Filner breaks out the treats at fundraiser

Seems the gay community is sweet on Rep. Bob Filner.

The California Democrat was in San Diego for a dessert fundraiser last week held in the back yard of a prominent gay San Diego Democrat, attorney Bruce Abrams.

Low-carb dieters would have been disappointed by the fare at this affair — an array of sugary treats. There was also a make-your-own-sundae bar, with three types of ice cream and toppings of Kit Kat, Hershey chocolate bars, gummi bears and other candy. When one guest commented that it wasn’t a particularly healthful buffet, a volunteer pointed to a bowl of blackberries.

“Berries,” she said. “Lots of antioxidants.”

Never mind that the berries were intended to be spooned onto the cheesecake.

It wasn’t exactly a lavish affair. The ice cream was Breyer’s, served straight from the carton like some PTA ice-cream social. One guest quipped that for her thousands she was being treated to a couple of Costco cookies.

But to be fair, this was the second party Abrams has thrown for Filner this year, the first being an elegant, $1,000-a-plate dinner in February. And that time Abrams actually let people inside the house.

The timing of this event, dubbed “In Support of Equality,” was auspicious. Filner is building his campaign war chest for his first tough primary battle, against California Assemblyman Juan Vargas. Just a few days before the fundraiser, Vargas cast a no vote for the second time on a bill to legalize gay marriage in the state. The bill passed but was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

So the gay community was good and energized. The Gay Men’s Master Chorus of San Diego wrote a special ditty for the event, “Somewhere Over the Beltway,” a send-up of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that lauded Filner’s representation of gay interests in Washington and suggested that Vargas, a Catholic, has done the opposite. The performance had guests in stitches.

After his speech — in which he thanked the community for its “love and energy” and even gave a shout-out to his wife’s hairdresser — the friendly, approachable congressman worked the crowd, talking to, laughing with and hugging his supporters. He lingered for a while at the dessert table, too, eating chocolate by the handful and bantering with donors who were also working on their sugar highs.

As relaxed as Filner appeared, the members of Team Filner looked pretty serious. And perhaps they ought to be. While Filner has beaten Vargas in both the 1992 and 1996 primaries, redistricting in 2001 is thought to have shifted things in favor of the Mexican-American challenger by making the border district about 55 percent Latino.

Vargas and Filner don’t hide their contempt for one another, either. Maybe Filner should skip the chocolate and go for antioxidant-loaded blackberries, because he’s looking forward to a toxic primary season.