- Democratic House candidate MJ Hegar says that her opponent’s campaign is engaging in a targeted harassment campaign against her.
- Hegar says people from the campaign repeatedly attempted to engage with her children on Halloween.
- Multiple allegations of voter interference and harassment have been made during Texas’ early voting period.
Halloween is supposed to be a night of escapism through candy and costume, but one Democratic House candidate claims that her opponent’s campaign wouldn’t offer her such a luxury – allegedly harassing her and her children while they were trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
In a fiery video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Texas 31st District challenger Mary “MJ” Hegar alleged that incumbent Rep. John Carter’s campaign has engaged in a targeted harassment campaign against her and her family that culminated in a confrontation on the evening of October 31st.
Hegar says the harassment is endemic of a toxic political culture that she’s invested in changing.
My family was harassed by the Carter campaign while trick-or-treating tonight. This is exactly what’s wrong with politics, and it’s a reminder that we’re ready for a change from politics as usual. #TX31 pic.twitter.com/cbo9MSh6Ic
— MJ Hegar (@mjhegar) November 1, 2018
According to a campaign representative, a pickup truck affiliated with Carter campaign made multiple attempts to engage with Hegar’s children despite numerous requests to stop.
“The first pass they were throwing candy, and MJ and her husband made it clear they didn’t want candy thrown at the kids… there wasn’t a parade,” said press secretary Kolby Lee.
“Then they looped back, stopped the vehicle, and persisted in trying to talk to MJ’s children despite MJ and her husband making clear they didn’t want them talking or engaging with the kids,” continued Lee. “It was very targeted, the truck wasn’t attempting to talk to or throw candy at any other passerbyers. This was an attempt to provoke her and distract from the issues.”
The vehicle, which Hegar described as a “large 4-door white truck,” matches a photo of a campaign vehicle found on Carter’s Facebook page and security video that Hegar claims came from her home security system.
In a statement, Carter spokesman Bruce Harvie claimed that the incident was an attempt to gain attention: “Last night, campaign staff and volunteers for Congressman John Carter’s campaign were canvassing their own and Rep. Carter’s neighbourhood passing out candy to children.
At one point in the evening, our team members encountered Ms. Hegar and her children. Our campaign wholly disagrees with Ms. Hegar’s accounting of the encounter.”
A Carter campaign representative claims that the group was mostly composed of young volunteers, and the Hegar began screaming at them after they tried to give her children candy. The Hegar campaign disagrees with that characterization of events.
Hegar says the incident came just a day after the campaign allegedly held a disruptive rally just 10 houses away from her own home, emphasising the large size of the district which holds 853,799 people, where the same truck was present.
In her video, Hegar says that the alleged harassment “is exactly what’s wrong with politics – it’s egos, childish behaviour that makes people not want to run for office.”
“This is solely an attempt to distract voters from the issues. If the campaign is about the issues Carter will lose,” says Lee.
Carter is an eight-term incumbent currently vying for his 9th. In the last election, he won by 21 points. But Hegar, who went viral with her ad focusing on her trajectory to Air Force combat search and rescue pilot and veteran, has now out-fundraised Carter. She thinks she can win by focusing on the large military population around Fort Hood.
The allegations of harassment come amid an already contentious early voting period in Texas, where numerous claims of voter intimidation have cropped up.
Dallas County election director Toni Pippins-Poole told Pro-Publica “I’ve been here for 30 years, and this harassment that’s going on, I haven’t ever seen the likes of this.”
In Mesquite, one partisan poll watcher was reportedly escorted away from a voting site by police after watching voters and commenting on their ballots. The Texas Civil Rights Project reported anti-abortion campaigning near a Dallas poll site.
“Williamson County is experiencing the highest voter turnout in the state right now,” says Lee. “People are coming to the polls in droves, and I think that’s because they’re fed up with the status quo.”