Bob Filner's harshest critics had been biding their time with occasional impatience, privately plotting how to shorten his tenure as mayor of San Diego.
As of Monday, they got an open window.
Under the City Charter, six months had to pass before someone could launch a recall campaign against Mayor Filner – and that’s time’s now up.
But for all the fuss and furor he's generated so far, for all the political blowback and hostile newsprint aimed at him, Filner still seems a long way from people getting enough traction to run him out of City Hall.
“Listen, I could see some activist do it to make a point,” says Republican political strategist Jason Roe. “But I think the hurdle to get it to happen would be so high. I think it's so high that nobody would make a credible attempt at it."
Nearly 102,000 thousand registered city voters would have to sign recall petitions within a 60-day period.
It’s estimated that a full-fledged campaign, if one qualified, would cost proponents upwards of $2 million -- and they'd need high-profile, widely respected names on the slate of would-be replacements.
Solid polling data also would have to point persuasively to an outcome ending in Filner’s removal.
“If he’s able to throw around the cloak of martyrdom in his fight to do whatever he’s doing at any given moment,” Roe warned, “I think it weakens those who are credible and honest critics of his behavior. And I just don’t see it happening.”
Those critics – generally well-known and financially well-heeled -- accuse him of bully-boy politics and practices that are bad for business.
Their thoughts were echoed on the streets Monday by Little Italy resident Elisa Gu.
"In the back of my mind, it's like we just have a new mayor and business-wise, he's not making things go forward,” Gu said.
"I've heard the conflict between him and the City Council, and they're supposed to work together. The fact that they can't, it just wastes taxpayers' money. And it's not productive. I don't like that."
But Filner’s anti-establishment agenda has plenty of populist appeal.
"Yeah, he might have made a lot of people angry,” said Chollas View resident Willie Mills. “All politicians make people angry. Not some -- all. But at least give the man a chance. Give him a chance. He's only been there six months."
Added San Carlos resident Michael O’Sullivan: "If he gets people upset -- well, that's part of the game … You end up alienating people, especially if you take a strong stand."
How outrageous would things need to get to make what now appears a non-starter more of a real possibility of qualifying for a recall election?
"I think the question is, will he continue to act in a way that would actually cause something big, resonant and clear to happen -- that really makes it overwhelming as a case to throw him out?” offered Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego CEO and a political blogger for the site.
“But even then, it's hard. I mean, you've got to be smoking crack or something," Lewis said.
Whatever the provocation, if push ever does come to shove -- and materializes in a recall effort?
"The mayor has, as we saw in the last election, a hard-core base of support that are going to vote for him no matter what,” says GOP political strategist John Dadian. “And if he told them ‘I'm in the fight of my life, I need you at these polls,' they're probably going to turn out."
Day One of the recall window ended without any sort of filing by the 5 p.m. 'close of business' at City Hall.
NBC 7 sought comment on all this from the mayor. No response was forthcoming.
The last recall of a San Diego officeholder took place in 1991, involving a councilwoman accused of "unscrupulous" political "paybacks" early in her first term.