Faulconer, 53, a Republican who left office last month because of term limits, spoke out on Twittter on Saturday against Newsom, a Democrat who has faced criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a new year. We need a new governor,” Faulconer tweeted, along with a link to the recallgavin2020 website. “Jobs are leaving, homelessness is skyrocketing, and the state can’t even issue unemployment checks to people struggling right now to get by. California is better than this. Join me in signing the recall petition.”
Previously, the effort to remove Newsom from office drew backing from some big-money donors, including an Irvine-based consulting firm.
Newsom handily won the 2018 gubernatorial race after then-Gov. Jerry Brown was termed out, beating Republican John Cox by nearly 3 million votes. Few Republicans have been elected to statewide office in the reliably blue state in the last two decades – actor Arnold Schwarzenegger being the last Republican governor before Brown took office for a second time in 2011. (Brown also served as governor from 1975-1983).
Faulconer served as San Diego’s mayor from 2014 until last December.
Faulconer, who became mayor of California’s second most populous city in 2014 after a special election and was succeeded by Democrat Todd Gloria in December, said Newsom’s visit to expensive Napa County restaurant The French Laundry last year, while Californians were being advised to eat at home, was a turning point for him.
In November, Faulconer also said he was “seriously considering” running for governor, according to FOX 5 of San Diego.
“The hypocrisy that we saw this week obviously touched a nerve for a lot of Californians who are trying to do everything that they can to follow the rules,” Faulconer said of Newsom’s French Laundry meal at the time. “I’ve been able to accomplish significant reforms that have helped move this state forward. [We have] one of the safest big cities in the country. We really brought people together on the issues of homelessness and housing, particularly infrastructure — there is a way to do that.”
A representative for Newsom responded Saturday to news of Faulconer’s support for the recall effort — portraying the Republican as a loyalist to President Trump in an appeal to the state’s overwhelmingly Democrat voters.
Demonstrators shout slogans while calling for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom during a protest in Huntington Beach, Calif., Nov. 21, 2020. (Associated Press)
“The Trump train doesn’t want to leave the station, but Kevin Faulconer is all aboard,” FOX 5 reported. “Faulconer proudly voted for Trump, and now they both refuse to accept the will of the voters — because they know they can’t win elections without changing the rules. So after bungling a local pandemic and homeless crisis, Faulconer is joining other Trump supporters who want taxpayers to waste $100 million on a special election redo, mere months before a regularly scheduled election.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board wrote last week about the prospect of Faulconer running for governor, claiming he left a “mixed legacy” in the border city.
“[H]is record as mayor is remarkably checkered,” the editorial said, adding Faulconer “has a history at City Hall that will be cherry-picked by admirers and critics alike to paint a portrait of a mayor who did well in trying circumstances or one who was in over his head.”
The newspaper said Faulconer deserves praise for tackling the city’s homeless crisis and for his COVID-19 response but faulted him over several local issues. These included not getting enough support to expand the city’s convention center, not preventing the NFL’s San Diego Chargers from moving to Los Angeles after a years-long stadium dispute, and for a multimillion-dollar 2016 deal for a lease-to-own office building that still sits vacant and for which repairs alone are likely to cost the city at least $115 million, according to the newspaper.