The Campaign Spot

Perhaps the Toughest GOP Challenger of This Cycle?

Perhaps you remember this picture from 2003:

Nick Popaditch, atop a tank in Baghdad with Saddam's statue in the background.

That was Staff Sgt. Nick Popaditch, of Indianapolis, Ind., with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, enjoying a cigar atop his tank as he arrives at a crossroads in downtown Baghdad, with the infamous statue of Saddam Hussein behind him before it was torn down. Popaditch continued to serve, was wounded (losing an eye), and received the Silver Star. He went on to write a book and become a motivational speaker.

Now he’s running for Congress:

“I’m not a politician, I’m a citizen, I’m a Patriot, and I’m throwing my hat into the ring to represent my country,” said Nick Popaditch, Republican candidate for the 51st Congressional District.

Popaditch was famously photographed as a symbol of American freedom and liberation.

“I believe the purpose of government, there’s things government should do for you, and things government shouldn’t do for you, and one of the things they should really not do is that they shouldn’t interfere with your opportunity; government should get out of your way, limited government, it shouldn’t take opportunity away from you, it should just get out of the way and give you the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Popaditch.

The Silver Star recipient is aspiring to unseat Democrat Bob Filner for the 51st Congressional District, which includes all of Imperial County.

“We’ve got our troops overseas right now, I’m going to make sure they have the equipment in their hands, the ammunition in their hands, and most importantly, the numbers; as a member of the Legislature, I won’t set policy, but what I will make sure they have is they have the proper tools and numbers they need, that when they call for a surge, they’re going to have those numbers to surge with,” said Popaditch.

It’s Randy Cunningham’s old district*; it went heavily for Obama last year (63 percent to 35.5 percent), but Arnold Schwarzenegger carried the district twice, by about 8 percentage points in 2006.

UPDATE: Some readers point out that because of redistricting, what towns and counties constituted “Cunningham’s old district” changed over the years . . .

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