The unemployed coal industry worker behind one of the most telling moments of the 2016 presidential race said Tuesday that he’s challenging West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III next year.
Bo Copley, who confronted Manchin and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton one year ago at a small event inside a medical clinic in Williamson, W. Va., told Yahoo News in an interview that he was filing paperwork for the Republican primary for the Senate seat.
“With everything that has happened over the past year, with all of the attention we have received, with all of the people saying, ‘We really appreciate you representing us,’ we thought maybe people want someone to represent them who understands what they’re going through,” Copley told Yahoo’s Olivier Knox. “It’s what God’s telling me to do.”
The story of how Copley got to the Clinton campaign event in the first place despite being an obvious critic was a classic tale of life in a small town, as reported at the time.
“We coach three soccer teams, and Dr. Beckett’s son and his daughter played soccer for me, and so we’ve gotten fairly close,” Copley said after the event, with tears. “They approached me Saturday and said they thought of me. They were looking for an out-of-work coal miner because being close to us and seeing us, they knew our situation.”
Dr. Dino Beckett is the chief executive officer at the health and wellness center in Mingo County, which is one of the places most devastated by the loss of jobs in the coal industry.
Copley told Manchin at the time of his advocacy for Clinton that, “honestly, if I can be candid, I think still supporting her hurts you. It does.”
President Donald Trump dominated at the polls in West Virginia, as was expected. Trump carried 68.5 percent of the vote, and in Mingo County Trump received 7,911 votes, as compared with 1,370 for Clinton.