Jimmy “Bo” Copley, the laid-off West Virginia coal miner who famously confronted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign after her comment about putting coal miners “out of business,” has launched a campaign to become a U.S. Senator. He’ll be running as a Republican, with hopes of beating incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, in 2018.
The 40-year-old Copley is married to his wife Lauren Copley. They have three young children – Charlotte, Merritt and Elliott.
Here’s what you need to know about Copley and his famous encounter with Clinton.
1. Copley & His Wife Decided to Run for Senate After He Received a Letter From a Man in Arizona
Copley announced his plans to run for U.S. Senate in a video posted on his Facebook page. Appearing alongside his wife, Lauren, the two said they spent months praying and “seeking God’s will for our future, for our family, and looking for a direction that He may be moving us in.” He said that they felt they received the “confirmation from God” that running for Senate is the direction Copley should go.
Copley frequently talked about “us” running for Senate instead of just himself. He said that they believe that God isn’t going to ask him to do anything without Lauren’s full support.
He said that one day, they knelt to pray and asked God about running for Senate. It was something they joked about at first and thought it was “way above anything we could have expected.” But the next day, they heard about a letter sent to Lauren’s old studio address. It was a letter from a man in Arizona who praised him and thought he should run for office in West Virginia. They took this as God’s answer to their prayers and he should run for Senate.
2. Copley Describes Himself as the ‘Exact Opposite’ of Joe Manchin
In an interview with West Virginia Metro News, Copley said he is the “exact opposite” of Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin has been criticized by members of his own party for often voting with Republicans. He voted to confirm controversial Trump cabinet picks like Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson and Scott Pruitt.
Copley told the Metro News that seeing Manchin support Clinton during the 2016 campaign also influenced his decision to run for office.
“I want my kids to be able to grow up here and say ‘I want to make a living, but I don’t want to work in a coal mine.’ Well, guess what? You have options,” he told the Metro News. “I strongly feel like I may be able to make a connection somewhere where we can help bring in other kind of economic opportunities.”
Copley also calls the other possible Republican candidates for the Senate seat “career politicians.” Congressman Evan Jenkins and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey are expected to run for the GOP nomination.
“I think my story resonates with the people in this state because I think most people in this state have led the same types of things in the last couple of years,” Copley told the Metro News. “You walk a mile in someone else’s shoes — you tend to fight for that person a little harder than what you might have in the past and I think I wear the same shoes as a lot of people.”
3. Copley Gave Hillary Clinton a Picture of His Kids & Confronted Her in Person
Even though West Virginia hadn’t voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since 1996, Clinton still visited the state in May 2016. During a meeting in Williamson, West Virginia, Copley met Clinton and even sat across from her at a table. He gave her a picture of his children and wondered how she could make a comment like that and then “come in here and tell us how you’re going to be our friend.”
“Those people out there don’t see you as a friend,” Copley added, referring to the protests outside the meeting.
What I said was totally out of context from what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time,” Clinton told Copley, notes NBC News. “What I was saying is that the way things are going now, we will continue to lose jobs. That’s what I meant to say.”
Clinton said it was a “misstatement,” and Copley accepted Clinton’s apology. However, at that point, he still hadn’t made up his mind to vote for Clinton or Trump.
“I’m not into political games. I’m not worried about the primary,” Copley told NBC News. “I want to hear the plans you have in store for us if you do get elected.”
Copley’s meeting with Clinton thrust him into the national spotlight, like 2008’s Joe The Plumber. In October 2016, he was even called to testify before a Senate committee the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on West Virginia.
4. He Praised Donald Trump’s Executive Order That Rolled Back Obama Environmental Protections
Copley, who voted for President Donald Trump, told Yahoo News in March 2017 that he thought Trump’s “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” was a “good start” towards Trump fulfilling his promise to get coal miners back to work.
“I don’t know the far-reaching scope on everything that it entails but I do think that a lot of people here do view it as a way for him to try to hold up to his end of his promises that he made on the campaign trail,” Copley told Yahoo News.
Copley further explained that many in the coal industry believed that President Barack Obama’s environmental protection regulations unfairly targeted them.
“For us it would have been better to try to bring other energies in a little at a time,” Copley told the website. “We just felt like to come in and completely try to stomp out coal made us feel like we were completely targeted instead of trying to let these other energies become more viable, actually more competitive.”
The executive order called on the Secretary of the Interior to “amend or withdraw” the January 2016 order on a moratorium for federal land coal leasing. “The Secretary shall commence Federal coal leasing activities consistent with all applicable laws and regulations,” the executive order reads.
5. Copley Still Doesn’t Have a New Job
Copley is still out of work. According to Lifezette, he worked as a coal miner for 11 years before he was laid-off in September 2015. His wife works as a photographer and runs her own business.
Copley told Lifezette that his relatives all want him to run for office. However, he still wouldn’t commit to it unless God gave him the go-ahead.
“My aunt texted me at the Franklin Graham event [the West Virginia Decision America tour stop] after Graham said Christians need to run for office. She said to me, ‘You need to run,’” Copley told Lifezette in November 2016. “People have said, ‘You should run for school board,’ but I don’t want to put God in a box.”
“I’m hopeful about the future,” Copley also told the site. “I think a lot of our leaders now are looking for positions of stature and power — but they are supposed to be elected servants. A lot of our leaders have lost sight of that — that they are there to serve.”
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