SAN DIEGO – California voters have rejected former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s campaign themes of ‘vanilla’ jurisdiction, two-party government and old-fashioned Republican ideals.
Unofficial returns from the recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated Newsom would remain in office at least until the end of next year, while Faulconer placed third among 46 candidates who sought to replace Newsom, behind Republican talk show host Larry Elder and Democrat and YouTube real estate investor Kevin Paffrath.
Faulconer struggled to convince a very polarized electorate that a moderate Republican could lead the “comeback to California” he promised.
On Tuesday evening, Faulconer blamed the apparent failure of the recall on a mid-campaign shift in focus and public attention away from what critics called Newsom’s shortcomings as governor.
“Here’s the reality: The recall stopped being about Newsom and it turned into a fight over personalities and national politics,” Falconer said at a campaign event in the Liberty Station neighborhood of Point Loma. “Newsom hasn’t changed, the recall has.”
The change allowed conservative conversational radio host Larry Elder, whose post was much more conservative and combative, to overtake Faulconer and his colleague from San Diego, recall candidate John Cox in the polls this summer.
Faulconer, who served as mayor of San Diego from 2014-2020, spent much of the campaign traveling across California to attack Newsom over homelessness, taxes, crime and the governor’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also made several national television appearances on cable news channels CNN and Fox.
During the election campaign, Faulconer touted his record as mayor, saying he has been successful in reducing homelessness, keeping crime rates low and fighting climate change.
But Faulconer never gained much traction statewide. Political consultants have generally agreed that Faulconer is not conservative enough for many ardent far-right recall supporters, but is too conservative for most of the state’s Democrats – of whom there are twice as many. than Republicans.
The consultants said Faulconer talks about old-school conservative priorities like lowering taxes and pro-business policies, but right-wing voters now gravitate towards more confrontational candidates who criticize the establishment.
On Tuesday evening, Faulconer compared the recall campaign to a circus.
“I’ve never been one to be in the circus; I was the one who entered and finished the circus, ”he said.
Faulconer was referring to the stability he brought to San Diego after taking over from disgraced former mayor Bob Filner, who resigned after a notorious sexual harassment scandal in 2013.
Faulconer argued during the campaign that he could also stabilize California by taking over from Newsom, who has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic.
“I am proud to have led a campaign based on experience, solutions and bringing people together because I still believe that is what Californians want,” he said Tuesday night.
Faulconer’s campaign website features more than 15 detailed policy proposals, almost all with a moderate or centrist approach.
When Faulconer announced his candidacy, he said he intended to run against Newsom in the 2022 election, and not just on the recall. Faulconer oversees several campaign committees related to the gubernatorial candidacy or the recall of Newsom. Since January, these committees have raised $ 4.3 million in total and spent $ 3.2 million in total.
On Tuesday evening, Faulconer declined to enter a race in 2022, but hinted that one was likely.
“Tonight was the first round,” he said. “There is more to come.”
Faulconer said Republicans would need a “grand coalition of tents” next year that includes voters outside the party, which he already did during his run for mayor in San Diego, democratic tendency.
While Tuesday’s results are certainly a defeat for Faulconer, the recall arguably gave him a head start on 2022 with an increase in brand awareness across California and the creation of a campaign-wide organization. of State.
In each of the last three general elections in California, the Republican candidates have lost double digits to the Democrats: Meg Whitman to Jerry Brown in 2010, Neel Kashkari to Brown in 2014, and John Cox to Newsom in 2018.
Faulconer, 54, served two terms on San Diego City Council before being elected mayor in a special election in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. A graduate of the State of San Diego, he lives in Point Loma.
© 2021 The Union-Tribune of San Diego. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.