After seven months of generating political 'high drama' as San Diego's mayor, Bob Filner is now the subject of speculation over what impact his broken engagement might have on his municipal governance going forward.
His erstwhile fiancée Bronwyn Ingram has not only abandoned whatever wedding plans were in the works for some unspecified date in October, but also her role as the mayor’s volunteer point person on homelessness.
Longtime political observers contacted for this story are generally hesitant to comment on politicians' personal lives.
But in Filner's case, they point out that he took his personal life to an unusual public level by introducing Ingram into the citywide discourse as San Diego's "First Lady" after she campaigned by his side extensively.
Their public displays of affection came early and often.
Further, Ingram has drawn wide praise from activists in the homeless community, who say her work addressing the problems really helped advance the cause.
They're expressing confidence that Filner's commitment to, and grasp of, those issues won't be affected by her departure from the scene.
"I think the motivation is there, and the momentum is there,” says Amy Gonyeau, chief operating officer of the Alpha Project for the Homeless. “We don't feel as though that's going to go away just because of this. However, I just have to keep saying without her leading the charge, I don't think we'd be where we are today."
Whatever was behind Ingram leaving Filner, some veteran players in San Diego’s political circles see it as a reflection of Filner’s turbulent seven months in office.
"The place is a zoo; it's all anyone's talking about,” said GOP political consultant Jason Roe. “I think the city is somewhat paralyzed by the discussion of what the mayor's going to do. And is this a landmark? Yes, except every week is a new landmark in this tragedy that we're watching unfold here before our eyes."
With Ingram often accompanying Filner on the campaign trail, there was the imagery of a couple whose 'Alpha Male' half was moderated by a 'Better Half' who could rein in his most aggressive tendencies.
Now, critics note, the mayor is losing key staffers as well-- some objecting to Filner’s testy temperament and what's been described as a top-down management approach that leans toward helter-skelter decision-making and unforeseen consequences.
"He has some serious organizational challenges right now that are only getting worse,” said Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego’s CEO and frequent essayist. “He's projecting an image that's spiraling out of control. And in fact, he might be able to organize himself and present a much better image of what's going on and what kind of results he's having. But right now, he's letting his opponents completely characterize him."
Another Republican political consultant, John Dadian, said Ingram’s departure figures to compound the impact of his staff exodus– leaving him without a confidant at home to serve in a role as ‘sounding board’ and guidance counselor.
"There are a lot of people that are waiting for him to fail,” Dadian added. “And he's helping them by giving them ammunition to use."
As widely reported on Monday, Ingram announced she'd broken off her engagement in an email to supporters.
Since then, Filner has been unreachable for comment.
That hasn't been unusual during his tenure-- only more so now, since his communication director resigned last month.