By Brian Niemietz | New York Daily News (TNS)
Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, better known as political activist “Joe the Plumber,” is dead at 49.
Wurzelbacher gained prominence in 2008 when he met then-candidate Barack Obama in Ohio during the future president’s 2008 presidential campaign. The Republican activist told Obama he was interested in opening a plumbing business and asked how the Democratic candidate’s tax plan would impact that venture. Wurzelbacher’s on-camera questions, along with his everyman demeanor, earned him the Joe the Plumber moniker.
He built that persona into a brand that netted a book deal and led to a flirtation with the country music business, according to Politico. Wurzelbacher ran for office in 2012 but was soundly defeated by Democrat Marcy Kaptur in the race to represent Ohio’s ninth congressional district.
One thing he wasn’t was a licensed plumber, according to the Columbia Dispatch, which reported “Joe the Plumber” never completed an apprenticeship, nor was he a member of Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers. That union backed Obama in 2008.
In 2016, Wurzelbacher expressed enthusiasm over Donald Trump’s White House candidacy.
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“He’s a winner. He’s made billions,” he told Reuters “He’s dated beautiful women. His wife is a model. That’s not to sniff at.”
Wurzelbacher said Trump was running in an era of when many people are afraid to speak their minds.
“They are afraid of being labeled a racist or a homophobe,” he lamented.
Wurzelbacher married in 2011 and had three children with his wife Katie, according to a fundraising page set up in 2022 after his family said he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His death was confirmed on that page Sunday.
“Joe passed away earlier this morning and entered our Lord’s heavenly home,” that message said. “Joe had been too sick/in too much pain to get out of bed lately and his goal was to get Katie and their kids moved to her hometown surrounded by family.”
Wurzelbacher also had an adult son from a previous relationship, according to Reuters.