Super Tuesday 2012: 'Joe the Plumber' wins GOP congressional primary

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Friday, March 9, 2012

On Super Tuesday, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, known more commonly as 'Joe the Plumber', won the U.S. Republican Party primary for Ohio's 9th congressional district, which represents Toledo. He defeated real estate agent Steve Kraus, 51 percent to 48 percent, and will now face incumbent Democratic Representative Marcy Kaptur, who has held the seat since 1983.

'Joe the Plumber' speaks in 2008.
Image: Rona Proudfoot.

Wurzelbacher received notice during the 2008 presidential election, when he asked a question about taxes to future president Barack Obama. Obama, who at the time was the Democratic Party presidential nominee, famously responded, "when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." After this, Republican presidential nominee John McCain used Wurzelbacher as a representation of the average American worker, and attacked Obama's response as socialist.

Cquote1.svg I'm not working for the Republican Party or Republicans, I'm working for the American people, and that includes all of us. Cquote2.svg

—'Joe the Plumber'

Following the exchange, students from the University of Massachusetts tried to draft Wurzelbacher to run against Kaptur in the 2010 congressional race, calling on him to "Plunge the crap out of Washington." He initially expressed interest, but at that time did not run. In 2011, though, he announced his candidacy for 2012.

In the Republican primary, Wurzelbacher out-raised his opponent $60,000 to $10,000 and benefited from the endorsement of former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Wurzelbacher said of partisanship, "Democrat, Republican...it's something that the media uses to try to divide us as Americans...I'm not working for the Republican Party or Republicans, I'm working for the American people, and that includes all of us."

In the Democratic primary, Kaptur defeated Representative Dennis Kucinich, who challenged her after his district was redrawn. Kaptur argues that Wurzelbacher is "going to have his own issues dealing with the electorate as he moves forward...I think the nature of the District is quite different than his value set."

Wurzelbacher concedes that he lives in a largely Democratic and pro-Union community, but says the people are "all really good friends of mine...we agree on a lot of things, and ultimately what it comes down to [is] we want jobs, we want security, we want stability."


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