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W.Va. State Senate Candidate Wins Primary Days After Brutal Assault

Military vet Richard Ojeda topples incumbent after being beaten at a cookout

He toppled an incumbent in his district’s Democratic primary Tuesday night. Now West Virginia state Senate candidate Richard Ojeda has another pressing issue to work out: How to eat a congratulatory fruit plate with his newly fractured jaw.  

Ojeda, a 45-year-old Democrat and military veteran, was brutally beaten at a cookout two days before the primary in what the candidate told local news reporters was a politically motivated attack .  

Ojeda said he has known his alleged assailant, Jonathan Porter, since they were children, according to a NBC News report.  

Ojeda was at political cookout where Porter asked him to put a campaign sticker on the rear bumper of his truck. Porter then asked for another on the front, and when Ojeda knelt to comply, Porter allegedly began beating him with a pair of brass knuckles , kicked him and tried to run over him with the truck , according to local news reports.  

Porter was charged with malicious assault, attempted malicious assault and felony destruction of property, according to local news reports.  

Police have said they do not know the motivation for the attack. But Ojeda told NBC reporters in a hospital bed interview that his campaign for transparency and good government had made him a target in a region plagued with poverty, corruption and nepotism.  

“The moment you start asking questions, you become public enemy number one,” Ojeda reportedly said.  

Ojeda defeated state Sen. Art Kirkendoll in West Virginia’s 7th state Senate district, which includes Boone, Logan and Lincoln counties, as well as parts of Mingo and Wayne counties.  

Kirkendoll reportedly said in a statement that he was praying for Ojeda and he did not condone violence.  

Tuesday night he posted this on his Facebook page:  

Contact Akin at and follow her on Twitter at @stephanieakin.

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