Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Paula Jean Swearengin won West Viriginia's Democratic primary race for a U.S. Senate seat on June 9, 2020.

Paula Jean Swearengin won West Viriginia's Democratic primary race for a U.S. Senate seat on June 9, 2020. (Photo: Paula Jean Swearengin/Facebook)

'A Battle Cry From Appalachia': Progressive Paula Jean Swearengin Wins US Senate Primary in West Virginia

"This campaign has always been about the movement for a better future," said the victorious Democrat who ran on Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.

Jessica Corbett

A coal miner's daughter and granddaughter with a progressive vision for West Virginia won the state's Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate race Tuesday and will now work to oust Republican incumbent Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in November.

"This movement is a battle cry from Appalachia and for people across this country," Paula Jean Swearengin said in a statement after her victory. "West Virginians are done waiting for politicians to do the right thing. The people of this state are ready to return our government to one of, by, and for the people."

Along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Swearengin was featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary Knock Down the House for her unsuccessful 2018 primary challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), widely considered the chamber's most conservative Democrat.

With 98% of precincts reporting, Swearengin on Tuesday earned nearly 40% of the vote, more than either former West Virginia State Sen. Richard Ojeda (33%) or attorney Richie Robb (29.1%), according to the New York Times. Moore Capito easily won the GOP primary.

Swearengin's website says she is taking on Moore Capito "to restore economic opportunity for our entire Appalachian community, make Medicare for All a reality, and bring our progressive values to the U.S. Senate." Her platform prioritizes promoting economic diversity—including a just transition away from coal—addressing the opioid epidemic, updating the state's infrastructure, and investing in education.

"No one person or election will solve the systemic injustices that plague our society," said Swearengin. "But, together, we can stand in solidarity with the cause."

"When we unite our fight for justice, we can accomplish our goals," she added with a nod to the protests provoked by the police killing of George Floyd. "We can end systemic racism. We can guarantee healthcare as a human right. We can ensure every person has clean air to breathe and clean water to drink."

Organizations that endorsed Swearengin include Brand New Congress, Blue America, Flip the Senate, Save Main Street, Progressives Rising, Future Generations, 90 for 90, and the Eastern Panhandle Green Coalition, Progressive Democrats for America, and Forward Thinking Democracy.

Groups allied with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who suspended his second presidential campaign as a Democratic candidate in April, also backed Swearengin. Women for Bernie and Silvers for Sanders endorsed her, and People for Bernie welcomed her primary win in a pair of tweets Tuesday night:

"This campaign has always been about the movement for a better future," said Swearengin. "I am grateful to have the support of these groups and especially of the people of West Virginia. I am proud of what this campaign has accomplished so far, and I know we will defeat Capito in November."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'What Happens When You Warm a Planet': Massive Flooding Kills At Least 8 in Seoul

"Two months' worth of rain in half a day. We are in a climate emergency," wrote meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

Jake Johnson ·


Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·


New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·


Michigan AG Urges Probe of Alleged GOP-Led Effort to Break Into Voting Machines

"We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections," said one democracy defender.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo