The central committee of the Democratic Party in San Diego County opted Thursday night not to join several prominent Democrats in calling for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign over allegations of sexual harassment.
The decision came at a three-hour, closed-door meeting at a local union hall that was described as intense by committee Chairwoman Francine Busby.
In the end, on a split-vote, committee members decided there is not yet enough evidence supporting the allegations to justify calling for the 70-year-old Democrat to resign, Busby said.
"We don't have justice by press conference in this country," Busby said, a reference to the two news conference held by three former Filner supporters to demand his resignation due to "reprehensible" behavior toward women.
So far no formal complaint about Filner's behavior has been filed with the city. Busby said that if the allegations are proved true, the committee would be quick to call for Filner's ouster.
Busby said that committee members feel betrayed by Filner after working to elect him, the first Democratic mayor in San Diego in two decades. And they are repulsed by the kind of behavior that is being alleged by the three former supporters, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs, she said.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, City Council President Todd Gloria, Councilman David Alvarez, and Reps. Susan Davis and Scott Peters -- all San Diego Democrats -- have called for Filner to resign.
Filner has rejected the demands, saying that he deserves due process in having the allegations investigated. While he admits treating women badly, and promises to get professional help, he has denied sexually harassing women.
The local Republican Party was quick to criticize the central committee's decision.
"By failing to act, Democrats have shown that they care more about preserving political power than standing up for women who have been victimized," said Francis Barraza, the local party's executive director. "San Diego deserves better."