Birth Name: Richard Neece Ojeda II
Place of Birth: Olmsted, Minnesota, United States
Date of Birth: September 25, 1970
Ethnicity: Italian (37.5%), Mexican (25%), Romanian (12.5%), small amounts of English and German
Richard Ojeda is an American politician and U.S. Army officer. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a Member of the West Virginia Senate, from December 1, 2016 to January 14, 2019.
He was a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2020.
Richard is the son of Florena (Pansera) and Richard N. Ojeda. He is married to Kelly, with whom he has two children.
Richard’s paternal grandfather was Senon H. “Sam” Ojeda (the son of Martin Ojeda and Christina Hernandez). Senon was a Mexican emigrant from Jalisco, who was undocumented.
Richard’s paternal grandmother was Ocie Lucina Neece (the daughter of Joseph Campbell “Joe” Neece and Rosina Ann/Anne/Rosana Rasnake/Rasnick). Ocie was born in Virginia, and had English and German ancestry. Joseph was the son of James Henry Neece and Sarah A. Taylor. Rosina was the daughter of Elijah Rasnake/Rasnick and Phoebe Lusintha Smith.
Richard’s maternal grandfather was Carmelo/Carmello Pansera, Sr. (the son of Santo Panzera/Pansera and Flora Hayla/Haylo). Carmello was born in West Virginia. Santo was born in Motta San Giovanni, Reggio Calabria, Calabria, Italy, the son of Carmelo Panzera and Maria Calabrò. Flora was born in Potău, Satu Mare, Romania.
Richard’s maternal grandmother was Angelina Mary/Maria Fortuna (the daughter of Antonio “Toney”/”Tony” Fortuna and Nickolena Guiseppa Josephine Moribito/Morabito). Angelina’s parents were Italian, from Motta San Giovanni, Reggio Calabria. Antonio was the son of Carmelo Mill Fortina/Fortuna and Angelina Collea. Nickolena was the daughter of Rocco Morabito and Rosa.
Richard is one of several people of Hispanic ancestry to have mounted a major campaign for President of the United States. The others were/are:
*Ben Fernandez (who sought the 1980, 1984, and 1988 Republican nominations; Fernandez’s parents were Mexican)
*Bill Richardson (who sought the 2008 Democratic nomination; three of Richardson’s grandparents were Hispanic)
*Ted Cruz (2016; Republican; won 11 contests; Cruz’s father is Cuban)
*Marco Rubio (2016; Republican; won 3 contests; Rubio’s parents are Cuban)
*Julián Castro (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Castro is of Mexican descent)
*Francis Suarez (who sought the 2024 Republican nomination; Suarez is of Cuban descent)
Three people of significant Italian heritage have won a caucus, primary, and/or nominating ballot for a major American party’s Presidential nomination. The three are:
*Al Smith (who was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 1928, and was also a candidate for the 1920, 1924, and 1932 Democratic nominations for President: in 1928, he won 12 contests; in 1932, he won 4 contests; Smith’s paternal grandfather was Italian)
*Michael DiSalle (1960; Democratic; won 1 state, Ohio)
*Rick Santorum (Republican; ran in 2012 and 2016: in 2012, he won 11 contests; Santorum is of three quarters Italian descent)
As stated, Ted Cruz, whose maternal great-grandfather was also Italian, won 11 contests in the 2016 Republican Party primaries.
Other people of significant Italian heritage who are mounting or have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*John A. Volpe (who sought the 1968 Republican nomination)
*James Traficant (who sought the 1988 Democratic nomination; Traficant’s father was of Italian descent)
*Rudy Giuliani (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Tom Tancredo (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*George Pataki (who sought the 2016 Republican nomination; Pataki’s maternal grandfather was Italian)
*Chris Christie (who sought the 2016 Republican nomination, and is seeking the 2024 Republican nomination; Christie’s mother was of Italian descent)
*Tim Ryan (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Ryan’s mother is of Italian descent)
*Bill de Blasio (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; de Blasio’s mother was of Italian descent)
*Ron DeSantis (who is seeking the 2024 Republican nomination)
Geraldine Ferraro, who was of Italian descent, was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1984.
Sources: Genealogies of Richard’s paternal grandparents, Senon H. “Sam” Ojeda and Ocie Lucina Neece – https://www.findagrave.com
Marriage record of Richard’s paternal grandparents, Senon H. “Sam” Ojeda and Ocie Lucina Neece – https://www.familysearch.org