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'Joe the Plumber' launching congressional bid

By John Seewer

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 2:16 p.m. MDT

TOLEDO, Ohio — Joe the Plumber is launching his bid for Congress in Ohio.

Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, who became a household name after questioning Barack Obama about his economic policies during the 2008 presidential campaign, will make his announcement Tuesday night, a county Republican official told The Associated Press.

Wurzelbacher already filed the paperwork to run as a Republican in Ohio's 9th U.S. House district, and he has set up a website to raise money.

The seat is now held by Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving Democratic woman in the House. She's expected to face a primary challenge from Rep. Dennis Kucinich after Ohio's redrawn congressional map combined their two districts into one that appears heavily tilted toward Democrats.

Wurzelbacher has become an icon for many anti-establishment conservatives and has traveled the country speaking at tea party rallies and conservative gatherings.

Republicans in northern Ohio recruited him to run and think he'll be able to bring in enough money to make a serious challenge.

"When you're relevant and have friends in high places, you have the ability to raise big sums of money," said Lucas County GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook.

He'll appeal to people who are tired of politics as usual, Stainbrook said. "He's tapped into this sentiment that things in Washington are screwed up," Stainbrook said

Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost, who had announced he would seek the GOP nomination, dropped out last week, clearing the way for Wurzelbacher.

Wurzelbacher, 37, went from toiling as a plumber in suburban Toledo three years ago to media sensation in a matter of days.

After questioning candidate Obama about his economic policies, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain repeatedly cited "Joe the plumber" in a presidential debate. Wurzelbacher campaigned with McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, but he criticized McCain in his book and said he did not want him as the GOP presidential nominee.

Since then, he's written a book, worked with a veterans' organization that provides outdoor programs for wounded soldiers and traveled the country speaking at tea party rallies and conservative gatherings.

He has shown a disdain for politicians — both Democrat and Republican.

"Being a politician is as good as being a weatherman," Wurzelbacher said at a tea party rally last year in Nevada. "You don't have to be right, you don't have to do your job well, but you'll still have a job."

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