West Virginia lawmaker to resign, focus on run for president

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — 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.

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 a Republican 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.

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