The whistleblowing West Virginia state Senate candidate who survived a brutal beating said Monday that it will take "more than getting clobbered to silence me."
"I've dealt with the Taliban and al Qaeda," Richard Ojeda, a 24-year Army veteran, told NBC News from his hospital bed. "I'm not scared of some ignorant, uneducated, a-------."
The tough talk from the 45-year-old Democrat came a day after he was allegedly ambushed by a childhood friend named Jonathan Stuart Porter, whose uncle — former Logan County Circuit Clerk Alvis Porter — recently pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks to a local coal mine operator.
Ojeda said he believes the beating was "politically motivated."
"Ever since I've come home, I've been bringing forth issues and have angered quite a few people," he said. "These people despise me because I call them out on their garbage."
Porter, 41, was nabbed after the Sunday beating — and after allegedly trying to run Ojeda over with his pickup truck, police said. But the criminal complaint does not spell out a motive for the alleged attack.
Ojeda said he doesn't believe Porter, who has known since he was 7, came up with the idea to attack him two days before Tuesday's primary.
"I really believe there's more to this," he said. "His uncle was indicted for the Mount Laurel kickback scheme. I am sure there is a connection."
Ojeda was at a barbeque in the mountains some 60 miles southwest of Charleston, West Virginia when Porter asked him to place a bumper sticker on the back of his Toyota Tacoma, police said.
"Then he lures me to the front of the truck where nobody can see us," he said.
Witnesses told investigators "Porter struck Ojeda in the back of the head while he was bent over in front of Porter's truck, knocking Ojeda unconscious," the criminal complaint states. "Porter continued to strike the victim in the face while he laid (sic) on the ground."
Porter then rammed two ATVs as he made his getaway, the complaint states. He turned himself in peacefully after hiding out in the mountains for six hours.
Ojeda said he has no memory of the actual beating and that witnesses told him Porter used brass knuckles to work him over. There is no mention of brass knuckles in the criminal complaint, charging Porter with malicious assault, malicious attempted assault and felony destruction of property.