Election 2020

Here Are The Top Democratic Senate Candidates In The 2020 Texas Primary

The Texas Tribune has profiled five of the frontrunners in the race to challenge Cornyn as part of its broader 2020 election coverage.

Texas Tribune/Photo Illustration
The 2020 Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate from Texas are, from left, Chris Bell, Amanda Edwards, MJ Heger, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, and Royce West.

There are a lot of candidates for Texas Democrats to choose from in their long-shot bid to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

The Texas Tribune has profiled five of the front-runners in the race to challenge Cornyn as part of its broader 2020 election coverage. The criteria for selection was those who raised at least $100,000 for their campaigns or registered at least 3% support in an October 2019 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Below are links to some of that coverage, along with a brief primer on each candidate.

How are the top Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in Texas different? The Tribune asked them 11 questions to find out.

Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune
"What I hear is that people like the fact that someone has experience and is ready to start the job on day one, who's actually been to Congress, who knows the ways of Washington and knows how to get things done there," says Chris Bell.

Chris Bell
Chris Bell is an attorney who served one term in the U.S. House in the early 2000s. But he’s spent more time running for office than serving in it, having lost races for governor, Houston mayor, Houston City Council, Texas House, and Texas Senate. But Bell says his experience makes him the person to unseat Cornyn. Bell and Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez are the only two candidates to support a mandatory buyback program for assault rifles, and Bell is the only candidate who has said he would abolish the Senate filibuster. See where Bell stands on the issues.

Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Edwards says her views about guns — as well as other issues like health care and education — are guided by a mix of personal experience, what's practical for Texans and what realistically has a chance of passing into law.

Amanda Edwards
Amanda Edwards is an attorney who served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council from 2016 to 2020. Some of her proposals are more moderate compared to some of the other candidates, which she says gives her policies the most realistic chance of passing. Edwards understands firsthand the impacts of gun violence: her cousin was shot and killed in 1990. But while she supports a ban on assault rifles, she does not support mandatory buybacks. See where Edwards stands on the issues.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
"In Texas, foreign policy and national security is a kitchen-table issue because everyone has someone [they know] in uniform," says MJ Hegar, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

MJ Hegar
A 12-year Air Force veteran known in part for surviving a Taliban attack while co-piloting a helicopter in Afghanistan, Hegar says it is her military experience that makes her the best choice to unseat Cornyn. She’s also received the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Hegar is the only candidate in the race who has said she would not decriminalize illegal border crossings. See where Hegar stands on the issues.

Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, like all 12 Democratic candidates vying for the chance to take on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, is battling low name recognition in Texas

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
Positioning herself as the progressive candidate in the race, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has gravitated toward positions some of her more moderate opponents have avoided, including support for Medicare For All and the Green New Deal. She is the only candidate who has said she would would not support a cap-and-trade plan, and is one of just two candidates in the race who supports a federal ban on fracking. See where Tzintzún Ramirez stands on the issues.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is hoping his decades of experience at the Texas Capitol set him apart in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Royce West
Royce West is perhaps best known as the man who helped flip Dallas County for Democrats in 2006. And now he thinks he’s the one who can flip a Senate seat. A longtime state senator, West is also relying on his experience as a selling point in his pitch to take on Cornyn, as well as his image as a consensus builder. Along with Tzintzún Ramirez, West is one of only two of the candidates who have said they would ban fracking on a federal level. See where West stands on the issues,

Early voting in the primary began Tuesday.

Reporting compiled by Paul DeBenedetto.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.