More than 32K donors contribute to put a WV Coal Miner’s Daughter in the Senate

The Paula Jean Swearengin campaign has raised more than 1.4 million dollars this cycle to put a coal miner’s daughter in the Senate.

“We’ve never seen this kind of momentum in a month. We’ve more in the third quarter than in the whole of the preceding four quarters,” said Robyn Cain, Financial Officer for Paula Jean’s campaign. “We raised nearly $100K on September 30th alone.”

Almost 60,000 donations, at an average donation of only $26 each, have buoyed Paula Jean’s “no corporate PAC money” campaign with a huge influx of cash and momentum. 

Approximately 60% of Paula Jean’s donations are from small dollar donors.

By contrast (as of last quarter), more than 95% of Shelley Moore Capito’s donations come from wealthy donors, corporations, and committees. 

“What we’re seeing is people fighting to protect democracy,” said Lissa Lucas, Communications Director. “People are tired of a Senate filled with millionaires, of a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Paula Jean is a coal miner’s daughter rejecting corporate PAC money—and voters want someone who will represent them, not rule them.”

Fundraising Fast Facts:

  • Team Paula Jean raised more in the third quarter than in the whole of the preceding four quarters. (approximately 843K in Q3 v 1.44M total cycle to end of Q3)
  • Half of what we raised in Q3 was raised in the month of September.

  • Average donation of $26  from over 31,000 donors making more than 56,000 donations.

  • More than $450K was raised just in September, with nearly $100K raised on Sept 30 alone. 

  • Momentum:

    • More than half of what the campaign raised was raised in the third quarter. 

    • More than half of what was raised in the third quarter was raised in September alone. 

    • And nearly $100K was raised on Sept 30.

Media contact:
Lissa Lucas
Director of Communications, Paula Jean for Senate
[email protected]

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Paula Jean Swearengin stands in solidarity with workers wearing a red bandana

Paula Jean Swearengin: Truth to Power

Paula Jean Swearengin - It's time to speak truth to power.

“Unite our fight” has become a rallying cry for the Paula Jean Swearengin campaign, but it’s important to be clear about what that means. 

It means that no matter what, we unite behind workers. No matter what, we unite behind families. No matter what we unite behind the principles that will strengthen our democracy, and protect the vulnerable.

We unite to make sure that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. 

It’s also important to be clear about what “unite our fight” doesn’t mean. 

It does NOT mean we unite behind powerful oligarchs to cement their influence. It does NOT mean we unite behind exploitative industries to make the wealthy wealthier. It does NOT mean we unite behind corrupt power structures fighting to protect the status quo.

In fact, those are the things we must unite against: a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, and for the moneyed. 

In an ideal world, our parties represent core sets of principles that should inform the way our government-of-the-people goes about addressing the problems our country faces.

And make no mistake, we face big issues: the most immediately urgent is the pandemic, but we also face a climate crisis, a student debt crisis, a crisis of healthcare, an addiction crisis, a foster care crisis, an unemployment crisis, crumbling infrastructure, authoritarian overreach, and more. Nationwide, about 40% of people couldn’t come up with $400 for an emergency—and that was before the pandemic hit. 

Yet these pressing issues are not the problems our government-of-the-moneyed sets about solving. 

In our state last year, a special session was called by Governor Jim Justice  in order to give $12 million dollars to a coal-fired power plant, seemingly to appease a company he owed millions of dollars to. He was subsequently rewarded with campaign contributions. By contrast  this year he refuses to call a special session to distribute COVID relief money to people who need it. Instead of feeding hungry children or addressing the issues with distance learning, our kleptocrat-in-chief set $100 million aside for “COVID-19 related highway projects,” because raising the taxes of working people in order to pay for his ill-conceived road bond was not enough.

It will never be enough, because we’re paying for roads torn up by industry. It would take  many thousands of cars to do the same damage as one fully-loaded, large truck. Lobbyists and company execs are wealthy because working people are covering their costs. That is the way the system works—the way it’s designed to work—because the execs can afford to buy politicians to write the laws that way, placing their costs on our already overburdened backs. And the more laws they buy, the worse the disparity gets, and the more the rest of us struggle.

In no state government is this kleptocratic network more deeply embedded than in West Virginia. 

In 2016, the folks in power in the “blue team” united behind a candidate for governor that did not share our principles. It was a candidate who embodied ill-gotten wealth, exploitation—and who was widely known to avoid paying his taxes, fines, and even workers. His mines had terrible safety records. But he was a billionaire, and that was all that mattered to them.

Knowing all that, the blue team leaders and even the UMWA still endorsed him [cache]. Their recommendation went far in convincing rank-and-file voters who trusted their leadership that Jim Justice would be on their side.

But Justice is a part of the kleptocratic power structure that knows no party or loyalty. Predictably, he switched parties when it seemed politically convenient for him. Also predictably, the leadership of the “blue team” picked a new millionaire—using the same campaign personnel they’d used to run Justice—one that would attack the guy they had previously backed. And the leadership of the “red team,” which had rightly attacked Justice as a deadbeat coal baron in 2016, are now gathering around to support the red-jersey-wearer in the 2020 cycle. Leadership of the UMWA has likewise backtracked on Justice.

Yet Justice has had no epiphanic shift in beliefs or principles. He’s the exact same villain they endorsed in 2016. He just switched jersey colors for the sake of political convenience. And that’s enough for those who regard politics as a team sport and whose goal is power rather than good governance.

Sadly, without apology or acknowledgement of the hypocrisy, the power structures are united around money… not principle. Campaigns like Paula Jean’s, funded without corporate PAC money, threaten the corporate sell-outs and their ability to profit at our expense. That’s why they’re backing Capito, someone with a 28% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, the fortunes of our state—meaning the people living here in our state, not the people running the show—continues to decline. We’re one of only two states losing population

We can’t allow these corrupt kleptocrats to continue to barter away our democracy in exchange for money and power. We must not allow our lawmakers to sell themselves to the highest bidder, as has happened with First Energy in Ohio and West Virginia, or to just sell seats directly to millionaires and billionaires as has been happening here for far too long.

“Unite our fight” must not mean that our tent is so large that working people will not be safe sleeping inside it.

Paula Jean Swearengin stands in solidarity with workers wearing a red bandana

In West Virginia, we’re familiar with how the good honest work of miners is exploited by coal barons like Jim Justice. UMWA leadership knew what it was doing in 2016 when they endorsed Justice against the interest of miners–the stories were all public—yet they didn’t heed the outcry and were burned. The outcry is being raised again in 2020 with the endorsement of Capito, McKinley, and other purchased politicians: miners deserve more than just temporary jobs in an increasingly bankrupt industry. 

And the UMWA sees how these bankruptcies are scavenging coal communities. But they’re backing the Big Bankers’ Betty, a daughter of five-time felon convicted of political corruption.

Miners deserve a future where they know their work is valued and the benefits they fought for are not in jeopardy. They deserve communities with a bright future. They deserve our full support as our economy changes, not a punch in the face by “the invisible hand” of a market that itself is being sold to the highest bidder. 

“I am exactly who this ill-advised endorsement of a sold-out career politician ignores: I am a coal miners’ daughter. My family is a UMWA family. And I will not be silent and let my people be sacrificed.” —Paula Jean Swearengin

Capito, meanwhile, is doing her part taking money from coal barons to recite corporate talking points and legislating to protect execs in companies like Alpha Natural Resources, best known for paying their executives bonuses for stealing miner pensions.

Miners deserve communities of clean air and clean water. Capito has rolled back hard-fought protections and—reciting those corporate talking points—claims it will bring back coal jobs. She knows it won’t, and frankly that’s not the aim of the legislation she pushes—the aim is to keep executives wealthy enough to continue donating to her campaign.

Miners deserve their healthcare and pensions paid for by the millionaires and billionaires who wrongly pocketed that money in the first place, because those millionaires and billionaires deserve consequences, not rewards.

We should not be legislating to protect the thieves and exploiters.  And while Capito signed her name to a bill that would secure the pensions, her solution, of course, was shifting the costs of the pensions onto communities by scavenging reclamation funds. It was a solution that protected the wealth of those who stole the pensions in the first place, and placed the costs on taxpayers. Again.

No Moore Capito. The fight in 2020–and for a long time—is not red team versus blue team. It’s the creeping oligarchy of the millionaires and billionaires against the rest of us.


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West Virginia Working Families Endorses Paula Jean Swearengin

West Virginia Working Families Party has endorsed Paula Jean Swearengin for U.S. Senate. Swearengin is challenging anti-worker incumbent Shelley Moore Capito. Capito has a 28% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO, voting against workers nearly three-quarters of the time.

“No one who cares about families, wages, or the labor movement could support Capito, with her proven record of voting against families and unions,” said Ryan Frankenberry, Director of WV Working Families. “Paula Jean has always been about serving workers, families and communities—we’re proud to get behind her campaign,” Frankenberry said.

Swearengin’s father and grandfather were both UMWA members, so she grew up in a household with union values. “Unions are in my blood,” Swearengin said. 

That’s why, on the picket line, Swearengin has stood with WV teachers and school service personnel, with communications workers, with Tecnocap workers, and more. 

As a WV Can’t Wait pledge-signer, she’s also sworn off corporate contributions in order to put working people first—not lobbyists and billionaires.

“Paula Jean will stand up for working families: that’s why she won the West Virginia Working Families Party endorsement,” said David Graham, campaign director. “Lawmakers like Shelley Moore Capito fundamentally put themselves up for sale to the highest bidder by taking corporate donations to recite anti-community, anti-worker talking points. Paula Jean won’t sell out working families that way. It’s just not in her. She was raised better than that.”

Famously, Capito’s father was five-time felon, convicted of political corruption.

New York Times Arch Moore conviction

“Values matter to this campaign,” Graham said. 

“I’m honored to accept the endorsement of West Virginia Working Families Party,” said Swearengin. “We need people in West Virginia who’ll stand up for working folks. There aren’t enough people standing up for miners—and far too many standing up for coal lobbyists handing out cash. There aren’t enough standing up for gas and oil workers—but too many standing up for out-of-state frack executives and shareholders writing big checks to campaigns. There aren’t enough people standing up for worker safety—and way too many lining up to fill their pockets from our pain and loss. We are ready to unite our fight.”

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Bernie Endorses PJS

Bernie Sanders Endorses Paula Jean Swearengin for Senate

“I need Paula Jean in the Senate with me, and I hope the people of West Virginia will support her,” said Bernie Sanders in a statement. Sanders, who won every county in West Virginia in the 2016 West Virginia presidential primary, is endorsing Paula Jean Swearengin in her bid to win a seat in the US Senate. Bernie Endorses PJS “I’m honored that our campaign has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders,” said Paula Jean Swearengin. “In West Virginia, far too many of us don’t have any share in America’s prosperity, no matter how hard we work. And it’s not just that we don’t have broadband or cell service. A lot of us don’t have even the most basic infrastructure like maintained roads, clean running water or functioning sewer.” Like Sanders, Paula Jean supports Medicare for All and a living wage. “We believe that every state in this country should offer hardworking folks the opportunity to build a good life for themselves,“ Paula Jean explained. “But here in West Virginia, we’ve been treated as a sacrifice zone, as collateral damage, for far too long while our wealth is shipped out of our communities.” Sanders explained, “It’s hard to overestimate the power of Paula Jean becoming West Virginia’s next senator. If a strong progressive like her represented a state with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, it would be a significant moment in our fight to transform our country so it works for all of us. Particularly in West Virginia, “sacrifice” and “corrupt politicians” is a familiar theme: “Millionaires and billionaires are not going to help middle class and working class West Virginians. WE have to help us. This is up to us. That’s why I’m running for Senate, why I’m rejecting corporate PAC money, why I’m a part of West Virginia Can’t Wait–and why I’m so honored to be endorsed by Bernie Sanders.“ Paula Jean believes that our government shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. We need a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. “Paula Jean will be a senator who stands up to the political and economic establishment, and puts the working class first. I’m proud to endorse her grassroots campaign,” Sanders said. “I choose the side of working people, not millionaires,” said Paula Jean. “I choose the side of miners, not coal barons. Let’s unite our fight.”
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Paula Jean’s statement regarding bounties on American troops

“While Mitch McConnell and his best buddy Shelley Moore Capito are worried about whether it’s politically convenient to discuss who’s been offering bounties to Afghan militants for the lives of our troops—and while their squabbling focuses on whether the president was briefed about the bounties before he signed the Feb 29 deal with the Taliban—the most important thing is being forgotten here: the safety of our troops. 

“There has been no response, there have been no sanctions, there is no action being taken to protect the troops risking their lives for this country.

“We must take immediate action to demand a halt the bounty program, and to enact strong sanctions against the perpetrators. 

“Y’all want to argue… argue later. First we protect our troops. And if congress won’t do that, let’s vote to bring an end to the do-nothing congress and elect new leaders—leaders with values that reflect the values of the American people.”

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Paula Jean wins senate nomination

Four Women Sweep WV’s Democratic Congressional Primaries

In West Virginia, it’s the Year of the Woman: Four anti-corruption women just swept every single congressional primary in West Virginia. This is a first in the state’s history. 

Paula Jean Swearengin is the Democratic nominee for US Senate. Natalie Cline is the congressional nominee for District 1. Cathy Kunkel is the congressional nominee for District 2. And Hilary Turner is the congressional nominee for District 3. 

Paula Jean wins senate nomination

“Not only that, every single one of us won our races without taking a dime of corporate PAC money. We are 100% people-funded,“ said Paula Jean. 

Also people-funded: 

  • Danielle Walker, a state delegate and black woman who won more primary votes than any other delegate candidate in the state. 
  • Rosemary Ketchum, elected to Wheeling city council, and WV’s first elected trans woman, one of only 27 trans elected officials in the country. 
  • And Tina Russell, poised to become Mercer County’s first black woman ever elected, having won more votes in the primary than every opponent but one. 

All are a part of the WV Can’t Wait movement, with volunteer teams in every county working to elect candidates like Paula Jean who signed the movement’s pledge to reject corporate PAC money. The movement includes Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and unaffiliated candidates. 

“We ran a smart campaign,” Paula Jean’s campaign manager David Graham explained, “and we came from behind in polling to win the primary by more than 5%.” 

Paula Jean’s primary opponents were the fiery Richard Ojeda and well-liked Richie Robb. In the general she’ll be facing Shelley Moore Capito, daughter of disgraced WV Governor Arch Moore. 

“Paula Jean, coal miner’s daughter, humble West Virginia upbringing, is up against the same money that sells miners and the rest of us out, every time,” said Communications Manager Lissa Lucas. “It’s like the plot of a movie: to protect her family, she’s facing off against the well-to-do daughter of a five-time felon who pleaded guilty to political corruption.” 

West Virginia has a long history of politicians who are “content with their roles and their profits as middlemen for the absentee owners of the state’s natural wealth,” as West Virginia historian John Alexander Williams has put it. 

“We can’t continue electing leaders whose whole goal is getting paid to do the bidding of the same corporate lobbyists who flood our mountains with drugs and death in exchange for money,” Paula Jean said. 

FEC filings show that while she’s been in the senate, Capito has taken more than $750,000 EACH from big banks, and from resource barons, PACs, and lobbyists—and shockingly, more than $135,000 from Big Pharma. West Virginia has been the state most impacted by the addiction crisis. 

“West Virginia’s fight against dirty money couldn’t be any clearer for the general election,” added Graham. “97% of Capito’s money is from PACs and large donors, and 80% comes from outside West Virginia, chiefly New York. And look, Paula Jean and the rest of us have had enough. ” 


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The Herald Dispatch Candidate Questionnaire

U.S. Senate candidate: Paula Jean Swearengin (D)

HD (Herald Dispatch) Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.

We are working with all candidates in contested races to get their questionnaires included on our website.


NAME: Paula Jean Swearengin


PARTY: Democrat


HOME CITY: Mullens

HOME COUNTY: Wyoming County

ENDORSEMENTS: Brand New Congress, Blue America, Women for Bernie, Silvers for Sanders, 90 for 90, WV for Elizabeth Warren, Down with Tyranny, Save Main Street.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I’m a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter. America was built on the backs of Appalachians. Like so many, my family paid a steep price for coal. I lost many of my family members to cancer and black lung. West Virginia’s most valuable resource is our people. We are determined, hard-working and smart. When we band together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. I’m ready to fight for my family, my neighbors and my state to deliver the prosperous, healthy future that we deserve.

Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:



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Democratic Senate Candidate Paula Jean Swearengin Picks Up Momentum



Contact Name: Media Team, Paula Jean for West Virginia – [email protected]

Web: www.paulajean.com Twitter: @paulajean2020 FB: PaulaJean2020 IG: @paulajeanwv2020

Communications and Policy Director: Kaylen Barker

Phone: 304-395-2862


Democratic Senate Candidate Paula Jean Swearengin Picks Up Momentum


COAL CITY — For its April 15, 2020, FEC reporting, 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate for West Virginia Paula Jean Swearengin’s Campaign reports a total of $224,776.68 from 9600+ individual contributions. Between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020, the Paula Jean for West Virginia Committee raised $109,134.64 from nearly 4400 individual contributions, with an average contribution of $23.43. The Committee not only received more individual, non-PAC donations than her opponents combined, but raised more in total than all challengers in the race.


“I think about the single mother who donated $5 from her minimum-wage check because she believes in a better future. I think about the supporter on disability who gives because they want a better future for their loved ones, Swearengin said. “Our volunteers and supporters believe we deserve lasting, viable work, healthcare as a human right, and sustainable economic opportunities to West Virginia.”


In line with her 2018 campaign, Swearengin has refused to accept corporate and corporate PAC donations. She’s signed the West Virginia Can’t Wait pledge along with West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Stephen Smith. Swearengin has received notable endorsements from Brand New Congress, Blue America and others.


Swearengin’s fundraising stands in stark contrast to incumbent Republican Shelley Moore Capito who is primarily funded by corporate PACs and Leadership PAC funds. Swearengin’s large number of individual donations showcase significant momentum for her small-dollar grassroots-driven campaign and her fundraising performance compared to all challengers in the race shows her viability as a candidate.


In 2018, Swearengin’s U.S. Senate race broke state records by garnering 48,594 primary votes, the highest votes against a sitting incumbent in West Virginia in 75 years. She also acquired more votes than any Republican candidate on the ballot including Patrick Morrisey.


“Our team is gearing up with hundreds of volunteers across the state. We are going to take this fight all the way to the General election and beyond, Swearengin said. “We’re tired of representatives playing politics with our lives and we’re ready for leadership that will put West Virginia first. To us, this is not about partisan politics, it’s about the future of West Virginia.


Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin is a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter who has been fighting for clean water, clean air and a diverse economy for the Appalachian community for decades. Swearengin is fighting for bold policies that diversify West Virginia’s economy including the Federal Jobs Guarantee, and the Reclaim Act that would renew abandoned coal towns and bring more jobs and small businesses to West Virginia. She supports federal funding and grants to rebuild and expand infrastructure, create state-wide broadband and entice new industry to West Virginia.

For more info on Paula Jean’s campaign, please visit paulajean.com and follow @paulajean2020 on Twitter and Facebook, and paulajeanwv2020 on Instagram.

cc: Paula Jean Swearengin Headshot

Paid for and authorized by the Paula Jean for West Virginia Committee

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Swearengin Swear Jar

The Swear Jar of Swearengin

Paula Jean Swearengin’s campaign has finally addressed the burning question being asked repeatedly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.

“To our knowledge, Paula Jean is not related to the infamous Al Swearengen of Deadwood,” said campaign manager David Graham in a statement, in response to frequent questions. “The names are not even spelled the same.”

“We’re still willing to be endorsed by HBO,” he added. “Or Ian McShane. McShane would be very cool. Can we get McShane…?”

Although, as an outspoken Appalachian woman, Paula Jean could certainly keep up with Al in terms of cussing if she wanted to, “She doesn’t want to,” said Ben Pender, Political Director.

“Nope. Yeah… no,” he added emphatically.

The campaign has a virtual Swear Jar.

Swearengin Swear Jar

We would be grateful if Deadwood fans would donate for each F word uttered throughout the run of Deadwood, which—with 2980 instances reported—would come to $29.80 at a penny each.



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Coal Miner’s Daughter Files for the Democratic Nomination for U.S. Senate

Coal Miner’s Daughter Files for the Democratic Nomination for U.S. Senate

Press Releases
January 13, 2020

Paula Jean Swearengin, building upon the strength of her 2018 upstart campaign, is launching her progressive campaign to unseat Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

Charleston, WV – Today, progressive Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin will formally file her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for United States Senate in West Virginia. Swearengin, the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, is launching her campaign on the strength of her 2018 progressive challenge to Senator Joe Manchin.

“We are tired of politicians playing games with our lives. I am running against Corporate PAC Shelley Moore Capito because it’s time ordinary West Virginias were represented by an ordinary West Virginian. We are one of the poorest states in this nation, and it’s time for a movement that will guarantee healthcare or all, end the addiction epidemic, and help build a diverse economy that will create decent-paying jobs with benefits. The people have been calling for it, and it’s time we had leadership that’s willing to listen and do something about it,” said Swearengin.

“Our campaign is fighting to give voters a real choice in this election. Unlike our current senator, I’m not a millionaire and have not spent 20 years in Washington. I know what it’s like to struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet. We’ve had enough of career politicians who put their party and donors before the working people in this state. We deserve a senator who won’t turn their back on West Virginia. Our campaign is more than a candidacy; it’s built on a movement and built by people who are ready for change,” added Swearengin.

Paula Jean Swearengin is a proud native of Mullens, West Virginia, and her coal-mining roots run deep. She is a coal miner’s daughter, granddaughter, niece and stepdaughter. In 2018, she challenged incumbent Senator Joe Manchin in the Democratic primary, drawing a stark contrast as a true progressive alternative and receiving more than 30% of the vote. A national endorser and surrogate for Bernie Sanders for president, Paula Jean Swearengin ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018 as part of a national progressive coalition, which included such stalwarts as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

That historic fight, provided in the internationally acclaimed documentary Knock Down the House, https://knockdownthehouse.com/, has helped inspire a movement leading to hundreds of progressive candidates to challenge the political establishment and run for offices across the country. Swearengin, who has resigned from her job to become a full-time Senate candidate, is running a campaign that is 100% people-powered, with no special interest, lobbyist or PAC money.

For more information, visit www.PaulaJean.com.

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