LOGAN, W.Va. — Within hours of each other Thursday May 11, Del. Rupie Phillips (R-WV24) Sen. Richard Ojeda, (D-Logan), announced they will run for West Virginia’s Third District congressional seat.
Phillips made his announcement at 1:30 p.m. May 11 at the State Capitol.
Ojeda originally said he was going to make the announcement Monday, but decided he wanted to make his bid at 5 p.m. May 11 on Midelburg Island in Logan.
“I believe that what we need in Washington, D.C. is a fire,” Ojeda said. “And I believe the fire is right here. And I believe that we need someone there to speak on the behalf of the Third Congressional District. I think that we need somebody there that’s going to really stand up for the people in these areas.”
Ojeda just completed his first legislative session as a state senator, representing district 7.
His most notable act during the session was becoming the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 386, also known as the Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act. SB 386 was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice on April 19.
“Remember I am the freshman senator that was told ‘you will never get medicinal marijuana even taken out of a committee.’ I got it out of one committee, I got it out of a second committee, I got it through the senate floor and we got it passed. As a freshman senator I can say that I got medicinal marijuana passed in the state of West Virginia, but there’s a lot of things that still need to be done.”
Ojeda was also the lead sponsor of six other bills, most of which dealt with labor issues. These bills were not passed during the regular session.
Ojeda said the transition to new industries would be beneficial to West Virginia citizens who are looking for work and to the economy in the state.
“We’ve got hard-working people around here but we just have nothing for them to do if they’re not in the coal mines,” Ojeda said. “We need to look at all these machine shops that actually support the mines and see if there’s a way we can transition those machine shops to doing something else.”
During his announcement and interview with the Logan Banner, Phillips focused on the revival of the coal industry.
Phillips noted he believes the economic conditions under Trump will eventually bring back the nation’s need for the area’s metallurgical and steam coal.
“I want to go to D.C. and continue to fight the liberals to keep coal mines going and to keep Second Amendment rights where they need to be. I’m fighting for the future of the children of West Virginia, the country and coal jobs,” commented Phillips.
Phillips is running for the Republican nomination for the seat, but he began his career in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2010 as a Democrat.
Phillips switched his affiliation and became the state’s only Independent legislator in January.
During the last legislative session, Phillips sponsored a littering bill that heavily strengthened penalties for the crime.
Both men are running for the seat being vacated by Evan Jenkins. Jenkins is vacating the congressional seat to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin.
Nancy Peyton and Owen Wells are reporters for Civitas Media. They can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]