By Kevin Kelley
There were a few uncomfortable moments at Saturday’s Republican Party gathering at the Westlake Recreation Center when District 9 congressional candidate Steve Kraus seemed to violate what Ronald Reagan spoke of as the “11th Commandment” – “Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
Kraus initially praised his opponent in the Republican primary, Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, who gained fame during the 2008 presidential campaign when he questioned then candidate Barack Obama about his tax policy for small businesses.
Kraus, a Huron auctioneer and realtor, said Wurzelbacher was symbolic and caused a ripple during his questioning of Obama.
“People started talking about Barack Obama – Barack Hussein Obama – for the first time,” Kraus said.
But Kraus then said he was the only serious candidate for the 9th Congressional District.
“The reason I say that is because I’m the one who has the tenacity to see the job through,” he said. “What Joe did is very symbolic, but we need is substance. We need somebody willing to go to Capital Hill and hold the line against the onslaught of the liberal left.”
Kraus also alleged that Wurzelbacher said he was too busy campaigning to debate him before the March 6 primary.
Wurzelbacher later told West Life that he was too busy campaigning to debate Kraus.
Saying that it’s going to take a lot of work getting his message out to the electorate, Wurzelbacher noted that Kraus has the same opportunities to get his message out as he does.
In his public remarks, Wurzelbacher spoke of his background in the trades and how he served as a plumber in the U.S. Air Force. He compared the federal government to Goliath, the Philistine warrior defeated by King David of Israel in the Hebrew Bible. He handed out stones as a metaphor for the fight against government regulations that he says hinder economic growth.
“A lot of time we look at the federal government as being Goliath – very hard to take on,” Wurzelbacher said. “And so I want you, each and every one of you, to be a David with me and take on Goliath because the power is going to be in your hands to do it.”
Kraus said he was running for Congress because he is ashamed to be leaving to his children and grandchildren a country worse off than what was given to him. Kraus also spoke against burdensome government regulations.
Kraus and Wurzelbacher each spoke briefly after being introduced by Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Rob Frost. Wurzelbacher spoke first and therefore did not publicly respond to Kraus’s comments.
Also on March 6, two incumbents, Dennis Kucinich, who now represents the 10thCongressional District, and Marcy Kaptur, are running in the Democratic Party primary, as is Cleveland video company operator Graham Veysey. Libertarian Sean Stipe is also seeking the congressional seat.
The newly drawn district, which runs along Lake Erie from Lakewood to Toledo, is thought by many political observers to lean Democrat. (The district includes Bay Village and a portion of Rocky River.) Therefore, conventional wisdom holds that whoever emerges victorious from the Kucinich-Kaptur battle will win the seat in November.
In his remarks to local Republican leaders on Saturday, Frost said the GOP in Cuyahoga County is focussing on voter registration in preparation for the March 6 primary, building the party and finding grassroots leaders.
(Editor’s note: Due to a technical error, the second paragraph of this article was printed incorreclty in the published edition of West Life. Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher was the candidate who gained fame during the 2008 presidential campaign when he questioned then-candidate Barack Obama about his tax policy for small businesses.)