Meet Springfield’s own Joe the Plumber

Dave Bakke

Joe Ochs heard it all day long Thursday: “Hey, it’s Joe the Plumber.”

He is a Joe. He is a plumber. And after Wednesday night’s Obama-McCain debate, he is Springfield’s Joe the Plumber.

There were about two dozen references during the debate to “Joe the Plumber.” The candidates referenced Ohio plumber “Joe” Wurzelbacher, who goes by Samuel. Wurzelbacher got the chance last weekend to ask Obama what his tax plan would do if Wurzelbacher bought the plumbing business where he works.

At the debate he became a symbol of every working man in the country as McCain and Obama touted which of their presidencies would most help the middle class.

So when Joe Ochs, a plumber for E L Pruitt, arrived at his job site at Concordia Village on Thursday morning, the guys started in.

“It’s was pretty much ‘Hey, Joe the Plumber! You’re a good friend of McCain!’” Ochs said. That wasn’t meant as a compliment.

“We’re union out there, so we tend to lean toward Obama,” Joe explains. Ochs virtually has decided to cast his vote for Obama, though it sounds like a reluctant vote.

“I don’t trust either one of them,” he said. “But I’m looking toward Obama. I think he comes off better in the debates — more intelligent, more calm.”

Ochs watched the presidential candidates debate for about an hour Wednesday evening and heard the words “Joe” and “plumber” plenty of times, as did everyone else. It just hit a little closer to home for Ochs.

“One of the guys said they were on the Internet last night and the Joe the Plumber T-shirts are already coming out,” Ochs said. “He said he’d order me one.”

The cafepress Web site ( offers Joe the Plumber bibs, T-shirts, caps and posters. They read, “We Will Unclog Washington” or “No More Drips in the White House” or “Joe in 2008: The Economy is in the Toilet.”

Joe Ochs says he doesn’t mind taking a good-natured ribbing.

That's good, because he'll be answering to Joe the Plumber at least until the election is over.

Dave Bakke can be reached at (217) 788-1541