- A Texas Democrat running for Congress fired back at a conservative political action committee after it created an advertisement using an image that prominently featured her tattoos.
- The photo of former US Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, a Democrat running against Republican Sen. John Cornyn, likened her to a "radical liberal."
- "Texans see right through this BS," Hegar told Insider.
- Hegar commissioned the tattoos to cover up her injuries after her Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.
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A Texas Democrat running for Congress fired back at a conservative political action committee after it created an advertisement using an image that prominently featured her tattoos.
The Texans for a Conservative Majority, a political action committee that supported other Republican super PACs, superimposed a photo of Democrat MJ Hegar on a dark background with the caption, "HARD LEFT HEGAR." The photo, which was noticeably featured at the top of the group's website, shows the tattoos on her right arm and accuses her of being a "radical liberal."
"M.J. Hegar is a radical liberal who lacks the judgment Texans need in the Senate," a caption to the photo said, adding on its website that, "M.J. Hegar is too extreme for Texas."
Hegar, who served in the US Air Force as a combat search-and-rescue pilot, commissioned the tattoos to cover up her injuries after her HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.
The enemy bullet fragmented across her arm and leg, causing the scars and tissue damage in those areas. Those scars, Hegar told Insider, were always a stark reminder of the shooting. Hegar received a Purple Heart for her injuries and became one of the few women to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross with a valor device.
"Every time I went down to pick up my son, I saw my scars and had flashbacks of that trauma," Hegar told Insider. "So I did what I always do — I sought to make my scars more beautiful."
"That's why I'm running for the Senate too," Hegar added. "It's just an inherent drive in me to go out and fix the problems I see. I chose cherry blossoms for the tattoo as a reminder of my time stationed in the military in Japan, and I smile with pride when I catch a glimpse of my arm as I pick up my kids."
Asked about the photo, Hegar said she embraced the imagery and that "Texans see right through this BS."
"I'm damn proud of my tattoos because they're a mark of my service to our country," Hegar said.
Hegar, is running against incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a three-term lawmaker. Several polls indicate Cornyn has a healthy lead against Hegar, including a recent Quinnipiac University poll that showed him with an 8-percentage point lead. The same poll found President Donald Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden by 5-percentage points.
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