Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Joe the Plumber' and Herman Cain: A Match Made on Cloud 9-9-9?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Joe the Plumber' and Herman Cain: A Match Made on Cloud 9-9-9?

Article excerpt

'Joe the Plumber' (a.k.a. Samuel Wurzelbacher), who is running for Congress, will campaign with Herman Cain. But the antitax everyman might be two years too late.

"Joe the Plumber" is on the comeback trail.

This month, the iconic small business owner who became a political celebrity in the 2008 presidential campaign, then declared his intention to run for Congress last year, has won the support of former presidential candidate Herman Cain and the editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Now, Mr. Cain has announced his plans to campaign in the Toledo area for Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who is running as a Republican in Ohio's Ninth Congressional District. Mr. Wurzelbacher, who has vowed to introduce a bill with Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan to Congress if elected, faces a Republican primary March 6.

Yet as unemployment drops and President Obama's approval ratings inch upward, the president's most famous everyman critic might have missed his moment, says Paul Beck, a political scientist at Ohio State University in Columbus.

In 2010, the antitax tea party movement - with which Wurzelbacher has aligned himself - was at its height, ushering in a new Republican majority in the House. The man who famously asked then- Democratic candidate Barack Obama about his tax plan, suggesting it would hurt small businesses, could have been a perfect fit.

"The magic moment was really 2010," says Professor Beck. "Had he been a candidate then he quite well could have ridden that, both to the nomination and a general election victory."

But that climate has changed in Ohio. Republican state lawmakers swept into office in the tea party revolution appear to have overreached - passing a bill that severely curtailed union rights, only to have the law overturned by a voter initiative.

For Wurzelbacher, the changing political climate in Ohio suggests "the novelty is worn off," says Beck.

Wurzelbacher retains some advantages in the Republican primary. While the Plain Dealer did not say exactly why it endorsed Wurzelbacher over Steve Kraus, a real estate agent, it commented that the decision was "a close call based more on style. …

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