CHARLESTON — Not even a week from the conclusion of this year’s election, state Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, is gearing up for another bid for public office.
This time, it will be for the United States presidency in 2020.
Ojeda, who lost in his efforts to represent the 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, confirmed to MetroNews his next step. The campaign has also filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission. Former congressional campaign staffers are listed in the filing.
Ojeda will run for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
“The same problems that families in WV are facing are faced all across this nation. And no one is really doing anything about it,” the retired U.S. Army major said in a text message.
“I’m not going to sit quiet! Never walk past something that you know is wrong and fail to comment. If you do, you have now accepted a lower standard.”
Ojeda lost to Republican Carol Miller in the 3rd District contest by nearly 13 points. President Donald Trump endorsed Miller, calling Ojeda “stone-cold crazy” and a “whacko” at a September rally in Wheeling. He also jabbed Ojeda during a stop at the Huntington Tri-State Airport, mispronouncing Ojeda’s name in his endorsement for Miller.
“If I’m ‘stone-cold crazy’ because I won’t accept the fact that we’ve got children that go to bed hungry, that we’ve got an opioid epidemic that has killed thousands of West Virginians — if I’m ‘stone-cold crazy’ because I refuse to accept that, then I’ll be ‘stone-cold crazy,’” Ojeda told MetroNews.
During a concession speech last Tuesday, Ojeda called Miller a “hide-and-seek representative,” and pointed to Trump as the reason for her win.
“Make no mistake about it; this election might be over, but I’m not done fighting,” Ojeda said.
Ojeda told MetroNews in May that Democrats in West Virginia have failed to connect with people over the last decade, resulting in the presently strong popularity of Trump (the president has a 61 percent approval rating in the Mountain State according to Morning Consult).
“When it came down to it, he was the one that started about coal mining and helping coal miners. Nobody else did that,” he said.
Ojeda — who voted for the president in the 2016 election — told MetroNews Trump deserves credit for bringing coal jobs back to southern West Virginia but noted in separate interviews more has to be done to improve the region’s economy.
“We have children that are struggling, going to bed hungry at night. There are children that have it worse than those in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said before the election. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, the village will raise a child. Here, the parents are addicted to drugs and grandma and grandpa are trying to raise a child. They’re doing it on Social Security and they’re cutting their meds in half.”
Ojeda first took office in January 2017; he helped lead the state Legislature’s effort to legalize medical marijuana and was one of the leaders of this year’s statewide education work stoppage.
“We’ve got to give back to the working-class citizens. The middle class is disappearing,” Ojeda said in October. “The Democratic Party has historically been the party to take care of working-class citizens. We’ve got to get back to doing that.”
The campaign is expected to make a related announcement at noon on Monday.
By Alex Thomas