WVa Senate Candidate: I Was Beaten in Political Attack

Suspect arrested in assault on Democrat Richard Ojeda
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2016 8:57 AM CDT
Jonathan Porter   (West Virginia Southwestern Regional Jail, via NBC News)
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(Newser) – Politics can be rough stuff, but for one West Virginia Senate candidate it got downright violent. Authorities say retired Army officer Richard Ojeda, a Democrat running in Tuesday's primary, was brutally beaten by a man wearing brass knuckles at a political cookout on Sunday, the AP reports. Per the Washington Post, Jonathan Porter, 41, was arrested and charged with malicious assault for the attack, which left Ojeda—who's known Porter since they were kids—with multiple head and face fractures and a concussion. And while officials aren't sure what the motive was, Ojeda thinks he knows. "This was premeditated and there was a reason the guy did this," he wrote Sunday on his campaign's Facebook page. Ojeda, who has been campaigning against the region's corruption and poverty, adds, per NBC News, that "the moment you start asking questions, you become public enemy number one."

Per the State Journal, Ojeda says Porter approached him at the cookout, asked for a bumper sticker, then attacked. "As I'm kneeling down putting the bumper sticker on [Porter's truck], that's the last thing I remember, other than … coming to where my head's on a tree stump and I'm spitting blood," Ojeda says. Witnesses say after the beating, Porter hopped in his truck and tried to run Ojeda over before bystanders stopped him; Porter then fled, surrendering a few hours later. Ojeda, 45, tells the State Journal he'd received menacing phone calls recently, including one that said, "You're going to wind up dead floating in the Guyandotte River." But the man described in a Facebook post as "tough as woodpecker lips" says he's dealt with al-Qaeda and the Taliban and writes he's "now even more dedicated to the cause. This doesn't scare me." Porter has also been charged with malicious attempted assault and felony destruction of property. (Voting in West Virginia? No selfies in the booth.)

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