Manchin's State of Union guest to challenge Rep. Nick Rahall

Richard Ojeda, a West Virginia veteran who was Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) guest at the State of the Union last year, apparently liked what he saw of Congress.

Ojeda has announced that he plans to challenge 19-term congressional veteran Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) in the state’s upcoming primary.

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In an interview with WVOW radio, Ojeda says he is running because “a lot of things that have gotten worse” in his hometown.

“This country doesn’t have to be run by multi-millionaires,” Ojeda said.  “There is nothing wrong with people who have become millionaires, but there is nothing wrong with the common person running and winning an election and having the idea and fortitude to make the needed changes.  I hope more common people will stand up at all levels of government.  These lifetime politicians have set it up to where they have almost no accountability.” 

But his entrance into the race may present an awkward dynamic for the two senior West Virginia officeholders. Rahall’s political rivals are likely to seize on Manchin’s effusive praise for Ojeda in a bid to create distance between the Democrats.

In a statement last February, Manchin called the Afghanistan and Iraq veteran “one of the most well-loved and active members of his community.”

“His work and dedication to the Logan community is an inspiration to us all and that is why I am so proud to invite Richard to represent West Virginia as my guest,” Manchin said.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has said Rahall is among their top targets in the 2014 midterms. He won his seat by 8 points in 2012, his narrowest margin since 1990.