His name is Joe Kalenze, and you can call him Joe the Plumber
His name is Joe Kalenze, and you can call him Joe the Plumber. "Just about everybody is," he said. Kalenze, 58, is actually Joe the Grand Forks city plumbing inspector, but since Wednesday night's presidential debate -- when John McCain and Barac...
His name is Joe Kalenze, and you can call him Joe the Plumber.
"Just about everybody is," he said.
Kalenze, 58, is actually Joe the Grand Forks city plumbing inspector, but since Wednesday night's presidential debate -- when John McCain and Barack Obama made repeated references to "Joe the Plumber," a potential voter in Ohio -- that's become Kalenze's new handle, too.
"I was tempted to answer my phone 'Joe the Plumber' today, but I resisted," he said.
"The good thing about is it might give 'Joe Six-Pack' a rest," Kalenze said, laughing, as he ended his shift Thursday. "When what's-her-name, Sarah Palin, came out with the 'Joe Six-Pack' thing, that was getting kinda close."
Palin, McCain's running mate, has sought to identify with and appeal for the votes of average, "Joe Six-Pack" guy-in-the-crowd types.
"My wife heard 'Joe Six-Pack,' looked at me and raised an eyebrow," Kalenze said. "Now, with Joe the Plumber, I'm getting a lot of ribbing from everybody."
It started with other employees in the city inspections office at City Hall.
"We were teasing him this morning, a whole bunch of us," said Marsha Berg, who works in the office. "We said things like, 'You should capitalize on this, Joe. Your name is out there now.' "
Good buddy Joe
Kalenze, a licensed master plumber who worked at UND and had his own plumbing company before taking the city inspections job 18 years ago, said he watched the debate and laughed as the candidates kept trying to persuade "Joe the Plumber" -- and other average Joes -- that a McCain or Obama administration would be better for them.
"With all the negative campaigning going on, it was good to have something more personal like this," he said. "These debates are just boring, and this made it livelier.
"I especially liked it when McCain said, 'My good buddy Joe.' It gives it a personal touch and makes it easier to watch."
This Joe the Plumber is leaning to Obama, though.
"Nothing wrong with McCain, but it's just got to be different from what we've had," Kalenze said.
And he said McCain shouldn't make such a big deal out of the extra taxes Ohio Joe would have to pay under Obama's economic plan if Joe went into business with a company of his own.
"When you go into business, there are so many fees and licenses you have to have," Joe the plumbing inspector said. "The extra taxes would just be a drop in the bucket compared to that."
But he wouldn't steer any young Joe away from the plumbing trade.
"I'd recommend anyone who's struggling today to drop what they're doing and take up a trade," he said. "It's been a very good life."
Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to email@example.com .