As pressure mounts for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign after a string of sexual harassment allegations from former female employees, so does the speculation about who might seek his office in the case of a special or recall election.
California Republicans could have someone in mind: Carl DeMaio, currently a GOP candidate for Congress.
Filner, a Democrat and former member of Congress from California’s 51st District, is being sued by his former communications director, Irene McCormack, for alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. A handful of others have anonymously accused Filner of harassment.
On Friday, Filner announced that he will take time off to receive therapy, rather than resign, after calls for him to step down from numerous Democratic officials, including Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But growing discord with Filner in the wake of the sexual harassment suit has also opened up the very real possibility of a recall election to remove the first-term mayor from office.
The looming question for Republicans is whether DeMaio, currently running against freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., in the 52nd District, would pivot to a potential mayoral special or recall election instead.
DeMaio, an openly gay politician who bills himself as a “new generation Republican,” ran against Filner in the 2012 mayoral race and lost by a 5-point margin. Previously, DeMaio served as a city councilmember from 2008 to 2012.
But DeMaio's camp declined to comment on whether he has any interest in another bid for mayor.
"We don’t respond to hypotheticals," DeMaio spokeswoman Jennifer Jacobs said on Friday. "There is no indication Filner will resign, so there is nothing to answer."
DeMaio remains one of the House GOP's top recruits in a competitive district. He has picked up the support of House GOP leadership, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Plugged-in California Republicans operatives believe DeMaio will stay in the House race. But, as Filner's position proves, the future of San Diego's top job is uncertain.
“Anything could happen. He might be weighing it,” one California GOP operative said Friday afternoon. “But the rumblings we hear are that DeMaio is firmly committed to running against Peters.”