SAN DIEGO—A well known war veteran is taking on a 17-year incumbent for a seat representing California's 51st Congressional District.
Nick Popaditch served in the Marine Corps until an injury during the Battle of Fallujah rendered him medically unable to continue. Popaditch took a rocket propelled grenade to the head and lost an eye and much of his hearing.
"I knew it was serious," said Popaditch. "It felt like I got hit in the head with a sledgehammer."
Popaditch, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Rep. Bob Filner. Popaditch is new to politics but not to the public eye. A picture of him smoking a cigar in front of a statue of Saddam Hussein just before it was toppled was splashed across many major newspapers. If elected Popaditch vows to fight for veterans' rights and benefits.
"They ensure we're free so we have to take care of them when they come home," Popaditch said of the veterans. "I think right now what we have to do is we have to ensure that that those don't slip through the cracks."
Congressman Filner is also committed to veterans. He helped increase pay for VA dentists and improve business opportunities for veterans. He also helped open a 400 bed veteran's home in Chula Vista.
"We started a new GI bill for the 21st century to give our returning vets access to both a college education and home buying," said Filner.
He has served in the House for 17 years and is Chairman of the Veterans Committee. If re-elected, Filner vows to tackle the problem of homeless veterans. The two candidates disagree on health care and party affiliation but not when it comes to honoring the nation's service members