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Bob Filner

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 51st district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1993
Preceded by None (District Created after the United States Census of 1990)

Assumed office 
January 4, 2007
Preceded by Steve Buyer

Born September 4, 1942 (1942-09-04) (age 67)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Residence San Diego, California
Alma mater Cornell University
Occupation college professor
Religion Jewish

Robert "Bob" Filner (born September 4, 1942) is a Democratic politician who represents California's 51st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes much of San Diego's southern section, the cities of Chula Vista and National City and all of Imperial County. It includes California's entire length of the border with Mexico. Filner is the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.



Filner was born in Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill. As a student at Cornell University, he participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, spending two months in a Mississippi jail for his efforts. [1] Also, as a student, he worked as a member of the Cornell Daily Sun, the student newspaper. He graduated from Cornell in 1963 with a degree in chemistry, and earned his doctorate in history of science from the same school six years later. Shortly after earning his PhD, he moved to San Diego, becoming a history professor at San Diego State University. He resigned his position in 1992 to run for Congress.

Filner was long interested in politics, serving as a staffer for Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota in 1975 and for Congressman Don Fraser, also of Minnesota, in 1976. He also served as a staffer for Congressman Jim Bates from the San Diego area in 1984. Mr. Filner has a daughter, Erin Filner, who is a social studies teacher at The Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford, NY.

Career in politics

His elective career began in 1979, when his opposition to the closing of a neighborhood school led him to run for the San Diego school board, where he defeated a longtime incumbent. Even though he was the only Democrat on the board, his "back to basics" approach to education won him wide praise, and his colleagues elected him president of the board in 1982. For part of his tenure on the board, he served alongside Susan Davis, who now represents most of the other side of San Diego in the House. He was elected to the San Diego City Council in 1987. He was handily reelected in 1991, and his colleagues elected him deputy mayor. His main interest was in economic expansion.

California gained seven seats after the 1990 census, and one of them was the 50th District in south San Diego (renumbered the 51st District after the 2000 census). In 1992, Filner ran in a five-way Democratic primary for the seat and won a narrow victory. One of his primary opponents was his former boss, Jim Bates, who had lost his seat in a sexual harassment scandal in 1990 [2] and whose home had been drawn into the district. Another opponent was veteran state Senator Wadie Deddah, who was term-limited. Filner defeated Deddah by a narrow margin, with Bates finishing third place in the primary. The district was almost 40% Hispanic (redistricting in 2000 made it 53% Hispanic) and heavily Democratic, and his victory in November (with 57 percent of the vote) was a foregone conclusion. He has been reelected six times with no substantive Republican opposition. He ran unopposed in 1998.

Filner is ranking Democrat on the United States House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation. He is one of the most liberal members of the House and was a founding member of the Progressive Caucus.

Filner has a bitter rivalry with Juan Vargas, another Democratic politician who has run against Filner in the Democratic primary three times. Filner won the latest Democratic primary, on June 6, 2006, with 51% of the vote, in a race against Vargas and two minor challengers, Danny Ramirez and Jesse Bresnihan. Filner and Vargas have accused each other of corruption.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. [3]

Filner easily won re-election in November 2006, defeating Republican Blake Miles and Libertarian Dan Litwin. Filner won about 67 percent of the vote cast in the district. Miles received about 31 percent and Litwin about 2 percent.

In 2008, Filner sponsored a resolution, passed by the House of Representatives, in support of National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day.

In February 2009, a bill was filed in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipino citizenship on Filner, Senators Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka and Ted Stevens, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.[4]

2010 election

On November 10, 2009 Nick Popaditch, a Marine that was blinded in Iraq and earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, declared his candidacy as a Republican against Filner. [4] It is believed that Filner will again seek reelection.

Committee assignments

Assault and battery case

On August 19, 2007, Filner was involved in a physical altercation with a United Airlines employee after he tried to gain access to an area of Dulles Airport that is only for authorized personnel.



External links


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District Created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 50th congressional district

Succeeded by
Randy "Duke" Cunningham
Preceded by
Randy "Duke" Cunningham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 51st congressional district

2003 – present
Political offices
Preceded by
Steve Buyer
Chairman of House Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by

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