In December, pollsters commissioned by organized labor asked San Diegans who are highly likely to vote in the June primary election whom they'll select for mayor. The results should have Congressmember Bob Filner very concerned.
Of those respondents who've made up their minds, only 13 percent say they support Filner, compared with 22 percent for San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, 15 percent for Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher and 12 percent for District attorney Bonnie Dumanis. When you add in people who are leaning toward a candidate, Filner drops to fourth place with 15 percent, behind DeMaio (26 percent), Fletcher (17 percent) and Dumanis (16 percent).
Fletcher, Dumanis and Filner are bunched up within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, so it's possible, for example, that Filner is really in second place. Also, polls are not 100-percent accurate, and this poll could be way off base (but it's probably not).
However, even if Filner is at, say, 16 or 17 percent, that's a huge problem. Why? Because he's the only Democrat in a race against three Republicans. It's reasonable to expect that Fletcher and Dumanis would attract Democratic votes, but this poll says that only 21 percent of people who've made up their minds (62 percent of those polled) will vote for Filner. That's an alarming number, considering that in San Diego, Democrats outnumber Republicans. Yes, 38 percent of respondents were undecided, but Filner's acerbic personality makes the climb that much steeper.
Now for the non-scientific part: DeMaio and Fletcher were the first two out of the gate, in terms of in-earnest campaigning. Dumanis sputtered initially but has picked up steam. Filner, meanwhile— other than showing up at candidate forums—is missing in action. CityBeat gets diddly-squat from his campaign when it comes to announcements of appearances or policy positions. If he's campaigning at all, it's totally under the media radar.
Before announcing his candidacy, Filner said publicly that if he were to run, he'd win. He surely believes he'll finish in the top two in June and move on to the November runoff. We're far less certain.
Progressives need Filner in the November election. He's the only major candidate who's guaranteed to govern with working-class citizens and outlying neighborhoods in mind. Fletcher's got a good speech, but he doesn't have the record to back it up.
We're four months from the primary election, which is plenty of time for Filner to gain ground. But he's got to get moving. Voters need to see that he's willing to work for their support, or they'll go elsewhere.