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Former San Diego Mayor Joins Race For California Governor

 February 2, 2021 at 10:24 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Kevin Faulkner is officially running for governor the former San Diego mayor made a public announcement at a rally in Los Angeles. Today. He tweeted yesterday about his reasons for running. Speaker 2: 00:12 I know we can clean up California, and that's why I'm running for governor. I'm running to make a difference, not to make promises. If we're willing to think differently to demand results, we can make the powerful answer to the powerless. We can kick the insiders out, bring the outsiders in. We can write these wrongs by writing a better future for California. Speaker 1: 00:36 Faulkner had been exploring a run in 2022, but the recall effort against governor Gavin Newsome prompted his early move into the race. That recall effort is gaining steam fueled by frustration over a pandemic lockdowns school closures and vaccine slowdowns, but a Republican candidate still has an uphill climb in blue, California, and Faulkner's recent vote to reelect president Trump may not help. Joining me is UC San Diego political science professor Thad Couser and Thad. Welcome back. Speaker 3: 01:09 Thanks for having me, former Speaker 1: 01:11 Mayor Faulkner has been seen by some as the moderate who can revive the GOP in California. What are the reasons for that belief? Speaker 3: 01:20 Well, I think that's a statement of, of where the Republican party is today, right? That Kevin Faulconer is, is really in the center in some ways of, of, of California politics, because he's not a Donald Trump Republican, right? He is not taken the approach on issues like immigration and climate change that have made Donald Trump and his Republican brands. So Natha to independent and democratic voters in California. So it gives the Republicans really their, their best shot in the increasingly blue state of California. Speaker 1: 01:52 But isn't the Republican party in California, still the party of Trump. Speaker 3: 01:56 That's the question, right? The Republican party nationally and in California is now making this decision about how to define itself and embracing a candidate, uh, like Kevin Faulkner, who has taken different approaches on many issues who is yes, that low touch Republican, but someone who's much more socially moderate and someone who hasn't dipped into the lightening rod politics, uh, that have made the Republican brand. So talks to them, Cal California, that could be something that turns around the image of the Republican party, making it even relevant in a way that Republicans haven't been in the last decade in this state, Speaker 1: 02:32 Kevin Faulkner says that his campaign has already been able to raise a lot of money. What does that tell? Speaker 3: 02:37 Well, I think that tells you that he has his eyes on the primary challenge, right? That any one, trying to get their message out to 40 million Californians needs to be thinking about like, where are they going to be able to raise that money? And what does that say about the candidacy? I think the investment we're seeing from the Republican establishment right now in the recall campaign that has gotten much more professionalized, much less fringy, but has those, those that, that real financial backing that can get you some of the way, but Kevin Faulkner is going to need 30, 50, $60 million to get a message out there that is different than just the Republican brand. Speaker 1: 03:13 Yeah. Let's talk about the recall who's behind it. And how far has it gotten? Speaker 3: 03:18 Well, a lot of groups are behind the recall and this often happens when you have a grassroots movement that, uh, that is taken over by the establishment. So you have some, some, some groups that really have, have the ties that have disturbed, many political observers ties to the hardcore, uh, potentially insurrectionists, right? But then you also have, uh, sort of moderate mainstream Republicans who've come in with, with independent recall efforts to try to advance, uh, to get the paid signature gathers that it would meet that will be needed to get to the over, uh, over one and a half million signatures, valid signatures that need to be gathered by that March 17th deadline that the recalls working towards, it looks like it has the professionalization and the institutional support to potentially get they're setting us up for a fall week. Speaker 1: 04:05 Now the new poll numbers out today are not good news for governor Newsome. His approval rating has plummeted. Speaker 3: 04:13 There are no shock, but what really, what they're showing is a Gavin Newsome has come down from this high watermark of 60% approval that he had when we were still talking about a California miracle. When we were talking about how California's strict regulatory system had kept the virus at Bay, as we've all seen in the last two or three months, that that has changed radically, California has been a worldwide hotspot. And at the same time, Gavin, Gavin Newsome, right? Any governor is going to be second guessed, especially when he has so many stumbles like his, his dinner at the French laundry. So, so I think everyone is expecting his poll numbers to subside, but he's still in the high forties, in his approval rating. He still has more people supporting him than not. And that the question is, can he turn this around? As the state gets a handle on the pandemic, as schools begin to reopen, does he have room to rise again, if he moves towards a fall recall, he's got time and he's got a real chance. Speaker 1: 05:08 Is it your belief that the criticism toward Newsome's handling of the pandemic is justified? Or is he taking the rap? Because this pandemic has just been so awful. Speaker 3: 05:17 Look, any governor would have a tough time with this challenge of walking the tightrope between the public health measures, the really dramatic ones that are needed to, to keep this vicious virus at Bay and reopening the economy and getting things moving again, because that has huge effects on, on, on a wide, on all types of Californians. So it's a really tough job. Governor Newsome has had some clear missteps, right? His French laundry dinner, that, that, that was juxtaposed from what he was asking the state to do. That was a dumb mistake that he was fairly criticized for going forward. I think that the right way to judge him will be looking at sort of whether California can get a handle on this pandemic, whether can bring a coalition together to fulfill his goal of reopening schools and whether the economy will get back on track. Speaker 1: 06:04 If the recall petition gets enough signatures, Kevin Faulkner, isn't going to be the only challenger, right? Speaker 3: 06:09 No. The big question will be, are we going to see another field of 150 plus candidates, uh, with Gary Coleman with, with adult film stars, are we going to see multiple Republicans taking their shot? Are we going to see a Donald Trump style Republican who might enter the race really get that base support and, and crowd out a candidate like Kevin Faulkner. Who's going to try to run from the middle. That's going to be a strategic conversation. The Republican leaders, Republican donors and, and the top potential candidates are going to have to have Kevin Faulkner looks like the Republicans best shot. Speaker 1: 06:43 Okay. We will check back with you as the story unfolds. I've been speaking with UC San Diego political science professor. [inaudible]. Thank you very much. All right. Thanks so much. Speaker 4: 07:03 [inaudible].

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Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is running for California governor. The 54-year-old centrist Republican says in an online video that California has become a failed state under Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
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