Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Announces Run for Governor
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is running for governor. Faulconer announced his 2022 candidacy last week, becoming the first major politician to throw his hat into the ring. If the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom succeeds, he’ll be on the ballot even earlier.
Faulconer, a moderate Republican, led the state’s second largest city from 2014 to 2020. Before that, he served on the City Council. He was known as a pragmatist, who supported action on climate change and talked about ‘building bridges’ instead of border walls. As mayor, he championed pro-growth housing policies. He once vetoed an increase in the city’s minimum wage and was overridden by a 6-2 Council vote.
A Republican gubernatorial candidate hasn’t eked out a win in California in 15 years. But a recall could provide a unique opening, just as it provided an opening for Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.
Faulconer didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but he did support his re-election in 2020. That could prove to be a big liability. When peppered with questions about Trump and extremist GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Faulconer chooses to circle back to the issues facing California.
"It's time for the California comeback," Faulconer said at a kickoff campaign event in Los Angeles. "And I’m excited to be a voice for Californians who are suffering because Sacramento can't do the basics. This campaign is going to be about restoring balance and common sense to our government."
Faulconer accused Newsom of exploiting the pandemic to further his political ambitions. He excoriated the governor for the continued closure of schools with no end in sight, the overall mixed messaging on the pandemic, fraud at the Employment Development Department, and the exodus of businesses from the state.
These messages could resonate if the governor's numbers continue to fall. A January poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Newsom with a 52% approval rating, down from 64% in May.