Coal miner’s daughter Paula Jean Swearengin has pledged a fight for the rights of all people in West Virginia and the nation. Her people-funded campaign is against U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the energy industry candidate. The primary is on May 8. Paula’s campaign symbolizes the effort of leaders of the people in West Virginia and throughout the country who are utilizing electoral politics to put the urgent needs of the people in the forefront of our fight for a new society. Paula spoke with the People’s Tribune about the significance of her campaign.
“We have volunteers in 50 counties—teachers, coal miners, waitresses, people from all walks of life who donate locally,” she said. “Ninety percent of our donations are small. Joe Manchin says he is running a grassroots campaign, but how is that possible if you are taking corporate funding? He has $4.5 million in a bank account. We have proven you don’t need big money. We’re the poorest, sickest state, and we’re united, we’re ready for change. We’re seeing an uprising in West Virginia. I’m so proud of people in our state. And when I say we’re progressives, I don’t mean Democrat or Republican. Even a lot of Republicans got behind my campaign. We want clean and safe jobs, a livable wage, we want clean water, we want clean air and opportunities for our children, and we want healthcare. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from, everybody is saying we want the same things. We don’t want these corporate politicians.
“Opioids are a big issue, and feeds back to big Pharma. We don’t have enough funding to get recovery. One drug treats another drug. My neighbor, a young woman who would love to get off this drug, says, ‘I can’t afford to go into rehab.’ My opponent and all these ‘national leaders’ on the ballot are funded by big Pharma or energy. Joe Manchin talks about the opioid crisis, but his second biggest funder is his daughter, who owns Mylan, the drug company accused of hiking the price of the Epipen that treats severe allergic reactions. Don Blankenship, who is responsible for the death of 29 miners, is on the Senate ballot on the Republican side. It’s so corrupt.
“We went out to Ritchie County, because they are one of many counties that go unnoticed, and there’s fracking there. We talked to community members and to Lissa Lucas, a progressive candidate for WV House of Delegates. A man had his well water tested and it had high levels of methane and arsenic because of fracking near his home. People ask, why go to Ritchie County? Well I said West Virginia will get their national voice. We let everybody know that if you mess with one of us you mess with all of us. Lissa lives in a conservative county, but it’s the same thing there, the people want the same basic human rights.
“West Virginia is still dealing with water pollution. This year alone I buried three of my friends to cancer. After Trump came in they got rid of the Stream Protection Rule. It wasn’t just Democrats or Republicans. All these politicians were photo opting with coal owners, calling it a coal-killing regulation. This was some of the water protection we fought for years for, but they smiled and took it away. One common thing that unites all of us together across this nation is water. Let’s put Flint and Standing Rock, and other places like Minden, WV where people are dying from toxic water and PCBs and sewage is running through their community, and North Carolina where people haven’t had clean water for five years, together. I can’t believe this is America. We have to strategize and unite. We won’t win this nation until we fight together. Nobody should fall short in prosperity and opportunity in any area of this nation.”
Donate to Paula’s campaign at secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/paulajean2018, or mail Paula Swearengin 2018, PO Box 604, Morgantown, WV 26507. Visit paulajean.com and paulajean2018.com.