Democrat Ojeda Seeks to Oust Trump, the President He Voted For

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Richard Ojeda, a blunt-speaking retired Army major with a Mountaineer State drawl and dozens of tattoos, voted for Donald Trump in 2016. It’s a choice most in his home state of West Virginia made. Trump won overwhelmingly there.

“Would I vote for him today? Absolutely not," Ojeda said in a Bloomberg Television interview outlining his campaign plans. "I’m running against this guy because we deserve better."

Ojeda in 2016 passed up a reelection bid as state senator in West Virginia to run for Congress. The coal mining-reliant 3rd in the south of the state is a place of almost-heaven vistas, but also a surging opioid epidemic. It’s the sort of seat that was ancestrally safe for Democrats backed by powerful labor unions, but has evolved as white working-class voters fled to the GOP to become one of the reddest House districts in America.

Ojeda lost that race, but gained wide respect among Democrats for his unconventional campaign and brash style. Arguing Trump and Republicans didn’t live up to the hype for working voters, he cut the GOP margin of victory in his district from 49 points in Trump’s 2016 win to just 13.

Ojeda is a longshot. He knows that. He acknowledges that. Yet when asked what separates him from other possible Democratic contenders, he says simply that many others eyeing the race aren’t "fighting for the people."

Ojeda says he’ll run on his populist appeal to working-class Americans who, like himself, were drawn to President Trump in 2016. While he’s pledged not to take corporate political action committee money, he said he is very supportive of labor unions and has no issue receiving campaign contributions from them or standing alongside them on a picket line.

"If all we’ve got is the dirt poor and the filthy rich, the dirt poor would eat the filthy rich," he said, adding he doesn’t have a problem with people being filthy rich, per se. “Take care of your working class citizens and your working class citizens will take care of you.”

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