Democrat Mary Jennings Hegar is running an uphill battle to unseat Republican incumbent congressman John Carter of Round Rock, but her race just became more than a million times easier. A campaign internet video that went viral, which tells her story as a rescue helicopter pilot in Afghanistan and describes her fight to remove the ground combat exclusion for women in the military, helped her raise $1.1 million in the quarter that ended in June, with $750,000 of that arriving in the ten days after the ad aired, her campaign reported. “The thousands of people who are supporting our campaign show that it is time to show the door to politicians who care more about campaign donors and political parties than protecting our country. I look forward to building on our success this quarter and continuing to run a campaign powered by people and not corporate PACs,” Hegar said in a news release.
Also, on July 5, Hegar designated the DigiDems PAC of Los Angeles as a joint fundraising committee for her campaign. The high-tech fundraising committee was created by Allen Blue, a cofounder of LinkedIn and a member of the board of directors of change.org.
The Hegar internet ad was shot by Cayce McCabe of Putnam Partners, the same admaker who helped launch Amy McGrath’s long-shot campaign in Kentucky last year with a video about her service as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. That commercial raised more than $340,000 in the 72 hours after it first aired and put McGrath on course to win the Democratic nomination for her state’s Sixth Congressional District seat held by incumbent Republican Andy Barr. The Hegar commercial was paid for jointly by her campaign and the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Hegar’s campaign has not officially filed its campaign finance report to disclose the source of the donations or the cost of the commercial. An email to her campaign manager, Christian Walker, did not receive a reply.
Carter has represented the district since 2003. It includes all of Bell and Williamson counties. The district includes Fort Hood, and is not prime Democratic territory. Wendy Davis received just 36 percent of the district’s vote in her 2014 campaign for governor, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 netted just 40 percent of the district vote. But there were 64,826 Democrats who voted for Clinton who did not show up for the Davis election, indicating room for growth. Carter received more votes in the March Republican primary than there were ballots cast for all the Democrats running in their hotly contested primary that included Hegar. However, because the district is so compact, a million dollars will buy a lot of direct mail, radio spots, and some television in the Temple/Killeen and Austin markets just before the election. Carter’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.