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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

Strickland goes to bat for 'Sean the Ironworker'

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sean Powless, a Toledo tradesman and Obama supporter, says he's been slammed on a cable news blog after Barack Obama singled him out for praise as 'Sean the Ironworker.' Sean Powless, a Toledo tradesman and Obama supporter, says he's been slammed on a cable news blog after Barack Obama singled him out for praise as 'Sean the Ironworker.'
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Fourth-generation ironworker Sean Powless, an ardent supporter of Barack Obama, began volunteering for his presidential campaign in Toledo a month ago, largely because of the shooting death of a good friend late last year.

"We were just the best of friends and, in December, he was shot and killed in the Flats of Cleveland from a stray bullet," Mr. Powless said of Daymon Mumford, 30.

"He was a big supporter and it just ripped me up at the [Democratic National Convention] when Barack went up and accepted the nomination and Daymon couldn't be there," said Mr. Powless, a lifelong Toledoan who lives on the city's west side.

Working on the campaign has been cathartic for Mr. Powless.

"Needless to say, I was pretty depressed up until I started with the campaign," he said. "It has just given me hope more than anything else and it's given me my self back."

Earlier this week, Mr. Powless had a simple, metaphoric message for the Democratic presidential candidate.

"You tell Senator Obama 'Sean the Ironworker' is building a bridge for him to the White House," he told Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Monday in Holland during a campaign stop for Democrat Darlene Dunn's bid for the Ohio House.

Tongue-in-cheek comments like that have been common from supporters of both candidates since the "Joe the Plumber" phenomenon began, but Mr. Powless, 37, didn't expect his statement to actually make it to Senator Obama.

Mr. Strickland appeared with Mr. Obama for a summit Tuesday in Lake Worth, Fla., along with three other Democratic governors, the chief executive officer of Google, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and a small-business owner who announced: "I am not Joe the Plumber."

Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Strickland leaned over and relayed Mr. Powless' message to Senator Obama, which drew cheers from the crowd.

Yesterday, Mr. Powless, who was canvassing the Old West End for Mr. Obama, said he was happy the governor passed along the message and not surprised his story was spun by a national news organization.

"I never thought I would be the next victim of Fox News' biased reporting and slams," said Mr. Powless, of 3145 Sherbrooke Rd.

A blog entry about the summit posted on the network's Web site ended with: "No word on if Sean's name is actually Sean, if he's even an ironworker, or if he pays his taxes."

During an Oct. 12 encounter with Mr. Obama, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, 34, of Springfield Township, said he feared tax increases would undermine his "American dream" of buying his boss's plumbing business.

It was later revealed Mr. Wurzelbacher is not a licensed plumber, he isn't buying a plumbing business, and he has tax liens against him.

Mr. Powless yesterday said he is in fact a union ironworker, does pay his taxes, and rents a home.

Regarding "Joe the Plumber," Mr. Powless said: "I saw right through him right when he hit the local news reports."

The Obama campaign yesterday had kind words for Mr. Powless.

"Sean is the type of volunteer who is the first one in and last one out and exemplifies what Barack Obama's grassroots movement for change is about," said Kamyl Bazbaz, an Obama spokesman in Ohio.

"Around the office, Sean is known as a great canvasser and even after a tough shift at work he is back at the office making phone calls and doing whatever he can to help elect Barack Obama."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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