- Associated Press - Monday, October 10, 2011

TOLEDO, Ohio — Joe the Plumber is plunging into politics.

The Ohio man who became a household name after questioning then-candidate Barack Obama about his economic policies during the 2008 campaign has filed paperwork to run for Congress.

Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher’s statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission last week says he plans to run as a Republican in Ohio’s 9th U.S. House district. The filing means a campaign committee can raise and spend funds on Mr. Wurzelbacher’s behalf.

The seat is now held by Marcy Kaptur, the longest serving Democratic woman in the House.

Mr. Wurzelbacher rose out of obscurity in 2008 after meeting Mr. Obama at a rope line and saying he distrusted the candidate’s economic policies regarding taxing small business, which led Mr. Obama to explain that economic benefits come when “you spread the wealth around.” Shortly afterward, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain began to repeatedly cite “Joe the Plumber” in a presidential debate.

Mr. Wurzelbacher later campaigned with Mr. McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin. He also wrote a book, spoke at conservative gatherings and has worked with a veterans’ organization in Alaska that provides outdoor programs for wounded soldiers.

He has been an icon for many anti-establishment conservatives. He drew cheers at a tea party rally last year in Cincinnati when he told the crowd not to let “a bunch of liberal pansies” take away their rights.

His district, which was redrawn this year and stretches from Toledo to Cleveland, is heavily tilted toward Democrats. Republicans said this summer that they were recruiting Mr. Wurzelbacher to make a run, thinking he could raise enough money to mount a serious challenge.

Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost already has announced he’s seeking the GOP nomination. Ms. Kaptur and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, much of whose district in Cleveland was lumped into Ms. Kaptur’s, will face each other in a Democratic primary.

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