West Virginia lawmaker to resign, focus on run for president

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A retired Army paratrooper and West Virginia lawmaker who formalized his campaign for the presidency on Veterans Day is stepping down from the state Senate.

Democrat Richard Ojeda told news outlets that he's resigning as of next week because he doesn't want his seat to sit empty while he's campaigning for president in 2020. Republican Gov. Jim Justice will choose his replacement.

A representative for the Democrat representing Logan County said he would not be a part-time representative for the people in his district and he wants them to have the same level of representation he provided in the past.

The tattooed veteran who carries a populist message in a district reeling from lost coal jobs announced his presidential ambitions after losing a congressional race to Republican Carol Miller in November.

Ojeda is of Mexican descent and became 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.

"I chose to run for Congress because I wanted to help the people in southern West Virginia," Ojeda said during his November announcement of his presidential candidacy. "We have not had people that have really fought for the working class citizens in this country."

The process to choose Ojeda's replacement will go as follows: the county Democrat executive committee from his district will appoint five men and five women to choose three names, and Gov. Jim Justice will then pick one.