U.S. Rep. Bob Filner told a crowd at the Central Public Library on Sunday afternoon that he's running for San Diego mayor in 2012.
Jason Packman, a San Diego State University graduate student, broke the news on Twitter live from a screening of a documentary about the 1961 civil-rights activists known as the "Freedom Riders." Filner, a Democrat, was one of the activists arrested during the protests and he made the announcement during the post-screening Q&A session.
Packman tells CityBeat that Filner was visibly moved by the film. After answering a question about contemporary activism, Filner said something along the lines of, "Should I tell you? Yes, I'm running for mayor."
Filner is the first Democrat to publicly announce for the 2012 mayor's race (click here for the running list).
We have, of course, left a message with his office.
UPDATE: A lot of different immediate reactions to the news. Some pundits teased about how it wasn't the most elegant of campaign roll-outs. Indeed, Packman told us that it seemed like an impromptu disclosure more than anything, which seems in keeping with Filner's off-the-cuff style.
We're still waiting for a response from Filner's office, but Packman, who is working on a Master's in linguistics, was very clear about what he heard Filner say. (Packman already holds a Master's in Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, in case you were wondering.) Our story was not based solely of Packman's tweet: Rather we made the guy repeat what he heard over and over again over the phone within minutes of his Tweet. Here's Packman's own blog post about the event.
Shortly after the story went live, writer Walter Meyer began posting to Facebook that the story was not true, because he too was at the event. CityBeat has since confirmed that Meyer attended Filner's Thursday appearance, not the Sunday event where Filner made the remark.
But if there's any remaining doubt of Filner's intentions, Labor Council CEO Lorena Gonzalez said she was surprised that his announcement would be news.
"He has told many of us he was running. I assumed everyone knew it was real," she said on Twitter.
Note: I've had to update the update a few times as more information has come in. As of 9:00 a.m., Monday March 28, this is to our knowledge accurate.