SAN ANTONIO – Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn has held his position as U.S. senator for Texas since 2002, and during this election, he’s campaigning hard against Democratic political newcomer MJ Hegar, a U.S. Air Force veteran and teacher.
KSAT interviewed each candidate to ask about their top priorities and issues going into this heated election.
Both candidates first commented on the recent appointment of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in Monday night.
“I didn’t see any reason to delay,” Cornyn said. “There was nothing there, no rules broken. I know our Democratic colleagues were disappointed. But that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. But I think she’s going to be an outstanding judge.”
Hegar, like most Democratic candidates, has been critical of the “rushed” appointment.
“I feel like I would have respected this process a lot more if they had just owned it and said, ‘Yeah, we didn’t really mean that it was an election year. So we can’t confirm a nominee. We really meant that we’ve got the ball, and we’re going to take it and go home,’” she said. “The thing I find most offensive about it is that I wish they had found this sense of urgency in the second (coronavirus) relief package.”
The nation has kept its eye on a relief package to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, which still has not come to fruition and probably won’t before election day due to back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats.
“Congress has passed roughly $3.8 trillion worth of spending to help both combat the virus, but also to help sustain the economy. And I wish we could have passed another piece of legislation. We offered another half a trillion-dollar bill that was blocked four times in the Senate,” Cornyn said.
Hegar responded by saying, “One of the reasons I’m running for this office is take our government back up and running again and functioning. John Cornyn said he didn’t have a sense of urgency to pass a second relief package. He just doesn’t understand how much we are struggling and the challenges that regular Texans are facing.”
The pandemic has also pushed both candidates to label health care as a priority.
“Frankly, we had a health care crisis in Texas before the pandemic,” Hegar said. “So that’s why I’m fighting for a public option for people to have access to that care while also fighting to make sure that we preserve every Texan’s right to choose what that access to affordable, quality health care means for them.”
Cornyn responded, referring to a subject taken up in many of the candidates' political ads -- preexisting conditions.
“Everyone in Congress believes that we ought to cover preexisting conditions. Their argument is the only way you could do it is through the Affordable Care Act. And that’s not true. Keeping costs down is proven to be difficult,” he said.
In the end, the candidates did have one same message for the public: get out and vote.How Bexar County voter turnout in 2020 compares to last presidential election
Voters have turned out in big numbers in Bexar County.
With four days to go until the end of early voting, nearly half of registered voters in Bexar County have already turned out before Election Day.
On Monday, 29,508 voters cast a ballot in-person in Bexar County, and 2,257 mail-in votes were received, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. In total, more than 543,000 Bexar County residents have already voted in the 2020 election.
As of Monday night, the turnout in Bexar County surpassed 45% of registered voters. By the end of the 2016 election, 57% of registered voters in Bexar County had cast a ballot.
Texans are taking advantage of the extra week of early voting.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, more than 7.8 million Texans have already voted. That’s more than in any other state so far and it’s about 87% of the total number of votes Texans cast in the 2016 election.
Early voting will continue through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
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