Faulconer weighs challenging Newsom after leaving office in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — Change is coming to city government in San Diego, with Mayor-elect Todd Gloria set to take over for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has reached his term limit.

But it may be far from the last that San Diegans see of Faulconer’s political career, as the outgoing mayor is now emerging as a potential Republican challenger to Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2022.

Faulconer spoke with Capitol Bureau Reporter Ashley Zavala Friday about the recent rumors that he could be Newsom’s opponent in two years’ time. “It’s something I’m seriously considering,” he said.

This week may have been the tipping point for Faulconer, he said, after a series of steps by Newsom that drew the mayor’s ire: implementing a statewide curfew to deal with the state’s surging coronavirus case rates in the same week that news emerged he had attended a large dinner party that state health officials would typically advise against.

“I think it’s been building,” Faulconer said. “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.”

The mayor, generally considered a moderate in an increasingly polarized political landscape, is mulling the run in his final weeks governing the state’s second largest city.

“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,” he said.

“It’s not Democrat, Republican or independent, it’s, ‘What’s the right thing? How do you get results?’ When you do that, people will support you, people will vote for you. It doesn’t matter if you have an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to your name.”

Asked if he had set a specific timeline for deciding on a run, the mayor said: “I am focused right now on the task at hand, my final month as mayor … and I’ll be making that decision after that.”

Faulconer has not yet formed an exploratory committee, which would be the first official step to run for the office.

The governor’s last challenger also had ties to San Diego: Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox lost to Newsom in the 2018 election.

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