Kevin Faulconer just wrapped up six years as San Diego’s mayor, and he officially threw his hat in the ring to replace Governor Gavin Newsom if he's recalled.
He said on Monday in a campaign ad, “California has become the land of broken promises. I’m Kevin Faulconer, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We can clean up California, and it starts at the top.”
He’s not a familiar figure to most Californians, but he’s found success as a red mayor in a blue city, says University of California San Diego political scientist Thad Kousser.
“Kevin Faulconer is not Donald Trump, and that's why he's been, for a while, thought of as the next best hope for the Republican Party in California,” Kousser says. “He's low tax, he's fiscally conservative, but he's socially liberal, and he hasn't played the Donald Trump approach to the hot-button issues like immigration and climate change."
Kousser says there are two main reasons why a recall election would favor a candidate like Faulconer, as opposed to the 2022 gubernatorial election.
“It gives him a kind of a ‘get out of polarization free’ pass by bypassing a Republican Party primary, where as a moderate he would be at a disadvantage to someone who's more in line with the Donald Trump part of the party,” Kousser says. “And second, it catches Gavin Newsom when he's off guard, and potentially at his low favorability rating."