NBC 7's Gene Cubbison offers this analysis on the turmoil in San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts' office.
San Diego County's Republican Party is getting a big jump on next year's election cycle -- attracted by blood in the political water surrounding 3rd District County Supervisor Dave Roberts.
Until a few weeks ago, Roberts looked unbeatable – with no opposition from either party in sight.
Bitter accusations surfaced.
Now, district attorney’s investigators are on Roberts’ case.
Civil lawyers on the clock.
And ultimately, county taxpayers may be on the hook to cover six-figure severance claims filed by his former chief of staff and scheduler.
Since 1995, the County Board of Supervisors had been all-Republican until Roberts was elected in 2012 took office in early 2013.
But given widespread media coverage of his legal troubles, there are growing doubts about the popular, energetic first-termer winning a second term on the board.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” said Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Part of San Diego County. “It’s just a matter of if he leaves office before the election.”
Roberts flatly denies every allegation of misconduct and improprieties lodged by those former staffers, and told NBC 7 in an interview Thursday that he’s confident of withstanding any recall or re-election challenges.
In a Friday recording session for this weekend's edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking with Gene Cubbison" program, San Diego County Democratic Party chairwoman Francine Busby vehemently defended Roberts.
"He is one of the most successful, hard-working supervisors that we have had in years -- he has brought a fresh breath to the county board," Busby declared. "And he's pointing out the fact that he had two staff members that were disgruntled -- they made that very clear publicly. They're looking for compensation for that."
Krvaric offered this rebuttal: "If we are following the legal process, Bob Filner would still be mayor today. This man has no credibility, whether he makes it to the end of his term. There's no doubt he will not end up being able to run for re-election, at least not with any credibility. We will have several candidates, and that'll be a race."
The early talk of an electoral challenge to Roberts revolves around a state assemblyman, a North County mayor and a San Diego city councilman.
Busby downplays the severity of Roberts’ political peril.
"This is not the first time a supervisor has run into headwaters, and every one of them has survived -- from Bill Horn's issues and Pam Slater-Price's,” Busby noted. “ Some of the other ones have come into pay fines, they've had penalties, they've had problems. Dave Roberts has to prove that he is doing his job, that he has his office in order. And I think he will do that."
It's probably too early – and bad form -- for Democrats to think out loud about Roberts' viability for re-election.
But behind closed doors, off-line?
It may get too late to hold onto District 3 if they're not already making contingency plans.
NBC 7's Politically Speaking airs at 5 p.m. on Sunday.