Former West Virginia state senator and retired U.S. Army major Richard Ojeda has made things official. He plans to run for president as a Democrat in 2020, despite a highly-anticipated, overly-packed Democratic field of contenders. Ojeda made the decision after losing his congressional bid in WV-03 last Tuesday, The Intercept reported.
Ojeda's plan is simple: to go back to the Democratic Party's roots. He believes the Democrats can win over working people if they paint President Donald Trump out to be a populist fraud and paint a stark contract to Trump's inability to "drain the swamp."
"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.”
The failed congressional candidate decided to run for president after concluding that those considering a run in 2020 wouldn't be able to stand up to Trump and draw the clear contract that the Democrats need to win.
"We’re going to have quite a few lifetime politicians that are going to throw their hat in the ring, but I guarantee you there’s going to be a hell of a lot more of them than there are people like myself — that is, a working-class person that basically can relate to the people on the ground, the people that are actually struggling,” he said. “I’m not trying to throw stones at people that are rich, but once again, we will have a field that will be full of millionaires and, I’m sure, a few billionaires.”
Although Ojeda lacks political experience, he sees that as an asset, not a liability. He believes it makes him more relatable to working class folks, like those he hopes to represent.
From The Intercept:
The Democratic Party’s coalition is fueled by women and an increasingly diverse base. When I asked if a white man from West Virginia could understand what was behind the Black Lives Matter movement, he argued that his experience living in and among the working class — which is heavily made up of black and Hispanic people — gives him insight into that struggle. “I can understand it far better than the millionaires and billionaires sitting around the conference tables in Washington, D.C. That’s a fact. Guess what? I’ve worked side by side with those people; I’ve served in the military with the people that lived in those communities,” he said. “I know far more about that life than [elites in Washington] know about that life. So when someone stands up that has a bank account that’s got $50 or $60 million in it, I personally could care less what they have to say about how they’re gonna … how they know what a single parent who is trying to put food on the table feels. Because they don’t.”
Although he lacks political experience, Ojeda believes his experience in the Military would provide him with the necessary tools to create a political organization and structure that could be successful.
While he enlisted in the Army as a private out of high school, he said, he rose through the ranks to oversee a vast operation. “When I started in the military, I started as a private, the lowest rank you could possibly go, but I was also the chief of operations for the 20th Airborne engineers in Iraq, where we were in control of over 7,000 engineers. And every single operation that went on throughout the entire country of Iraq went through my JOC, and I was the chief of operations,” he said. The military helped put Ojeda through college and graduate school, and he now uses his experience overseas to argue against militarism and in favor of a diplomatic approach.
Other likely 2020 contenders include Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand, billionaire Michael Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden.