It’s no secret that Mayor Bob Filner has his enemies on the right. They didn’t like him as a congressman. They tried to raise fear about what he would be like as mayor.
And they sure don’t like him now.
They’ve attacked him. Caricatured him. They have stoked rumors of a recall effort.
But a recall is hard. It’s also a risky investment. Collecting more than a 100,000 signatures in only a few weeks would take millions of dollars – and all for a wildly uncertain outcome.
You see, far from upsetting his base, Filner’s fights have invigorated it. There are many neighborhood activists thrilled with what he’s doing. They don’t care about hotel owners and developers being upset with the mayor. They dig it.
And that’s what makes today’s news so powerful: A group of avid supporters of the mayor, progressives like him, have said they think he needs to leave the job immediately.
That includes former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who served as the Filner’s director of open government before leaving a few months into the term.
And it includes Marco Gonzalez, an environmental attorney who was thrilled at Filner’s election.
That Frye and Gonzalez are so shaken that they are willing to call for such a dramatic political change with so many uncertain outcomes indicates they’ve heard an awful story. Or several awful stories.
Yes, the mayor deserves the chance to face his accusers and yes, he’s unlikely to back away from a fight. But the news for the mayor lately has been awful. He admitted he needed to reflect on the way he behaves toward staff. And the long line of behavioral complaints is really quite stunning when you step back and count them all up.
Until we hear the stories of the women who are complaining of sexual harassment, however, this a political story. We’ve got nothing else.
U-T San Diego reporter Craig Gustafson tweeted that he couldn’t imagine the mayor resigning. An astute point: The man has spent decades fighting. He’s not going to relinquish his highest achievement easily.
But it’s worth remembering that the mayor has no communications director at this moment. His micromanaging has left his office in shambles. Surviving this will take a motivated, inspired group of supporters and talented staff working at all hours to orchestrate a recovery.
They’ll have to frame reality in a way that keeps more supporters from jumping ship. That seems unlikely. Not even the most sympathetic journalists can get basic information.
And there is actually only one other person whose condemnation would be more devastating politically than Frye and Gonzalez’s.
That would be Lorena Gonzalez, the new assemblywoman and Marco Gonzalez’s sister. As head of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, nobody was more instrumental in getting the mayor elected.
On Thursday morning, Frye, Marco Gonzalez and attorney Cory Briggs will hold a press conference to talk about what led them to this point and hopefully shed light on what they have heard.
If Lorena Gonzalez is there, even just in words, Filner’s thoughts will have to turn to how to exit gracefully.