‘Joe the Plumber’ prepares to take on KapturWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel Wurzelbacher’s first exchange with Rep. Marcy Kaptur happened when he was 17 years old, during an ROTC function for the representative.
The then-Springfield High School student cornered Kaptur and gave her a piece of his mind for voting for a bill that funded Planned Parenthood, a decision with which he disagreed.
More than 20 years later, Wurzelbacher has a far bigger audience than his mortified superior, who cut that conversation short. And, now known as “Joe the Plumber,” he is determined restart that conversation and carry it along the narrow corridor that wraps around Lake Erie to make Ohio’s 9th Congressional District.
He’s talking about jobs and taxes. And he’s talking about why Kaptur’s decades in office have yielded, in his opinion, negative results.
“[She’s] bringing home the bacon and the pork, that only goes to certain individuals and groups,” Wurzelbacher said in a March 7 interview with Toledo Free Press.
Bloated bureaucracy, the federal deficit and the inability to balance budgets are all elements within the federal government that plague average citizens, Wurzelbacher said. He blamed both Democrats and Republicans.
“[Kaptur] likes to tout experience and wisdom; I don’t see that as being a benefit to the American people,” he said. “Look how much money they have wasted. She’s been in there while all this has been in place.”
One of Wurzelbacher’s priorities includes cutting back on “waste” by scrutinizing the budget line by line and eliminating certain departments. The federal Environmental Protection Agency would be one of the first on his personal chopping block. He disagrees with a number of programs that the agency funds, particularly citing a grant that the EPA awarded to a dance troupe to educate children about pollution.
“It’s not that I don’t want clean air and clean water but the bureaucracy has gotten in the way of getting things done,” he said.
Adhering to the pursuit of stronger state sovereignty, he said each state should regulate its own environment, independent of any federal agency. Breaking down regulations and changing the tax code are his two other priorities. He supports former presidential candidate Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan, which urges the government to dump the present tax code and instate a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent corporate income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.
Wurzelbacher’s platforms were similar to his Republican opponent Steve Kraus’, who trailed him by three percent. Wurzelbacher’s campaign reportedly outspent Kraus 6-to-1.
“I expected to do well. I expected to win, but I wasn’t surprised at the results,” Kraus told Toledo Free Press on March 7. “It was the most exciting race out there. I wasn’t the highlight, but I almost upset the apple cart.”
Wurzelbacher said his national endorsements and near-celebrity status will help him against Kaptur.
He said the perception that he is anti-union is a falsehood. Of Senate Bill 5, which voters repealed and would have restricted union bargaining rights, he said, “I thought it was a huge step in the wrong direction.”
Of the thousands of homes he’s already visited, he said he spends up to 30 minutes chatting with each resident if they have the time. This includes Democrats and independents. By his calculations, about 60 percent of the Democrats he visited said they’d vote for him.
Just as he has for months, Wurzelbacher will continue to spend two days a week knocking on doors on the Cleveland side of the district, two days in the middle and two days in Toledo. For long car rides, he takes Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams Jr. albums along for the drive.
Door-to-door campaigning means deconstructing the image that the media created for him as “Joe the Plumber.”
“Some things are as simple as, ‘Your name’s really Joe?’ You really were a plumber?” he said. “Yes, in the United States Air Force I plumbed all over the world.”