Deadline Now: Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher
Friday, March 30, 2012
Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher is better known as "Joe the Plumber." This year, he is also a Republican candidate for United States Congress, running in Ohio's 9th District against long-time Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur.
Here are Jack Lessenberry's "Final Thoughts" for this edition of Deadline Now:
If Samuel Wurzelbacher were to defeat Marcy Kaptur in this year's congressional race, it seems fair to say that it would be the upset of the century. That‘s not because of anything to do with him.
That’s because this district was drawn to be a completely safe Democratic district. Ohio is losing two seats in Congress because of nationwide population shifts. And the Republican-controlled legislature in Columbus wanted to minimize their own losses.
So they crammed as many Democrats as possible into as few districts as possible, and this is one of them. Now, that doesn’t mean that miracles can’t happen. Thirty-two years ago, this was also supposed to be a safe Democratic district.
There was a longtime incumbent named Lud Ashley who everybody figured was unbeatable. But to everyone‘s astonishment, he lost by a landslide to an unknown Republican banker.
Joe the Plumber is far better known than Ed Weber was in 1980. But there’s a part of Weber’s story Joe might want to be aware of. Weber went to Congress, but though he was a decent and honest man, did nothing to distinguish himself from other Republicans in Washington, and made no special effort to address Toledo’s needs and concerns. Two years later, he was defeated by a landslide that was a mirror image of the one that elected him.
The upset winner that time was a young woman named Marcy Kaptur, and she has been there ever since. Every two years, someone has run against her, and every time she has won.
Someday, that could change. Joe Wurzelbacher hopes it will be this year. People are dissatisfied with Congress in general. No doubt about that. But most people in the Toledo area seem to like Marcy Kaptur. Which means that if her opponent is to win, he has to do this:
He has to not only convince the voters that she should be replaced, but also to convince them that he can do a better job for them. That he can go to Washington and somehow get things done better, and help make life better for everyone in this district.
Four years ago, “Joe the Plumber” showed the nation he could hold his own in an impromptu front-lawn debate with the man who became president. But convincing them that he can do the job in Washington may be something else again.
But if that’s a tall order, he’s got a little over seven months to make the sale. It should be an interesting campaign.