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Democrat Richard Ojeda announces Senate bid after dropping out of presidential race

Former state legislator Richard Ojeda, who briefly launched a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, will challenge Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) in 2020, he announced Monday.

Ojeda resigned his state Senate seat in early 2019 to mount his bid for the nomination, suspending his presidential campaign the following January. In a letter posted on DemCast Monday, he wrote that around the time he suspended his campaign, he attempted to get his Senate seat back before being told the decision was irreversible.

“After much thought and communication with family and friends I have decided to continue my fight for the state I was raised in and love,” he wrote. “I have decided to take on Shelly Moore Capito in the United States Senate race. I believe Mitch McConnell needs a thorn in his side and nobody is better at that than me … Richard Ojeda.”

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Ojeda, whose brief presidential campaign emphasized an economic populist message, wrote that as a senator he would ensure the coal miners who make up much of the state’s electorate would be able to transition to “real jobs” when coal companies “pull pitch and runs.”

He further promises to take on opioid manufacturers in the state, which has been hit particularly hard by the addiction crisis, and work for LGBTQ rights and to take action to reverse the Citizens United campaign finance decision by the Supreme Court.

Ojeda, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, announced the end of his brief White House campaign last January, saying it would be unfair to his supporters to continue asking for donations while he said he was not getting enough media attention to have a realistic chance of winning.

Before running for president, Ojeda, who voted for President Trump in 2016 but later became a vocal critic of his policies, led the state’s 2018 teachers strike.

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