New: Former Dem presidential hopeful Richard Ojeda to headline anti-Trump rally

State Senator Richard Ojeda salutes his campaign supporters during his first campaign event of his presidential run at a rally at the Teamsters 783 head quarters on November 19, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ojeda, a retired Army major, announced his presidential bid for 2020. | John Sommers II/Getty Images

Retired Army Maj. Richard Ojeda, who briefly ran for president, will be the main speaker at the “Rise Above” rally on Thursday protesting President Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Grand Rapids.

Ojeda, a Democratic former state senator from West Virginia who helped lead a teachers’ revolt, was defeated in his 2018 congressional race. He garnered significant attention since he voted for Trump in 2016 but said he soon came to regret it. He left the presidential race in January.

Baby Trump will be in Grand Rapids; he did a stint in London | Michael Reeve, Flickr

Ojeda arrived in West Michigan on Wednesday and will be there until Saturday, working with Democrats to reach out to veterans and Trump voters ahead of the 2020 election.

Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Paul Kanan said Ojeda is committed to helping with its quest to ensure that the state is “not going to be Donald Trump’s this time around” after he won Michigan in 2016.

“We are thrilled to have someone like Major Ojeda coming to Michigan who’s very strong bulwark against some of the tough talk that Donald Trump throws out there,” said Kanan. “He represents Democratic values — he values working people; he values unions. He understands that you don’t mess around or play politics with men and women in uniform.”

Rob Davidson

Kanan said Ojeda talk about issues like health care, education, immigration and the military. He said Ojeda can speak to how military personnel should have “health care and the security that they’ve earned” instead of funds being “funneled to build Donald Trump’s wall.”

The “Rise Above” rally is slated to take place from 5 to 8 p.m. in Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Kanan said. The event is scheduled to have the “Baby Trump” balloon.

Other speakers will include state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids); Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack; and two former congressional candidates, Cathy Albro and Dr. Rob Davison, now executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare and the ACA.

Rachel Hood

“Groups will be there one reason: Donald Trump and his ideas aren’t welcome here,” Kanan said.

Trump is expected to campaign hard in Michigan, as it was one of the states key to his 2016 victory.

Michigan has already had four Democratic candidates for president campaign here: former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.).

Scheduled to come in May are: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and possible hopeful Stacey Abrams.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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