Ex-San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is considering run for governor, signs petition to oust Newsom

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San Diego’s former Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced this weekend that he had signed a petition to recall Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Faulconer told the San Diego Union-Tribune last month that he is considering his own run for governor. He served seven years as San Diego’s mayor.

Faulconer said on Facebook and Twitter around 10:30 a.m. Saturday that he signed the recall effort because jobs are leaving the state, homelessness has increased and the state unemployment office‘s difficulty in issuing checks during the COVID-19 crisis.

Efforts to reach the governor’s office Saturday afternoon for comment were unsuccessful.

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“Every Californian fed up with the governor’s hypocrisy and failures should sign the recall petition,” Faulconer wrote. “Either through a recall or a regular election, it’s time to start holding the governor accountable.”

Newsom gets mostly high marks for his handling of the economy over the past 12 months, despite protests over coronavirusrelated shutdowns,according to a survey released in early December by the Public Policy Institute of California. It found 55% of residents in San Diego and Orange counties (combined in the study) approved of Newsom’s handling of the economy.

San Francisco Bay Area (67%) and Los Angeles (65%) were most pleased with his performance. It was a different story in other parts of the state, where respondents in the Inland Empire (52%) and Central Valley (45%) said they approved.

Newsom was elected with 62% of the vote two years ago, which was the largest share by a Democratic candidate for governor in state history.

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The Newsom recall effort is the sixth such attempt since the governor took office in 2018. Organizers must gather about 1.5 million signatures by March 17 for it to go to a statewide vote. A website set up for the recall effort said Saturday it had about 911,000 signed petitions. Newsom will be up for reelection in 2022.

Political analysts have pointed to Faulconer’s recent criticism of the governor as a sign he is preparing talking points for his own gubernatorial run. The last Republican governor of California was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who served from 2003 to 2011. Only one Golden State governor has been successfully recalled, Democrat Gray Davis in 2003.

Newsom has received criticism for having some of the strictest lockdown efforts in the nation during the pandemic. He also faced a wave of disapproval for eating at a restaurant north of San Francisco in early November with about a dozen friends, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” Newsom said in a statement.

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Faulconer is not the only California politician to be critical of the governor. Republican Rep.-elect Darrell Issa, who was recently elected to represent the 50th Congressional District, has appeared on Fox News to criticize Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.

Mollnar writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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