Richard Ojeda, candidate for U.S. House Third District


HD Media

CHARLESTON - West Virginia state senator and presidential candidate Richard Ojeda announced plans to resign from his elected office Wednesday.

Ojeda, a Democrat from Logan County, said he's resigning to focus on the 2020 campaign.

"I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America, and I'm not going to let my seat sit empty while I'm in Iowa," he said.

An Army veteran and populist with a knack for media attention, Ojeda gained attention with the passage of legislation enabling the sale of marijuana for medical purposes in 2017 and as a key figure in the 2018 statewide teacher and school service personnel strike.

He said even though the medical marijuana program needs a banking fix from the Statehouse this year and other programs need their champions, he can do more from the campaign trail bringing attention to West Virginia than he can from the Senate chamber.

"I think the people know that the people in West Virginia are going to be in my interest," he said.

Ojeda won his state Senate seat in 2016. Last year, he vied for an open seat in the 3rd Congressional District, but lost in the general election to former Delegate Carol Miller by about 13 points.

Ojeda said he would officially step down from the Senate sometime next week.

This is the second year in a row in which a sitting senator has resigned from office in the first week of the 60-day legislative session. Former Sen. Jeff Mullins resigned Jan. 12, 2018.