Richard Ojeda was doing what any state Senate candidate would be doing just days before his primary election: Attending a cookout.
It was there that the West Virginia Democrat was brutally beaten Sunday by a man wearing brass knuckles, according to authorities.
Jonathan Porter, 41, was arrested Sunday and charged with malicious assault in the Logan County attack, West Virginia State Police spokesman M. T. Baylous told The Washington Post. Jail records do not list attorney information for Porter.
Senior Trooper J.E. Garren told the Associated Press that Porter attacked Ojeda after asking the candidate to put a bumper sticker on Porter's truck. Garren said that police still don't know the motivation.
But Ojeda said he thinks the attack was political in nature. "This was premeditated, and there was a reason the guy did this," Ojeda said on his personal Facebook page.
Ojeda suffered multiple fractures to his head and face and was transported to a hospital in Charleston, according to a message posted on Ojeda's campaign page.
"Though this attack seems to be politically motivated, Richard is as tough as woodpecker lips, as he often says and he will pull through this," it reads.
Ojeda wanted to return home in time for Tuesday's primary election and planned to delay surgery until later this week.
An update on his campaign page Monday night noted:
"He is resting this evening, but will have to spend another night in the hospital. Continue to keep him in your prayers. He wanted to be pounding the pavement and reminding everyone to go out and vote. Let's hope that he is feeling better and will be able to do just that tomorrow."
But early Tuesday morning, Ojeda posted an update on his own Facebook page, writing:
"All....still in the hospital. They just informed me that they are taking me to surgery to fix my face (if that's possible). I thank everyone for your support. Today is Election Day! Vote! Remember that people have gave their lives so you can have that voice."
Ojeda, who has known Porter since childhood, told NBC News that the last thing he remembered was being asked for a bumper sticker. "When I woke up, my head was on a tree stump covered in blood," he said. "Everyone was looking at me."
Citing what he described as the intense poverty, corruption and nepotism that plagues the region — and his campaign for transparency and good government — Ojeda said: "The moment you start asking questions, you become public enemy number one."
Ojeda wrote on Facebook: "If you thought this would shut me up you are mistaken. I am now even more determined to continue on my path."
Garren said others attending the cookout tried to stop Porter, who rammed their vehicles and escaped.
Ojeda's primary opponent, incumbent state Sen. Ark Kirkendoll (D), said in a statement that he wished Ojeda "a speedy recovery," the State Journal reported. "I do not now, nor have I ever, condoned violence," Kirkendoll said. "It has no place in our political campaigns or in our communities."
Ojeda, a military veteran, wrote that he has "dealt with the Taliban and Al Qaeda."
"I have been threatened before," he wrote on Facebook, "but I never really knew it would come to this."
This post has been updated.