With the average voter worried about the stability of their jobs,
home values, and retirement accounts, it's no wonder rich candidates
are trying to downplay their wealth on the campaign trail. But Republican concrete magnate Marty Ozinga
seems to be reaching these days as ...
With the average voter worried about the stability of their jobs, home values, and retirement accounts, it's no wonder rich candidates are trying to downplay their wealth on the campaign trail. But Republican concrete magnate Marty Ozinga seems to be reaching these days as he tries to convince 11th District voters that he's an average guy of average means.
Appearing with Democrat Debbie Halvorson before the Tribune editorial board two weeks ago, Ozinga said, "I still feel like I'm middle class. I go to work everyday. I live off my weekly paycheck just like everybody else does." Watch it:
While Ozinga certainly does collect a paycheck, it's a far cry from the median Illinois household income, which hovered around $54,000 last year.
As president of Ozinga Bros., the Homer Glen businessman earned $457,000 in 2007 and $256,000 between January 2008 and April 2008, according to his personal financial disclosure filed with the FEC (which also showed him owning $2.4-$3.1 million in assets).
That salary boils down to about a $19,000 bi-monthly paycheck, before taxes. According to the Wall Street Journal's 2007 "Rich-O-Meter," it also puts him in the top 0.5 percent of American wage earners.
In response to his claim at a separate appearance with Halvorson that he runs "a small business," Southern columnist Kurt Erickson took issue with Ozinga's attempt to bill himself as "just a little concrete guy":
Apparently, this is his way of trying to establish his street cred as a regular guy. [...]
It made me wonder: What is a small business?
There's no exact definition, but a general rule-of-thumb is that a small business is any company with 100 or fewer employees. In order to qualify for certain state loans and grants, small business owners in Illinois can't have over 500 workers. On his website, Ozinga says his family-run concrete business has 1,200 employees.
With statements like these, Ozinga is inviting the same "out of touch" label that John McCain brought on himself earlier this year when he defined "rich" as an annual income of $5 million, then couldn't recall exactly how many homes he owns.