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Faulconer Blasts Newsom After Announcing Gubernatorial Bid

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gives a thumb up to a supporter after speaking at a news conference in Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in the San Pedro section of Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong / AP
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gives a thumb up to a supporter after speaking at a news conference in Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in the San Pedro section of Los Angeles.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made his first public appearance Tuesday following his gubernatorial bid announcement, in which he railed against Gov. Gavin Newsom and touted his accomplishments as a two-term mayor of San Diego.

Speaking outside Cabrillo Avenue Elementary School in San Pedro, Faulconer said he was prepared to run in a special election this year if Newsom is recalled via a statewide effort that must reach nearly 1.5 million valid signatures from California registered voters by mid-March to qualify. Recall organizers said this weekend that they have collected more than 1.3 million signatures thus far.

Faulconer said he was also prepared to run in the regularly scheduled 2022 election, but said he believed the recall effort would be successful "because of the growing anger across California" regarding Newsom's "broken promises" in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness and jobs.

Pledging to lead the "California comeback," Faulconer said current leadership has failed Californians, alleging that Newsom has "destroyed jobs" and "empowered violent criminals," while also criticizing the governor for dining at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley when the state's stay-at-home order was in effect.

Faulconer's appearance in front of an LA-area school was also intended to highlight the fact that public schools have not reopened following pandemic-related closures, which Faulconer alleged was another "broken promise" on Newsom's part.

"His continuous failures are an immediate hazard to the state of California, and he must be replaced," Faulconer said.

Faulconer Blasts Newsom After Announcing Gubernatorial Bid

Speaking on KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday, UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser said, “It gives the Republicans really their best shot in the increasingly blue state of California.”

Faulconer's exploratory committee has raised more than a million dollars in the last few weeks.

But Kousser said it will take a lot more than that.

"Kevin Faulconer is gonna need 30, 50, 60-million dollars to get a message out there that is different than just the Republican brand," he said.

The former mayor said reducing homelessness, getting kids back to school and opposing tax increases were major parts of his platform.

"We are going to decrease homelessness, not condone it. We're going to support your job, not destroy it. We're going to let you keep more of what you earn, not tax it," Faulconer said.

Faulconer criticized Newsom's orders shuttering outdoor dining and other sectors, decisions which Faulconer alleged were not rooted in data.

"We have to have a process that is based on science. That's not what we have seen," said Faulconer, who also called for increased transparency with the public regarding the data informing such decisions.

Newsom's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Faulconer's charges. The governor has previously said that he is remaining focused on managing the state's pandemic response and not on the recall effort.

Regarding his time as mayor, Faulconer touted San Diego as "the only big city in California where homelessness went down, not up."

Faulconer said the city was able to fix roads without raising taxes and that rather than defunding the San Diego Police Department budget amid public scrutiny regarding police operations, "I increased the budget."

"We shook up San Diego, and we're going to shake up Sacramento," he said.

Faulconer was San Diego's mayor from 2014 through December after serving seven years on the City Council. In December, he was appointed a visiting professor of community leadership and government innovation at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy in Malibu.