San Diego will hold a mayoral election — and a run-off of top vote-getters if needed — by the end of the year, following Friday's announcement by Bob Filner that he was stepping down following charges of sexual harassment from a growing list of women.
As part of a deal to avoid prolonged court action, the 70-year-old Democrat announced Friday that he would resign on August 30.
Under the city charter, Filner's fellow Democrat and City Council President Todd Gloria will become acting mayor and an election must occur within 90 days.
All candidates, regardless of party, will appear on the same ballot. Should no candidate receive a majority, then a run-off will be held between the top two vote-getters within 49 days. Local sources told Newsmax they expect the initial election to be held sometime in November and a run-off before the end of the year.
Filner last year became the first Democrat to hold the mayoralty in two decades and Republicans will be doing their utmost to recapture City Hall in the nation's eighth largest city.
No sooner had word spread Filner was leaving than all eyes were on the Republican who narrowly lost to him last November: Carl DeMaio, former city councilman who is gay and solidly libertarian in philosophy.
DeMaio, 39, had been considering a race for Congress against freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters next year. But once his name was floated for mayor again, DeMaio came under strong and personal fire, as a story in the left-of-center Voice of OC reported that two past colleagues on the City Council said they saw the Republican masturbating in City Hall men's rooms.
"There is no other way to respond to this than to call it what it is: a lie," DeMaio spokesman Jason Roe told The Daily Caller.
T.J. Zane, president and CEO of the Lincoln Club of San Diego, told Newsmax: "I heard one thing like this about Carl last year and it never picked up traction. There was no merit to it and its surfacing now may have more to do with trying to keep him out of the race."
Other Republicans considering the race include City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who is a favorite of many in the downtown business community, and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who has run for mayor three times in the past.
Among Democrats, the most oft-mentioned name is that of Nathan Fletcher, who switched from Republican to independent to Democrat all last year. Running during his phase as an independent, the centrist Fletcher came in third in the 2012 mayoral primary behind Filner and DeMaio.
Although Fletcher has been courting organized labor in San Diego and the city's gay political establishment, both of those groups are more likely to go with a more proven ally.
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a loyal ally of unions in Sacramento and herself gay, is considered a more formidable Democrat than Fletcher if she makes the race. While on the City Council, Atkins once served as acting mayor following another mayoral resignation.
After assuming the post of acting mayor, Gloria could run in the special election — so could former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana. Privately, many area Democrats feel they have a strategic advantage with a woman candidate.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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