Decorated, cigar-smoking Marine runs for Congress

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2009 8:20 PM

A decorated Marine veteran famously photographed smoking a cigar after the fall of Baghdad is running for Congress in California's most southern district.

Nick Popaditch announced Tuesday that he is seeking the Republican nomination to unseat Democrat Bob Filner.

Known as "Gunny Pop," the 42-year-old Popaditch was awarded the Silver Star for combat actions in Fallujah, where he was blinded in one eye by a rocket-propelled grenade.

That April 2004 attack came nearly a year after an Associated Press photographer captured a smiling Popaditch smoking a cigar, with the just-fallen statue of Saddam Hussein in the background. The photograph landed on newspaper front pages, garnering Popaditch worldwide attention.

California's heavily Democratic 51st Congressional District stretches along the Mexican border from San Diego's suburbs to the Arizona state line.

Filner, first elected in 1992, was re-elected last year with 73 percent of the vote.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.signonsandiego.com