CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — A familiar name to West Virginia educators is in the spotlight, but West Virginia Sen. Richard Ojeda is on a national stage this time after he announced his plans for 2020.
"I'm running for the president of the United States of America,” Ojeda said.
Beyond the state's 3rd District, where Ojeda lost his congressional bid, Ojeda is well-known among West Virginia teachers. Some of them, however, were surprised to hear of his plan.
"It surprised me, and I think a lot of other people," teacher Don Scalise said. "I suppose most people thought he would let the dust settle on the mid-term election before moving forward with any other plans, let alone saying, 'I’m running for president.' ”
National headlines that followed Ojeda's presidential campaign announcement said he led the West Virginia statewide teacher strike. West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said that is not quite true.
"He did not lead the work action. He was very supportive of the work action. The leaders of the work action were the thousands of educators who stood united and made the important decision to step out of the classroom for the students of West Virginia,” Lee said.
Of the state senators and delegates who backed the teachers during the days spent at the Capitol, Scalise remembers Ojeda's support from the start.
"The teacher strike was probably something that was a ground up movement, but Ojeda was one of the people who was sounding the alarm before it was popular to really be with the teachers,” Scalise said.
While Ojeda didn't win the 3rd District in his race for Congress, Scalise said as a Democrat he might have better chances on a national scale.
"A lot of people don't want to see Hillary Clinton again. Bernie Sanders, probably too old, so I suppose Ojeda might be thinking, 'Why not me? Why not give this a chance'?" Scalise said.
Ojeda will be kicking off his presidential campaign in Louisville, Ky., next week.