Nov. 10 2010 10:53 AM

Popaditch and his supporters turn Election Central into something completely different

Nick Popaditch
Photo by Seth Hall
“That guy looks like a villain,” a pre-teen friend of mine said when he spotted Nick Popaditch at Election Central in the civic center's Golden Hall last Tuesday night. No, no, I told him, he's wearing an eye patch because he was injured in Iraq. And it's good that he is, I added, because it might help kill the stigma of eye patches.

Turns out, my little friend might have had it right after all. After his mom took him home that night, things went ugly as Popaditch, a Tea Partyapproved candidate who ended up losing his bid to unseat Congressmember Bob Filner, stood by while his supporters physically and verbally cornered and intimidated Filner and his backers.

Popaditch's people, some wearing Tea Party garb and chanting Tea Party slogans, started to make noise midevening, and by the time Filner and his supporters arrived, the Popaditch crew were in full voice, angrily shouting in the faces of Filner and his entourage as they made their way through the hall.

If you've never been to Golden Hall on election night, it's generally celebratory, with winners and losers alike parading and rallying in the large room, surrounded by makeshift TV and radio studios where anchors are broadcasting live and interviewing politicians and pundits. It's spirited and, for the most part, respectful.

In keeping with the Tea Party's modus operandi, which is to noisily rage against the perceived status quo, Popaditch's people changed all that, injecting the environment with vitriol, profanity and menace. One large young man hollered, “Get out of here, you fucking faggots!” at Filner's bunch. Others shouted, “Commies!” and “Pinkos!” Eventually, the Tea Partiers, led by Popaditch, chased Filner and his group out of the hall and into the lobby and backed Filner against a concrete pillar, their chanting growing louder and madder. “Don't tread on me, Bob! Don't tread on me!” one man yelled. Popaditch confronted Filner directly, irked about an attack ad that had aired late in the campaign.

After they were separated, a smug, self-satisfied smile remained on Popaditch's face throughout his stay at Golden Hall. A bodyguard for Mayor Jerry Sanders and a couple of city police officers rescued Filner and led him back into the hall, where he did a quick interview with KUSI before being whisked out a back door.

The Democrat later told CityBeat that he'd been shoved in the fracas and said he'd never experienced anything like it at election time. The melée amused some keen observers who recall Filner's alleged shoving of a female United Airlines baggage handler at Dulles Airport in 2007.

But what isn't funny is the sort of people whom candidates like Popaditch attract and inspire. One is a man who was there at Golden Hall and posted a YouTube video of the experience interspersed with images of guns and war. The video is set to “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden, about a battle in the Crimean War, and “Rebellion (The Clans are Marching)” by German metal band Grave Digger, about an 18th-century Scottish uprising.

The amateur videographer, as CityBeat's Dave Maass discovered, is a man who posts on, an online message board popular among white supremacists. In the Nov. 4 post that contained his video, he gloats about how the Popaditch gang seemed to terrify Filner, who “ran like a coward.” In his YouTube message, he talks about the need for violent rebellion when politics fails to achieve the desired result.

This is the same message Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate who lost last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, delivered this past January on a radio show, warning that “Second Amendment remedies” are needed when “our government becomes tyrannical.”

Try as I might, I can't figure out how liberalism—which simply tries to make core services like education and medical care better and more affordable for middle- and lowerclass Americans and tends to be more circumspect when it comes to getting involved in foreign wars—became easy prey for such madness, particularly when it's been so frustratingly unsuccessful during the past 40 years.

There are Tea Partiers who have rational points to make about U.S. spending, debt and taxation. But their arguments are catnip for antigovernment crazies and frothing bigots of all stripes who're looking for outlets for their unhinged rage, and congressional Republicans used these loons as mob-scene extras in their campaign to whip up angst over the Democrats' healthcare-reform and economic-stimulus bills.

Popaditch will likely fade into political oblivion, and, hopefully, the rebellion-espousing, racist videographer is nothing to worry too much about, but until I can be certain that their disgusting antics were a one-time thing, I won't be introducing any more young folks to Election Central.


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