Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who for much of his career was one of California’s few rising stars in the GOP until he took part in the disastrous 2021 recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom, announced on Tuesday that he mount a return next year by running to overthrow a central seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Faulconer will face Democratic incumbent Terra Lawson-Remer, whose victory in 2020 gave her party its first majority on the board. in more than 30 years, and again, race will likely determine county government control. Lawson-Remer 3rd District backed Joe Biden 63-34 And backed Newsom 59-41 last year, but Republicans hope Faulconer’s profile will give him an opening in what is an officially nonpartisan contest. The first round of voting will take place on March 5, the same day as California’s presidential primary, and the two candidates with the most votes will qualify for the November general election.
But first, the city will host a special election this year for another seat that leans even further to the left. Democratic Overseer Nathan Fletcher resigned from the 4th arrondissement in May after a former county employee sued him for sexual assault, a departure that came six months after he won a second four-year term 65-35. As a result, the board is currently deadlocked 2-2, but Democrats are favored to retain Fletcher’s seat, which favored Biden and Newsom. 69-26 And 66-34respectively.
THE Democratic competitors in this race are Navy veteran Janessa Goldbeck, who lost the first two primaries for the now defunct 53rd congressional district in 2020-Rep. Sara Jacobs and San Diego City Council member Montgomery Steppe. The GOP, meanwhile, will field Amy Reichert, a conservative activist who lost to Fletcher last year, and Navy veteran Paul McQuigg. The four will face off on August 15 and, unless one person wins a majority, a runoff will be held on November 7.
Barring any unpleasant surprises for Democrats this year, the 2024 battle between Lawson-Remer and Faulconer will likely be the one that decides control of the oversight board for years to come. Republican incumbent Joel Anderson is also up for re-election next year in the 2nd District, which barely backed Biden by a 49.1-48.6 marginbut Republican Brian Dahle beat Newsom here 55-45. Democratic Supervisor Nora Vargas is also defending the dark blue 1st District, while the newest member of the body is Republican Jim Desmond, who won another four-year term last year.
Faulconer’s launch comes just under two years after his once-promising political career took a huge hit. He had risen to prominence in early 2014 when he won a special election to succeed outrageous Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat who had managed to briefly put his party in control from City Hall in 2012. Faulconer was then easily re-elected in 2016 as leader of the state’s second-largest city, and it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before he ran for office. present statewide.
But his long-awaited campaign for governor did not go as his supporters expected. The Republican, who was named mayor at the end of 2020, originally talked about challenging Newsom when the governor was next due to appear on the ballot in 2022. He, however, adjusted his plans after conservatives garnered enough signatures to force a recall vote against Newsom in 2021, becoming one of many Republicans who ran to replace the holder. (The recall was a two-part question: voters were first asked whether they supported or opposed ousting Newsom, and then which candidate they wanted as successor.)
Given the nature of the Republican Party today, what unfolded was not surprising. The former mayor, a self-proclaimed “vanilla” politician who had cultivated a moderate image in power, was quickly eclipsed by far-right radio host Larry Elder, and he never managed to gain ground with the GOP base. Newsom’s team was more than happy to ignore Faulconer and frame the recall as a choice between a Democratic governor who took the pandemic seriously and an extremist opponent of vaccine and mask mandates, and the strategy worked as intended. The reminder failed 62-38 and, to add insult to injury, Faulconer took a distant third place with just 8% on the now meaningless second question to replace Newsom.
Faulconer considered taking over the governorship in 2022 as he originally planned, but missed the race, arguing that “The lingering effects of the circus that unfolded towards the end of last year’s encore make it extremely difficult to relaunch the type of campaign I would want to run.” Lawson-Remer, however, is doing what she can to make sure Faulconer doesn’t launch the type of effort he now wants to launch against her.
“Kevin Faulconer was a complete failure as mayor”, the Democratic supervisor said in a statement on Tuesday. “Faulconer is a longtime politician who has been running for office, any office, for 22 years. He has no moral compass, claiming to be a moderate but voting for Trump in 2020 and defending that vote even after the January 6, 2021, uprising. Our county deserves better.