Samuel Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber," speaks to reporters… (Madalyn Ruggiero / Associated…)
“Joe the Plumber” made it official Tuesday. He’s running for Congress.
Samuel Wurzelbacher became famous in 2008 after challenging Barack Obama on his economic policies. Now the self-identified Regular Joe wants to represent economically distressed northern Ohio in the House — and he’s bringing a class-based message.
“Americans deserve all kinds of people representing them,” Wurzelbacher said, according to the Associated Press, at an event at Toledo’s famous Tony Packo's restaurant, best known for its Hungarian-style hot dogs. “Not just an elite ruling class.” (Watch video below.)
Wurzelbacher was adopted as sort of a mascot by the John McCain campaign late in the presidential race — and later became a touring celebrity, often speaking at tea party rallies.
He sounded very much like an anti-establishment candidate in the tea party mold Tuesday, decrying not only what he called onerous federal regulation on businesses, but also free-trade agreements, deals that are unpopular in blue-collar states like Ohio.
“I’m registered as a Republican. I’ll run as a Republican. But by god that doesn’t encompass who I am,” he said.
Ohio’s unemployment rate sits at 9.3% but in the northwest Ohio region where Wurzelbacher lives, it’s hovered above 10% for much of the year.
Wurzelbacher is seeking the 9th District seat that has been held by Democrat Marcy Kaptur since 1983. Because of redistricting, Kaptur will likely face Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the primary, as the district has been extended eastward toward Cleveland.
“When someone loses their job here in the 9th District, it’s a bad statistic for the politicians,” said Wurzelbacher, 37. “When you and I lose our job, it hurts. It means our kids can’t eat. It means we can’t make our house payments.”
He said on his block alone in Holland, Ohio, four families have “walked away” from their houses after being unable to meet their mortgage payments. “I’m there. I know how it is,” he said. “Politicians in general are not there. They don’t get it.”
He blasted Congress for resorting to patchwork solutions to fix the nation’s deep economic woes. If elected to the House, he said, he wouldn’t support those.
“I’m not the kind of plumber who uses duct tape,” he said.