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9th Congressional Debate Finds No Show For Challenger

Sam Wurzelbacher was not at today's scheduled debate. His rival flanked an empty chair (pic by Plain Dealer, Brian Bull)
Sam Wurzelbacher was not at today's scheduled debate. His rival flanked an empty chair (pic by Plain Dealer, Brian Bull)

The event was originally billed as a debate between the candidates running for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, namely Democratic incumbent Kaptur and Republican challenger Sam Wurzelbacher.

But minus a debate opponent, Kaptur instead gave a 15-minute speech. She talked to the crowd about the need to support education, revitalize Lake Erie and its ports, revisit tax and trade policies to benefit Ohio manufacturing, among other topics.

Afterwards, she called Wurzelbacher’s absence “unfortunate”.

“I think that the public should have an opportunity to hear him, explain why he would want to seek a seat in the Congress of the United States," said Kaptur. "We could have a very open discussion of the issues, that’s what liberty is all about. That’s what running for public office is all about. He’s made some statements in the press that he doesn’t like it. Well, my question is, why would he want to run for something that he doesn’t like?”

Speaking by phone the day before, Wurzelbacher said he never RSVPed for the City Club Debate. He said while the event didn’t work with his schedule, he’ll square off against Kaptur later this month at some Toledo events. When asked if he had anything to say to Kaptur, he responded:

“Right now I’ve no…I’m not your constant politician that can sit there and whip up a two-minute bull**** speech, so, ah…heh…I don’t mean that meanly, I just don’t have anything to say to her right now.”

Wurzelbacher gained fame in 2008, when he pressed then-presidential candidate Barack Obama on his tax policies for small businesses. Republican candidate John McCain dubbed Wurzelbacher “Joe the Plumber”, and referred to him constantly during his campaign.