CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Richard Ojeda submitted his official resignation letter to the West Virginia Senate, saying he could no longer accomplish goals there and setting his aspirations on the United States presidency instead.
“It is the frustration of not having been able to do more, and my belief that I cannot help remedy other serious issues facing WV by directly working within this body, within the state, that today Richard N. Ojeda ll, do hereby resign my office as Senator for the 7th District.”
Ojeda expressed similar sentiments last Thursday during a speech on the Senate floor. That was the last day he appeared at the Capitol.
Ojeda, a Democrat from Logan County, is trying to make a presidential run.
He said he was going to California for the weekend, expressing support for Los Angeles teachers who are striking.
Then, Ojeda said, he planned to spend significant time in Iowa in preparation for the caucuses that are an early test of presidential contenders.
A CNN poll from December named more than 20 possible Democratic presidential contenders, but Ojeda was not one of them.
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.
The West Virginia Democratic Party sent out notification today that the search for Ojeda’s replacement in the West Virginia Senate is underway.
The 7th Senate District Democratic Executive Committee will meet to vote on three names to submit to Governor Justice to fill the vacancy.
The committee will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday at Giovanni’s Restaurant at 1102 Main Street, Chapmanville.
Interested applicants from Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, and Wayne counties may submit their resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Boone County, already in the district, currently has a sitting Senator, so submissions from that county will not be accepted.
Ojeda’s resignation letter made mention of his hopes for a replacement.
“I sincerely hope that the Governor remains honorable to his office, does right by my constituents, and selects a strong Democrat,” Ojeda wrote. “One who is not a lobbyist or a friend. One who stands proudly and honestly for the district.”