Holy Toledo! Joe the Plumber's Longshot House Bid

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TOLEDO, Ohio -- He's known around America as Joe the Plumber, after coming on the scene in 2008 and infamously confronting then-candidate Barack Obama about his economic policies.

Now, four years later Samuel Wurzelbacher is running for Congress -- but it's an uphill climb.

Wurzelbacher is just an ordinary guy who doesn't have time for political correctness or phony politicians. That's what makes him an unlikely candidate for Congress in Toledo.

"I see the word politician as being probably the worst things you can call me. I'm not a politician nor will I ever be one," Wurzelbacher said, describing himself.

From Plumber to Activist

Wurzelbacher goes by his middle name, Joe. In 2008, when he was in the plumbing business, he questioned whether Obama's economic policies would really lead to upward mobility.

Then came Obama's response, heard around the country.

"I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody," Obama told Wurzelbacher on the campaign trail.

Since then, "Joe the Plumber" has been part of the conservative world, making the rounds as an activist to promote a constitutional conservative approach to governing.

He's been explaining America's fiscal crisis to his friends using plumbing analogies.

"If you had an exhaust leak coming up through your floor boards, would you sit there and just duct tape the holes and make sure all the crevasses are done and keep duct taping it? Or would you go fix the leak?" Wurzelbacher recalled asking a friend.

"And he said, 'Well, Joe I'd go fix the leak,'" he continued. "I said that's what I want to bring to Washington. I want to fix the problem. Right now these politicians address the symptoms over and over and over again, but they actually never get down to the key problem."

Joe the Plumber has set up his campaign headquarters in Toledo, a working class neighborhood with lots of Democrats. He's out to actually change hearts and minds in the neighborhood.

'Joe the Christian'

His own heart and mind were changed when he became "Joe the Bible believing Christian."

"Everything that we need in life, everything we need to really live a great life is in the Bible," he said.

Wurzelbacher gave his life to Christ after his youth pastor invited him to a restaurant and told him to bring his science book, a subject he loves.

"He put the Bible on one side and I put the science book on this side and he said, 'Read the cover,'" he recalled. "I don't remember if it was my biology or chemistry book, but I do remember this: Revision 7. And he said, 'Look at the Bible. What does it say? Holy Bible.'"

"He said 'Do you see any revisions on it Joe?' I said 'no' and he said the reason why is because this is God's word," he continued. "It was right the day it was penned, as it is now, as it will be in 100 years or one thousand years. Man's always looking for an answer. That's why it's always revised."

"It hit me like a ton of bricks right then and there, and I accepted Jesus Christ there at Frisch's Big Boy. It was pretty incredible," he said.

Beating the Odds

What will be incredible is if Joe the Plumber can win this race. His opponent is Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a 14-term Democratic congresswoman and a powerful player in the House of Representatives. Kapture is the longest serving woman there and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

She told CBN News her seniority trumps anything Joe the Plumber has to offer.

"Frankly, when you get to Congress I don't think they listen to you here for the first 10 years," she said. "In an institution of 535 people it takes awhile to gain footing."

Joe the Plumber has national name recognition and has been steadily raising money, but not as much as Kaptur. Kaptur also has solid roots in the district.

"It's a very very tough lift," GOPAC Chairman Frank Donatelli said. "Marcy Kaptur has been in Congress for 30 years and so she's very well entrenched in that district. But Joe the Plumber is working very, very hard. He's getting out, meeting people, raising money."

So could the long-serving Kaptur get swept up and out of office during this period of anti-incumbency?

"No, because I return home every weekend," she told CBN News when asked if she was concerned about that. "Ohio is my home. It always has been. I maintain my friendships. My family is there."

Critics say beating Kapture is a long shot. But the criticism does not appear to faze Wurzelbacher.

"If you want an honest person representing you, you'll get off that bandwagon and jump on mine," he said.

The voters in his district will have the last say on that.

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent

David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.