Is concerned drug will “damage … developing brains” of young people and affect the “unborn child” of the pregnant

MJ Hegar – Yes. Legalize. Banning “only boosts cartel profits.” Also expunge “records of those who have been incarcerated for such.”

MINIMUM WAGE – Raise federal hourly minimum wage above current $7.25?

John Cornyn – No recent position. Called 2014 bill to raise federal minimum wage a “job killer.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. “We need to raise wages … instead of giving tax breaks to companies that ship their jobs overseas.” 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD – Support Planned Parenthood receiving public funds for non-abortion care?

John Cornyn – No. Introduced 2015 legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. “We must stand up to protect our most vulnerable.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. “In a state with one of the highest maternal mortality rates, I’m proud to fight alongside Planned Parenthood … so every Texan can receive quality health care.”

POLICE/COMMUNITY – Restrict police use of force and increase public oversight?

John Cornyn – Unclear. “A one-size-fits-all rulebook would create more problems than solutions. But … Congress has a responsibility to ensure all police departments are transparent, accountable and well-trained.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. “Must pass comprehensive criminal justice reforms to combat racial and economic disparities … including ending racial profiling and stop and frisk,” and remove profit incentives for unfair arrests

TAXES – Support administration’s $1.9 trillion (2017) tax cuts?

John Cornyn – Yes. Calls it “the first step toward our goal of modernizing a tax code riddled with special interest giveaways.”

MJ Hegar – No. Says tax cuts were “for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.” Would vote against any legislation that helps the wealthy “while hurting working families.”

VOTING RIGHTS – Support voting by mail to address COVID’s impact on voting?

John Cornyn – No. Said if voters “can go to the grocery store they can go to the poll. … “Anybody who wants to vote has an opportunity to vote.”

MJ Hegar – Yes. “No Texan should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote or putting public health in danger.”


Campus Election Engagement Project is a nonpartisan effort to help colleges engage students in elections. Sources include Votesmart.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and candidate statements. Vote411.org and Ballotready.org offer guides to local races.