In what may be the clearest sign yet that the Republican Party has gone completely off the rails, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher — better known as “Joe the Plumber” — is running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District. Wurzelbacher formed a congressional campaign committee and filed a statement of candidacy declaring his intention to challenge incumbent Democrat Marcia Kaptur for the seat on Friday.
He rose to prominence late in the 2008 Presidential campaign, when he confronted Barack Obama over his tax plan at a campaign stop. John McCain subsequently turned Joe the Plumber into a meme of sorts, using his name as a symbol for the collective struggles of all working class Americans and making several joint appearances with him. Wurzelbacher would eventually fade from the spotlight as McCain’s campaign limped to the finish line.
Wurzelbacher’s intention to run for Congress comes as a surprise, as he has little to no experience that would qualify him for such a job. The natural reaction to the news would be to doubt whether a plumber should be in charge of writing the nation’s laws, but then again Wurzelbacher isn’t even a licensed plumber. Furthermore, his famous debate over whether or not he would pay more taxes under an Obama presidency turned out to be completely irrelevant given that Wurzelbacher was only making around $40,000 a year at the time (far less than the $250,000 number that he presented to Obama.)
Since becoming a minor celebrity in 2008, Wurzelbacher has worked as a motivational speaker and occasionally as a political commentator, where he took the curious position that journalists should not be allowed to cover wars. Even for the Republican Party, Joe the Plumber is on the fringe.
And is there any clearer sign of how powerful the right wing fringe has become in the Republican Party than the fact that Samuel Wurzelbacher went from an unofficial plumber to an official congressional candidate in just 3 years? Wurzelbacher’s only qualifications for the job appear to be a talent for self-promotion and a willingness to go on TV and describe anything that the White House does as “Socialist.” Depressingly enough, that may make him a perfect fit for today’s Republican Party.