July 20, 2021
West Virginia — Two-time West Virginia U.S. Senate candidate and activist Paula Jean Swearengin announced that she is joining the People’s Party as national Candidate Engagement Director and West Virginia State Director.
The Netflix documentary Knock Down the House featured Swearengin and her bid against Sen. Joe Manchin in 2018. Swearengin also won her primary in 2020, to went on to challenge Republican Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito in the general election.
In a statement to the public Swearengin describes her decision to leave the Democrat Party and join the People’s Party, “I’m sick and tired of polished politicians and band-aid solutions. Two-party systems are gatekeepers who work for the corporations and they don’t let the rest of us into their so-called big tent,” Swearengin said, “If we don’t work and fight together and build a major new party that works for all of us, we’ll continue to suffer together.”
She went on to say of her runs for office, “The Democrat party didn’t just refuse to support our campaigns, they actively worked against us.”
As one example, Swearengin describes the Democrat Party refusing to support a debate between herself and Republican incumbent Shelley Moore-Capito, “Even though I was the U.S. Senate Democratic Candidate in West Virginia, in 2020 the Party refused to support a debate between myself and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito. They’d rather ignore a non-corporate candidate that would take them to task than give the voters a real choice.”
“Most recently the West Virginia Democrat Party had a public racist implosion within their Democrat Executive Committee meeting,” said Swearengin. “Despite a public outcry, we heard crickets from Sen. Joe Manchin and the Democrat Party National leaders, even after the public demanded the Chair of the West Virginia State Party to step down.”
In her statement, Swearengin mentions her background as an organizer and the history of labor movement organizing in Appalachia. “I’m an ordinary coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter. I’m a single mother. A grandmother. I know what it’s like to work minimum-wage jobs and organize as a volunteer just trying to fight for a better life. Appalachia has a deep history of organizers that shed blood for labor rights, Swearengin said. “From the battle on Blair Mountain to Bloody Harlan County, Appalachians helped build the roots of the labor movement and the fight continues to this day. We shouldn’t have to spend generations fighting for basic human rights. I carry this legacy with me.”
Swearengin’s duties at the People’s Party will include mentorship and training to Party candidates, infrastructure advising for campaign support as Candidate Engagement director, and building up support as West Virginia State Director. “I look forward to helping vet and mentor candidates that are ordinary people like myself. And help advise on systems that actually build real support for candidates and their teams,” Swearengin said. “We are working to put the power back in the hands of the people. I’m joining a Party that does better than making promises on the campaign trail only to pass bread-crumb legislation when they make it to office.”