Election 2012: Kaptur, Joe the Plumber, Stipe run to represent District 9Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the most senior woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, is facing Samuel Wurzelbacher in the race to represent District 9, a sprawling area that includes Toledo and parts of Cleveland. Libertarian Sean Stipe is also running.
Democrat Kaptur has served 15 terms in the House and was recently appointed to the House Appropriations Committee.
The Toledo native counted modernizing federal facilities across the area, including the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, as one of her major accomplishments.
The Veterans Affairs Clinic on Detroit Avenue is another accomplishment, Kaptur said.
“We have the brand-new veterans facility in Toledo, that is something we had to fight to build for many, many years and that will serve the veterans of today and tomorrow,” she said.
“We have been very, very involved in the modernizing of all military facilities in our region,” Kaptur added.
The congresswoman also introduced legislation for the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Kaptur said she has also helped veterans in other ways, like supporting projects that help soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder, helping veterans finding work and being part of a Congress that doubled assistance for veterans.
Wurzelbacher criticized this doubling, saying that there is not the correct support system in place.
Although Kaptur has been in Congress for 30 years, this is the first time her district will include parts of Cleveland. In March, Kaptur defeated U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the primaries for the recently redrawn district.
Kaptur said she has enjoyed getting to know new potential constituents.
“I have great loyalty to my home community, but I also know I have a responsibility to the new parts of the district,” she said. “It’s exciting to go into a new community and meet new people and learn what their concerns are.”
“We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world that is the most sustainable,” Kaptur said, adding that there are 10,000 artists between Toledo and Cleveland.
The district includes many industries, a now connected coast and an opportunity to unite tourism businesses.
“I’m really thinking hard about how to link these assets,” Kaptur said.
Wurzelbacher rose to fame after asking then-candidate Barack Obama about his plans for small business taxes in 2008. He then became an integral part of the Republican campaign and was dubbed “Joe the Plumber.”
He said he decided to run because he is “disgusted” by the political state, adding that it’s not just Kaptur who should take blame, but Congress as a whole.
“[Congress is] a bunch of little high school kids blaming each other,” he said.
Kaptur said of her opponent, “He is not a familiar figure in many of these communities. He will have a very high learning curve.”
She added, “My opponent does not live in the district. He’s running in the wrong district.”
Wurzelbacher, whose residence is listed in Holland with the Lucas County Board of Elections, said candidates don’t need to live where they are running.
“[Kaptur’s] playing politics and trying to throw mud. There’s no mud there. She’s just counting on people not understanding the rule,” he said.
Wurzelbacher served in the U.S. Air Force as a plumber from 1992-96. He was a skill-level five plumber in the Air Force, but was told he’d need to start training from the ground up to be a civilian plumber. Because of his experience, he supports HR 4115, which requires states to take military training into consideration for certain jobs.
Tax reform is another major tenet of Wurzelbacher’s platform — and also one of Stipe’s.
Stipe, a Lorain resident, owns Stipe Painting and Contracting.
“I get to see firsthand how all the taxes that are supposedly geared to getting more money out of the rich affect someone like me,” he said.
Stipe advocated eliminating the Internal Revenue Service and imposing the Fair Tax, a national sales tax that is based on consumption. He said he was inspired to run because of Kaptur’s stances.
“The reason I’m running is I disagree with about 70 percent of her votes,” he said. “She’s been in there for 30 years. She has a lot to account for.”
Wurzelbacher said he does not have a specific plan like the Fair Tax in mind, but that it should be left up to the citizens. He said he wants to encourage citizens to get involved.
“It really is going to be a great effort because Congress doesn’t want to do it,” Wurzelbacher said. “It’s going to be the American people that are going to have to push that issue and I want to be one of the people that helps make that happen.”
Regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency should also be lessened, Wurzelbacher said, adding that he supports fracking, drilling and using more coal.
“It seems like the (EPA) make a lot of decisions and they never understand the consequences of the rules they pass,” he said.
He added that states should take responsibility when it comes to ensuring the environment isn’t harmed.
“We have a lot of Erin Brockovichs, if you will, that would make sure that companies aren’t just pumping sludge in the rivers,” Wurzelbacher said.
Both Kaptur and Stipe called Wurzelbacher out on a comment he made in Arizona regarding immigration: “Put troops on the border and start shooting.”
When asked about the statement, he said, “Absolutely, you put up a fence and shoot those narco-drug terrorists.”
Wurzelbacher added, however, “To suggest that I want to kill women and children coming in our country is disgusting.”
He said building a fence and putting armed guards on the other side would cut back on “drug lords” entering the United States, adding that administrations all the way back to Ronald Reagan’s have failed to accomplish this.
Kaptur called Wurzelbacher’s Arizona comment “flabbergasting.”
“I think we have too much shooting at the border. I think we have to protect our border, but the answer is not to become uncivil. It’s to make sure we have adequate surveillance and adequate force at that border,” she said.
Much of the problem comes from quality of life issues, Kaptur said.
“All along that region, the border becomes the obstacle, but the real problem is the lack of an ability for people to eke out a living on the Mexican border,” she said.
Both Stipe and Kaptur also criticized Wurzelbacher for not attending certain debates and events.
“He’s kind of on his neoconservative tour, helping to raise money for other people, but he’s not doing anything to help the 9th District,” Stipe said.
“I have never in my career gone to an appearance when my opponent wasn’t there,” Kaptur said.
Wurzelbacher did not attend a debate in Cleveland earlier in October, but said he was not invited. Instead of attending these events, Wurzelbacher said he has been knocking on doors and talking to different people.
“I’m happy where we’re at right now. I’m getting out and talking to the people, which is one of the biggest things I’ve accomplished,” he said.