Ojeda running for US Senate after failed presidential bid

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Army veteran and former presidential hopeful Richard Ojeda filed Monday to run for U.S. Senate in West Virginia.

The Democrat marked his latest foray into national politics with an online announcement detailing some of his policy proposals and a pledge to confront Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate.

“I believe Mitch McConnell needs a thorn in his side and nobody is better at that than me ... Richard Ojeda,” he wrote.

Ojeda resigned a seat in the West Virginia Senate last year to mount a long-shot bid for the presidency, but quit about two months into the race, saying he failed to garner enough money or attention to sustain his candidacy.

The retired paratrooper also came up short in a 2018 congressional race but has said his campaign was derailed by a Department of Veterans Affairs staffer who had been charged with leaking medical records. The accusation emerged in a lawsuit filed by Ojeda against the VA last year for documents relating to the agency's investigation of former claims assistant Jeffery S. Miller. Miller has pleaded guilty in the case.

His 2020 candidacy pits him against incumbent U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who served seven terms in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate in 2014. Capito, who announced she was running for reelection in April, has additional longstanding ties to the state through her three-term governor father, Arch A. Moore Jr.

Stateside, Ojeda was a champion of teachers during their fight for better pay and benefits. He sponsored successful legislation to make medical marijuana legal, and has stressed health care and economic issues in areas reeling from lost coal jobs.

“My dedication is to turn our state into something more than just a place that is known for struggle," Ojeda wrote in his announcement. ”I’m asking each one of you to give me the chance to be your voice in DC, and if you do, I promise you I will not let you down."

Monday, which was the official opening of the state's 2020 candidate filing period, also saw some of Republican Gov. Jim Justice's primary opponents formally get into the race. Former commerce secretary Woody Thrasher and former state House of Delegates member Mike Folk have filed to run against Justice, after months of lobbing barbs and campaigning against the incumbent.