Richard Ojeda is running for president. Ojeda, a West Virginia state senator and retired U.S. Army major, lost his congressional bid in the state's 3rd District on Tuesday, but saw the largest swing of Trump voters toward Democrats in any district around the country — overperforming 2016 by more than 35 points. Still, in a district that Donald Trump carried by 49 points, Ojeda, who rose to prominence because of his support for a teachers strike in West Virginia, lost by 12 points.
Ojeda's case for his candidacy is straightforward: The Democratic Party has gotten away from its roots, and he has a unique ability to win over a white, black, and brown working-class coalition by arguing from a place of authority that Trump is a populist fraud. He's launching his campaign with an anti-corruption focus that draws a contrast with Trump's inability to "drain the swamp."
His authority — and one of his greatest liabilities — would come, in part, from his own previous support of Trump in the 2016 general election. After backing Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary, Ojeda refused to support Hillary Clinton, seeing her as an embodiment of the party's drift toward the elite.
"The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party that fights for the working class, and that's exactly what I do."
"I have been a Democrat ever since I registered to vote, and I'll stay a Democrat, but that's because of what the Democratic Party was supposed to be," he told The Intercept. "The reason why the Democratic Party fell from grace is because they become nothing more than elitist. That was it. Goldman Sachs, that's who they were. The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party that fights for the working class, and that's exactly what I do. I will stand with unions wholeheartedly, and that's the problem: the Democratic Party wants to say that, but their actions do not mirror that."
Ojeda turned on Trump early in his term, concluding that the president's interest in improving the lives of working people like those Ojeda grew up with in West Virginia, or served with in the military, was fake. Now, he wants to break the spell Trump still holds on half the country.
"We have a person that has come down to areas like Appalachia and has tried…and has convinced these people that he is for them, when in reality the people that he has convinced couldn't even a