CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Fired up state Senator Richard Ojeda, who is running for president of the United States, confirmed his imminent departure in a floor speech today.
“The rumor is true,” he said. “Next week will be my last day on this floor. I’m going to go. I’m going to try to fight for not only for West Virginia but the issues we have in West Virginia that we share with Kentucky, that we share with Michigan, that we share with California, that we share with New York.
“I’m going to try to fight for us on a national scale. People can say this guy doesn’t have a chance all they want. But make no mistake about it — I don’t have the money, but they don’t have the fight. I’m in this fight, and I’m going to do everything in my power to elevate each and every one of yours and every one of your constituents’ lives.”
Ojeda departs https://t.co/gz8RUaMsY5
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 10, 2019
Ojeda, D-Logan, plans to return to the Senate Monday. After that, he said, he’ll head to Iowa for a bid to make it on stage for the first Democratic presidential debate this coming summer.
A CNN poll from December named more than 20 possible Democratic presidential contenders, but Ojeda was not one of them.
“I will be on that debate stage in June,” he told reporters today. “And when I am, I will change the topic of conversation. I will make the people who are running for president of the United States of America talk about unions, I’m going to make them talk about the opioid epidemic. I’m going to make them talk about corruption. I’m going to make them talk about sacrifice.”
The state Democratic Party put out notification today that it’s accepting applications to fill the vacancy.
The 7th Senate District Democratic Executive Committee will meet to vote on three names to submit to Governor Justice. Deadline for applications is noon next Wednesday.
Submission via email is preferred. Interested applicants from Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wayne counties may submit their resume and cover letter to email@example.com. Boone County, already in the district, currently has a sitting Senator, so submissions from that county will not be accepted.
Ojeda, who is retired from the U.S. Army, was first elected to the state Senate in 2016. He defeated incumbent Senator Art Kirkendoll in the Democratic primary that year before winning the General Election.
Two years ago, Ojeda passionately pushed for a medical marijuana bill that wound up passing both houses before being signed into law by the governor. It has yet to be implemented fully.
Last year, Ojeda was a rock star-like figure during the statewide teachers strike, with educators chanting his name in the Capitol corridors.
He ran for a vacant congressional seat last year, winning the Democratic primary before being defeated by Republican Carol Miller, a former state delegate.
Ojeda expressed disappointment that many of the bills he has sponsored in the Legislature have gone nowhere.
He urged his fellow senators to push for the passage of two bills he has introduced this year. He suggested they could take his name off if they desire.
One of those is a bill that would require registered lobbyists to wear body cameras at the Capitol.
“The reason I came here today and the next couple of days is I wanted to make sure the bills that I made promises to people were on the list,” he said.