Republican Carl DeMaio told a local news channel Tuesday that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's troubles have shifted his attention from his congressional bid to ousting his embattled former foe from office.
When asked by a reporter from San Diego's local ABC affiliate whether he is "100 percent focused" on his congressional campaign, DeMaio responded, "No I’m actually focused a lot more on removing Bob Filner from City Hall."
Currently, DeMaio is challenging freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., in the highly competitive 52nd District. Last year, DeMaio lost to Filner in the mayoral race by 2 points.
Many Republicans have speculated whether DeMaio will continue his congressional bid or, if the opportunity comes, pivot to run for mayor in San Diego, where he served on the city council from 2008 until 2012.
DeMaio's campaign said he is still running for Congress, and declined to comment on whether he would run for mayor should the opportunity arise.
"We don’t comment on hypotheticals," Demaio spokeswoman Jennifer Jacobs told CQ Roll Call after the interview. "There is no campaign for mayor. There is no election for mayor. We’re not going to talk to that."
Filner, a Democrat and former congressman, has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment in the workplace. He has not resigned, despite mounting pressure from many Democrats, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the entire San Diego City Council. Instead, he is undergoing voluntary behavioral rehab for his alleged mistreatment of women.
Also in the local television interview, DeMaio lamented that Filner ascended to office. DeMaio said he and his team knew of Filner's alleged mistreatment of women, and they attempted to inform voters in a television ad.
"It's incredibly frustrating knowing we could have done a lot of good for San Diego and at this point my administration would not be mired in controversy," DeMaio told 10News. "We'd be actually getting things done."
Republicans have touted DeMaio, who is openly gay, as a top recruit in California's 52nd District. He has received support from top GOP leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
California's 52nd District is rated a Lean Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.