By Chris Jennewein
San Diego has seen this show before.
A powerful public figure uses his position to make unwanted advances on women. Several courageous women finally come forward. Then more. And more.
Filner’s story began years before. As a 10-term Democratic Congressman representing a safe, gerrymandered district in south San Diego and Imperial counties, he was usually in Washington and rarely seen locally.
Then the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission ended gerrymandering. The resulting district didn’t look winnable, so he made a bid to be mayor of San Diego and succeeded. In San Diego, he was much more visible, and increasingly scrutinized.
Trump’s story also began years before. As a wealthy businessman and then reality TV star, he was in the public eye, but only when he wanted to be. Then he ran for president, the most intensely scrutinized job in the world. Out of that scrutiny came an audio recording from 2005 in which he bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.
Filner initially apologized. Then he began to push back, saying he did nothing wrong and a “fair and independent investigation” would clear him of sexual harassment charges.
Like Filner, Trump initially apologized in a video released last Friday. Then on Thursday, after other women came forward, he dismissed their stories as “slander and libel” and part of a “concerted, coordinated and vicious attack” on his candidacy.
In San Diego, less than two months elapsed from the first public allegations against Filner to his resignation in a deal mediated by the city attorney.
It had quickly become abundantly clear to both the San Diego political establishment and ordinary voters — who were lining up to sign a recall petition — that an elected leader who used his power and position to harass women could not be trusted as mayor of America’s 8th largest city.
The issue wasn’t sexual immorality, though that was certainly objectionable, but the fact that this powerful person used his power to unlawfully harm citizens. If Filner harassed women against their will, what else would he do in violation of the law?
We’ll know late on Nov. 8 what happens in the Donald Trump story, but in San Diego, we’ve seen how this ends.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.
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