San Diego ex-mayor — and Point Loma resident — Kevin Faulconer officially announces run for governor
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer formally announced that he is running for California governor, either in the regularly scheduled 2022 election or in a possible recall election of incumbent Gavin Newsom later this year.
Faulconer, a Point Loma resident whose nearly seven-year run as San Diego’s mayor ended in December, has raised more than $1 million since establishing an exploratory committee for governor three weeks ago.
Faulconer, a moderate Republican, said in an interview Feb. 1 that his campaign will focus on restoring common sense to state government, returning children to school and fostering overregulated small businesses.
“I’m going to be a voice for Californians who are suffering because California can’t do the basics,” he said. “It’s time for the California comeback.”
While Faulconer’s candidacy for governor is considered a longshot because he’s a Republican in a state dominated by Democrats, the possible recall could boost his chances.
In a successful recall of Newsom, the candidate who gets the most votes among those seeking to replace him would become the new governor, regardless of whether that candidate gets more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.
Organizers of the recall said over the weekend that they have collected 1.3 million signatures, getting them close to the nearly 1.5 million needed by March 17. But they have said their goal is 2 million because many signatures may end up being invalidated.
Voters would face two questions in a recall election: Should Newsom be removed, and who should replace him. If the question of whether he should be removed does not receive majority support, the second question won’t matter.
Faulconer’s chances would be strongest if he is the only Republican on the recall ballot. But John Cox, the losing Republican candidate in 2018 and a Rancho Santa Fe resident, announced over the weekend that he also plans to run.
Faulconer said he is optimistic about the recall, which has been fueled primarily by Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You are seeing a tremendous amount of momentum across the board — among Republicans, independents and Democrats,” Faulconer said.
The Newsom campaign has criticized the recall effort as being fueled by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Newsom’s campaign also noted that a recall election would cost as much as $100 million.
Regarding Faulconer’s candidacy, the Newsom campaign has criticized him for supporting Trump and struggling with San Diego’s homelessness problem.
Faulconer said his efforts on homelessness reduced the number of people on the streets, making San Diego unusually successful compared with other large California cities.
The former City Council member also is likely to face criticism for San Diego’s hepatitis A crisis and the scandal over the city’s purchase of a downtown high-rise filled with asbestos without getting an appraisal.
Faulconer declined to say whether he should be blamed for the hepatitis outbreak or the building purchase, contending that his administration “tackled tough issues and made a real difference” in the state’s second-largest city.
“We brought people together to get results,” he said. “It’s time to restore balance and common sense to our state government.”
Faulconer said Californians, especially small-business owners, are suffering under one-party rule by Democrats.
Faulconer, 53, served two terms on the City Council before being elected mayor in a 2014 special election, and then was re-elected in 2016.
If the recall effort is successful, Newsom would be the second California governor recalled. Gray Davis was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger.