In 1999, Democratic Congressman Bob Filner considered running for San Diego mayor. He decided against it, but did tell San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Gerry Braun what he was would do if he jumped in:

[Filner’s] own mayoral campaign platform, he said, would have included greater development of the Port of San Diego into a true maritime center, expanded programs to help school-aged children and greater cooperation along the border.

Now, Filner’s actually running for mayor. And the planks in his current campaign platform are exactly the same. His economic development plan relies on port expansion and more cross-border trade. His education idea is to implement more before- and after-school programs.

“I’m pretty consistent,” Filner said in an interview. “I’m talking about the exact same stuff here.”

The sameness of Filner’s ideas speaks to a couple interesting points about his candidacy.

Since voters first elected Filner to Congress in 1992, moderate Republican mayors have been in charge of the city. As the lone Democrat in this race, and a liberal one at that, Filner would represent a stark departure from that trend. Filner could argue that no one has run the city according to the principles he laid out 13 years ago so they remain as salient as they’ve ever been.

But Filner’s also been at his weakest on the trail when he’s tried to adapt these turn-of-the-century ideas to San Diego’s new political realities. He used outdated or inaccurate data about port commerce to justify his expansion proposal and seemed willfully ignorant when reporters called him on it. He dithered for 10 months before releasing a pension reform proposal that wound up resurrecting some of the same proposals discarded at the outset of San Diego’s pension crisis. Filner’s opponents could argue that his campaign platform is evidence that the congressman is out of sync with the city’s current politics.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.