Despite San Diego's Mayor Bob Filner's public apology last week after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and his promise to seek "intensive therapy," even local Democratic leaders were calling for the 70-year-old mayor's resignation.
Sources in San Diego who spoke to Newsmax generally agreed that it was not a matter of "if" but "when" Filner departs.
Now the question is whether Filner — San Diego's first Democratic mayor in 20 years — will exit through resignation or recall. There is an important difference between the two mechanisms, as their disparate rules could spell a difference in who is the next mayor.
Under the city charter, a resignation would mean a special election within 90 days in which all candidates, regardless of party, compete on the same ballot.
Should no candidate win a majority, the top two vote-getters compete in a run-off, regardless of the candidates' party affiliation.
But in a recall, it's anyone's game.
Should the recall signatures of 101,596 voters (15 percent of the voters in the last citywide election) be certified, the City Council would call an election in 90 days.
If 50 percent of voters decide Filner should be recalled, he is removed as mayor and voters choose a replacement on the same ballot from among a list of candidates who have filed for the job.
"The winner is whichever candidate receives the highest number of votes — any plurality will do," T.J. Zane, president and CEO of the Lincoln Club of San Diego, told Newsmax.
But Zane, who helped oversee the petition drive for a successful pension-reform initiative in 2012, emphasized that "a recall is no small task. The 100,000-plus verifiable signatures must be collected in 39 days and they must be collected by residents of San Diego. Those are our rules here."
Under either circumstance, there will be no shortage of candidates.
Republican Carl DeMaio, former city councilman who narrowly lost the 2012 race to Filner, is now running for Congress. But he could easily switch races in the event of a special election this year. DeMaio, who is gay, is considered a libertarian Republican.
Other possible candidates are City Attorney Jan Goldsmith (who has sparred publicly with the mayor over various issues) and Councilman Kevin Faulconer, both Republicans, and Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat.
The most-talked-of Democratic prospect is a former Republican state legislator who ran as an independent for mayor last year and, after failing to make the run-off, went over to the Democrats.
Nathan Fletcher, whose abandonment of the Republican Party was the subject of a column by David Brooks of the New York Times, is a moderate who ran with the endorsement of the much of the city's business community and of former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, a past mayor of San Diego.
Almost to a person, Republicans told Newsmax that Fletcher could no longer be considered a "moderate" because of his taking the side of organized labor in the citywide initiative last fall on pension reform. Wilson is very disappointed in Fletcher's change of parties and almost certainly would not support him again.
Other Democratic prospects include state Sen. Christine Kehoe and state Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, both former City Council members.
No one is taking any bets on who would become mayor in either a special or recall election. But on the subject of Bob Filner filling out his term, there is considerably more agreement in San Diego that his time has gone.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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