Robert Earl Filner (born September 4, 1942) is the U.S. Representative for California's 51st congressional district, and previously the 50th, serving since 1993, and Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation, including much of San Diego's southern section, the cities of Chula Vista and National City and all of Imperial County. It includes most of California's border with Mexico, except for the city of Imperial Beach.
Filner was born in Pittsburgh, in Squirrel Hill. As a student at Cornell University, he participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, spending two months in a Mississippi jail for his efforts. Also, as a student, he worked as a member of the Cornell Daily Sun, the student newspaper. He graduated from Cornell in 1963 with a degree in chemistry, and earned his doctorate in history of science from the same school six years later. Shortly after earning his PhD, he moved to San Diego, becoming a history professor at San Diego State University for more than 20 years. He resigned his position in 1992 to run for Congress.
Filner was long interested in politics, serving as a staffer for Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota in 1975 and for Congressman Don Fraser, also of Minnesota, in 1976. He also served as a staffer for Congressman Jim Bates from the San Diego area in 1984. Mr. Filner has a daughter, Erin Filner, who is a social studies teacher at The Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford, NY.