On Tuesday, the West Virginia state Senator Richard Ojeda won the Democratic nomination easily in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. Richard Ojeda is pushing a populism that is changing the political landscape in the Appalachian Mountains; he’s supported the teachers strike, the new marijuana industry, and even higher taxes on West Virginia’s sacred cows—the oil and natural gas corporations. He also voted for Donald Trump.
Richard Ojeda has explained that he supported Trump because of regional solidarity—the failing coal economy had impoverished places such as Logan, West Virginia, which is where Ojeda lives, and he thought incompetent Trump was more inclined to recharge that industry than Hillary Clinton. In a Mother Jones interview in April, he explained his foolish vote for Trump by noting that back in 2016 the state elected Jim Justice as well, a billionaire coal tycoon who ran as a Democrat prior to switching parties in 2017:
We did the same thing with the governor that we got from this state. He was a billionaire, told everybody, “We’re going to do this, all these great things. I’m a wizard when it comes to business, and I’m going to be a wizard for the state. I’m going to be a wizard for the country.” That’s basically what we were told, and you know what? We’re always like, “Hey, let’s give them a chance. They didn’t become billionaires because they’re stupid.” We didn’t realize that many cases most of them inherited most of it. That’s how it was. We bought it.
But Ojeda won’t be buying it anymore. Here is what he said when he was asked by Mother Jones about Donald Trump’s disastroud presidency:
Come on. It’s been a circus. Put your cell phone down. Stop tweeting and fighting with Rosie O’Donnell. Be a president. Kick your kids out of the Oval Office. When I hear Ivanka Trump saying how she looks forward to working side by side with General Kelly, a guy who’s got 40 years’ worth of experience leading troops all across the world, and she makes handbags, come on. Be a president. We need that.
I don’t want him to fail. I don’t want him to fail because he’s our president. He’s piloting the plane that we’re all on. But goodness gracious, this is just brutal. And every day, there’s something new that comes out that seems like it’s pushing us closer to war with another country…We’ve got to be smarter than this.
That Richard Ojeda’s Trump vote won’t be a deal-breaker during the “Resistance” midterm is due to the fluid party loyalties they have in southern West Virginia, which is where lying Trump carried heavily Democratic regions (including Ojeda’s state Senate district) with overwhelming numbers. Most Democrats in Logan naively voted for Trump. But even though Trump completely forgot about West Virginians and was lying to them about his plans to help them,Ojeda is still popular, because he’s shown that he cares about his constituents.
“What other Democrat could say, ‘Hey, I voted for Trump,’ and we’d still be like, ‘Oh, no, I love this guy,” explained Brianne Solomon, who is a teacher that ran unopposed during her Democratic primary over a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates. “But then when he said why and apologized, it’s like, ‘Oh, okay. Well, he’s not trying to cover anything up.’ Everyone needs that. I think this is just a microcosm of what everyone in this country craves right now—we don’t want bullshitt, you know?”
See the rest of the report on Richard Ojeda here: