CALIFORNIA—Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, announced on Monday, February 1 that he will run for governor of California as Governor Gavin Newsom faces recall attempts against him.

In a video, Faulconer announced his gubernatorial campaign saying “it’s time for a California comeback” and added that “the world used to look to California for a brighter future,” but has now “become a land of broken promises.”

He posted on Twitter: “California has so much promise.  But Gavin Newsom’s broken promises have become our problems.  His leadership is failing our state.  It’s time for the California comeback.  I’m excited to officially launch my campaign for Governor.  Join me.”

Faulconer, who was the 36th mayor of San Diego from 2014-2020, is the first major Republican to challenge Newsom, a Democrat, to prevent him from having a second term. He chose to run after starting an exploratory committee on January 4.

Governor Newsom, who is up for re-election in 2022, is facing a recall election effort by the “Recall Gavin Newsom” campaign.  The campaign has until March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day — to submit all signatures. Currently, it has more than 1.3 million signatures and need 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a special election.

In December 2020, San Francisco News spoke to Randy Economy, Senior Advisor to the campaign.  He expressed optimism over the likelihood of Newsom facing a special election, saying “Absolutely!  Oh my gosh, absolutely!,” when asked if it could happen.

With Faulconer now in the race, Economy made it clear to the San Francsico News that the “Recall Gavin Newsom” campaign is not advocating for a certain person to replace him.  Economy said the campaign “is doing what’s right to make sure every Californian goes to the polls” and do their civic duty to “participate in a recall” election.

If recall attempts against Governor Newsom are successful, Randy said it will be a “historic moment not only in California political history,” but in American history as well.

The initial deadline was on November 17, 2020, but the campaign was granted a four month extension by a judge after they argued that the coronavirus pandemic made it harder to gather signatures.

If Faulconer defeats Governor Newsom, he would be the first Republican governor in the state since former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Recall attempts in California have been successful in the past. In 2003, there were enough valid signatures to trigger a special election with former Governor Gray Davis losing his seat to Governor Schwarzenegger, who served from 2003-2011.