Republicans want "Joe the Plumber" in Congress

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the Ohio resident who rose to prominence during the 2008 presidential cycle as "Joe the Plumber" and later served as a war correspondent, is now considering a run for Congress - and national Republicans appear to be on board.

Wurzelbacher would challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who represents Ohio's 9th congressional district, an area that includes Toledo. Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, told the Toledo Blade that there exists a "high-level interest in the national Republican Party" in a Wurzelbacher candidacy, adding: "We are encouraging Joe to run."

For Republicans, a large part of the appeal of a Wurzelbacher candidacy is his name recognition and the fundraising potential that comes with it. The everyman appeal that prompted the McCain campaign to latch onto Wurzelbacher after he confronted then-candidate Barack Obama over his tax plan at a campaign event, meanwhile, certainly won't hurt. (Mr. Obama told Wurzelbacher he wanted to "spread the wealth," a phrase that Republicans would repeatedly cite to criticize the Democratic nominee.)

Kaptur's district is heavily Democratic, but that could change after redistricting is finalized in the wake of the 2010 census. Wurzelbacher, who has been on the speaker circuit, is likely waiting to see how the district lines shake out before making a decision. 

Asked about a possible run, he told the Blade: "I think it's a very interesting idea. That's as much as I can say."

Wurzelbacher won one of nearly 400 seatson the Republican Party committee for northwest Ohio's Lucas County last May. The group only meets a few times a year to elect the county chairman and sets the party agenda.