A failed congressional candidate in West Virginia announced Monday that he will run for the White House in 2020, making him the first Democrat to officially take on President Trump.
Richard Ojeda, a decorated Army veteran of the Iraq War who lost a Democratic bid to represent West Virginia’s deeply red 3rd House district last week, declared his intention to challenge Trump in a video posted to his campaign’s Facebook page.
“We got a long ways to go and it’s going to be a long fight but we’re going to do this together because I’m Richard Ojeda and I’m running for President of the United States of America,” Ojeda, 48, said in the video.
The square-jawed, heavily tattooed Democrat said his first campaign pledge will be to root out corruption in politics by putting a cap on how much wealth presidents and members of Congress can accumulate while in office.
“We have elected officials who say they are going to run for office to serve the people, but in reality they legislate themselves into wealth,” Ojeda said. “What I believe in is that everyone who runs for federal office has to prove that they mean what they say when they talk about sacrifice. That means you are given a net worth of $1 million and anything above that you donate to charity and I don’t mean your children, to actual charity.”
Ojeda’s announcement was unexpected and his chances at clinching the Democratic nomination are likely slim. But his early entry provides a glimpse of how expansive the Democratic field is expected to be in the next presidential election.
Ojeda voted for Trump in 2016 but has since soured on the President and accused him of not living up to his campaign promises.
In his failed populist House bid, Ojeda tried to curry favor with his traditionally conservative constituents by arguing that both Republicans and Democrats have lost touch with the people they are supposed to represent.
“The President of the United States, Republicans and Democrats have focused more on infighting,” he said in Monday’s announcement video.
Ojeda lost by 12% to Republican Carol Miller in last week’s midterm election. Trump won the same district by 49 points in the 2016 election.