"Joe the Plumber" to face Rep. Kaptur in Ohio race
Samuel Wurzelbacher, who became known as "Joe the Plumber" during the 2008 presidential campaign, launched his first foray into professional politics in a newly redesigned district void of any Republican incumbent. The new northeastern Ohio district, which now spans from Cleveland to Toledo, is heavily Democratic and poses a challenge for the vocal and outspoken figure of the right.
Wurzelbacher ascended into the limelight in 2008 after he was videotaped asking then-candidate Barack Obama a question about potential taxes imposed on him for opening a small plumbing business. Then-Senator Obama's response included a statement he wanted to "spread the wealth," which became a lightning rod for the right, and Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin began calling Wurzelbacher "Joe the Plumber" as a symbol of Republican opposition to Obama's economic policies.
In his first race for elected office, Wurzelbacher had more money and big-name supporters, including former presidential candidate Herman Cain, than his challenger. Despite the advantage, he narrowly beat real estate agent Steve Kraus.
He will face Kaptur, the 15-term congresswoman who is among the longest-serving members in the House, who handily beat liberal icon Dennis Kucinich in Tuesday's primary. Ohio's redistricting plan put the two incumbents up against each other in what became a bitter and personal race.
Kaptur's seniority translates to power in Congress. She is next in line to be the top Democrat of the influential House Appropriations committee, which holds the federal government's purse strings, after top Democrat Norm Dicks of Washington announced his retirement.
In his election night victory party, Wurzelbacher promised a clean campaign.
"Bottom line, I won't run a character assassination type campaign. As an American I am tired and disgusted of seeing those kinds of ads going on radio or TV and I won't practice in it. If anyone comes out on my side and tries to practice it, I will denounce it. I am going to run on facts."
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