Book Your Tickets to Toledo, Mainstream Media

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 26 2011 12:11 PM

Book Your Tickets to Toledo, Mainstream Media

When Joe Wurzelbacher first hinted at a 2012 congressional run, I offered a word of caution: He would not win. He resides in the 9th district of Ohio, which a Republican gerrymander has turned into a deep shade of electric blue -- it's 17 points more Democratic than the rest of America, according to Cook. Joe Wurzelbacher is extraordinarily unlikely to become a member of Congress.

So the media must be ignoring his official announcement. Right? Right?

Screen shot 2011-10-26 at 12.01.25 PM

See that? Nearly 1000 articles and stories in Google News about Joe the Plumber running for Congress. Not about Josh Mandel, the scarily upwardly-mobile state treasurer who has a decent shot of defeating Sherrod Brown. Not about the possibilty of a voter reform referendum that could make the November 2012 ballot; not even about the union and health care mandate initiatives on the ballot in six days. Nope. We are being dazzled once again by a guy who was a plumber for a while, and said some things, and then became a paid speaker at Tea Party events, in order to say the same things for a living.

Consider this a warning. There is a reasonable possibility of a 2012 campaign between Dennis Kucinich, the Democrat, and Joe Wurzelbacher, the Republican. There may be a good Esquire piece in this, if Charles Pierce wants to spend a couple of days on it. But it will not be a bellwether race, or a statement about What Politics Is Like in 2012. It'll be a campaign between celebrities. It will allow various PACs to fundraise off a big, buzzy race, then spend the money elsewhere. Watch Ohio-9 not for the saga of Joe the Congressman; watch how people exploit it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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