'Joe the Plumber' wins Ohio primary, faces tough race in November

Joe the Plumber, aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, won his Congressional district in the GOP primary in Ohio. Wurzelbacher will now face US Rep. Marcy Kaptur in November.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain, right, joined Republican Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as 'Joe the Plumber,' on the campaign trail, in Rocky River, Ohio. Wurzelbacher now faces US Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the Nov. general election for the 9th Congressional District. (

An Ohio plumber thrust into national politics during the 2008 presidential campaign has won the Republican nomination in his home state as he makes a bid for Congress.

Samuel Wurzelbacher gained the nickname "Joe the Plumber" for expressing working-class concerns about taxes to then-candidate Barack Obama during a stop to the region.

The Toledo-area plumber defeated Steve Kraus, a Sandusky real estate agent, early Wednesday to grab the GOP nomination in Ohio's 9th Congressional District.

IN PICTURES: Joe the Plumber returns

Wurzelbacher faces an uphill climb in the fall against veteran US Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who won the Democratic primary. The newly drawn district snaking along the Lake Erie shoreline from Toledo to Cleveland tilts toward Democrats.

Kaptur defeated longtime Washington colleague Dennis Kucinich Tuesday in a bruising Ohio showdown made necessary by the newly drawn congressional map.

Kaptur is in her 15th term representing the Toledo area. She ran a campaign that emphasized her record of bringing federal money and projects back to the state. In a concession speech just past midnight, a bitter Kucinich described Kaptur's campaign as "lacking in integrity, filled with false truths."

"I hope this is not a representation of how she'll run the district," he said.

Kaptur did not respond to Kucinich's criticism, but said in a statement that she will need his supporters, and those of another primary contender, Graham Veysey, in the general election.

Kucinich is an eight-term congressman and two-time presidential candidate from Cleveland known for his quirky style and politically combative flair. Last summer, as Ohio's redistricting process was under way, he had flirted with running for an open House seat in Washington state.

Districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes in the new census. Ohio's lagging population growth caused the loss of two of its 18 congressional seats.

Whichever party controls a state legislature typically sets redistricting so that incumbents in the majority party are protected and minority party seats are put at risk.

Ohio Republicans drew just four of 16 districts that lean Democratic in a state that is evenly divided between the two parties. The decision to snake a district along the Lake Erie shoreline linking the Democratic strongholds of Cleveland and Toledo resulted in the state's lone intraparty contest between sitting House members.

Kucinich and Kaptur are both liberal Democrats who have been friends for years, but their campaign took a negative turn.

On the Republican side, fourth-term U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt conceded the Republican primary in her Cincinnati-area district to Iraq war veteran and Army combat surgeon Brad Wenstrup

Democrat William Smith was leading the Democratic primary to oppose Wenstrup in the southern Ohio district.

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Associated Press photographer Amy Sancetta in Cleveland contributed to this report.

IN PICTURES: Joe the Plumber returns

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