Recall Bob Filner? It’s harder than you might think.

August 5, 2013

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner enters two weeks of therapy today even as a 10th woman has emerged alleging that he made an unwanted advance -- this time at a church fundraiser.


San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is likely to be in office for the foreseeable future.

Everyone who is anyone within the Democratic party is calling on Filner to resign, but he seems unmoved to date, a stubbornness that has raised the specter of recalling him from office.

Late last week, two major efforts to recall Filner joined forces to form a group called “Recall Bob Filner,” and its leaders vowed to remove the first-term mayor from office. “He can die, he can resign, or he can be recalled -- those are the only ways to get him out of office,” Elisa Brent, one of the group’s co-chairs, said in an interview.

But, a recall election would be a decidedly slow process -- and expensive to boot.

Elizabeth Maland, the San Diego city clerk who would oversee a recall election, said the San Diego County Board of Elections estimated that a recall election would cost city taxpayers $3 million to $6 million. Maland added that with so many variables at play, it's difficult to sketch out a timetable for how a recall might play out. Using the city’s municipal code, however, it is possible to outline a rough one.

Brent’s group needs 101,597 signatures on its petition to force a recall. The group can’t start collecting those signatures until August 18, at which time it will have 39 days to get them all. The city clerk would then have up to 30 days to verify the signatures.

If the signatures are verified, a recall election is called for 60 to 90 days after the city council ratifies Maland’s certification. That amounts to a recall election being held at the beginning of 2014, at which point it's not clear whether the desire to get rid of Filner would be as high as it is today.

Of course, if the recall group collects the signatures faster and the city clerk is able to verify the signatures in less than 30 days, its possible the recall election could be called as soon as late November.

But it’s also possible that the county registrar finds that the group doesn’t have enough valid signatures the first time around. The group could then use a 30-day extension to canvass for more of them, which would trigger another review period by the registrar and could delay the process by up to two months.

All of the above is to say that if Filner wants to stay in office -- and he seems committed to doing so -- getting rid of him won't be an easy or quick process. In short: Democrats may have Bob Filner to kick around for quite some time.

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Chris Cillizza · August 5, 2013