With a possible or even probable recall of Gavin Newsom happening this year, there are rumored replacement candidates, and a few confirmed.
Usually in Gubernatorial races, major party candidates don’t really start to get serious until late in the year prior to the election year. But with election cycles now adding considerable more time, allowing for more debates and offering the public the opportunity to see more of the candidates, candidates are starting to be discussed seriously now, with many actually declaring and forming exploratory committees.
With an earlier than ever need for the GOP to find a Governor candidate, the Globe takes a look at current candidates, candidates who have formed committees, candidates who are heavily rumored, and a few speculative picks of possible candidates who have the right stuff to win in 2021… or 2022.
This is the first article in a series identifying, familiarizing and analyzing potential and named candidates for California Governor.
Previous experience: San Diego City Councilman 2006-2014, San Diego Mayor 2014-2020
The current favorite to get the CAGOP nod, Faulconer currently has an exploratory committee set up and may declare in the near future if all goes well.
Faulconer has had a surprising rise to prominence in San Diego, winning his first City Council election, and Mayoral election, following major corruption scandals. The first time was in a special city Council election after Councilman Michael Zucchet had wire fraud, extortion, and conspiracy charges racked up against him in a strip club scandal (really). His first Mayoral victory came after former Mayor Bob Filner was involved in a sex scandal so bad that every California Democrat in Congress at the time called for his resignation (also really).
Faulconer’s compassionate conservative tendencies have won over many on the left, with his time as Councilman demonstrating his fiscal conservative chops in raising the city’s credit rating back up, while also pulling for some social services such as housing for the homeless. As Mayor, he pulled a little more to the right: voting down minimum wage increases and signing the Newsom recall petition. But Faulconer bolstered his social views by putting more funding into homeless initiatives, being pro-choice, and supporting measures to get illegal immigrants in California citizenship.
As San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced in January 2020 he would take a ballot initiative to combat homelessness in California, directly to the voters. Faulconer was the only big-city California Mayor who successfully reduced homelessness in his city using an “all-of-the-above” approach.
San Diego implemented the largest expansion of homeless services in City history with four bridge shelters, the expansion of safe parking lots and storage centers, a new Housing Navigation Center and more. Those efforts resulted in San Diego being the only major county in California where homelessness went down last year.
Bumbles, bungles and fumbles:
Local government real estate “debacles” have plagued San Diego. Voice of San Diego reported, “On Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s watch, multiple real estate acquisitions devolved into scandal, costing the city time and taxpayer money.” The three deals “were characterized by problems that could have been avoided,” including a lack of scrutiny, issues that weren’t flagged before they were approved by the City Council, costly delays, and uncertainty for city employees and taxpayers.”
The City also rushed to purchase a building for the Homeless Navigation Center, of which many say the city significantly overpaid.
Can He Do It?
Coming into office after a major uproar is right in Faulconer’s wheelhouse – he’s done it twice so far – and can back that up by being reelected after the special election in the same position despite having a majority of Democrat voters in the election. He’s a proven candidate, with many outlets calling him the GOP’s best shot at taking back the Governor’s seat in California, but he may face some heat from some on the right for some liberal and libertarian views.
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