San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Friday he will serve the remainder of his term, dashing the hopes of many Republicans who viewed him as their strongest contender in next year’s governor’s race.
“I’m honored that so many across our state are strongly encouraging me to run for governor,” he said in a statement ahead of the holiday weekend. “However, my first commitment is to San Diego.”
Faulconer had long maintained that he wouldn’t run for governor, despite popping up in polls as the leading Republican contender to advance beyond next June’s primary.
He faced increasingly vocal calls from fellow Republicans in recent weeks to formally shut the door on the prospect. During that time, supporters launched a full-court press to try to draw him into the race, using polling to argue that a divided Democratic field would help him to a November runoff against one of the Democrats. Many saw him as a moderate Republican who could appeal to the state electorate’s fiscal conservatism while not alienating Democrats on social issues and environmental polices.
His confirmation likely increases the chances that former Assemblyman David Hadley of Manhattan Beach enters the crowded governor’s race. Businessman John Cox of northern San Diego County and conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach previously announced their runs, raising fears among the GOP that they would scatter the GOP vote and allow two Democrats to slip into the runoff.
While the field remains unsettled, the front-runner in polls and fundraising is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Others include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang and ex-state schools chief Delaine Eastin.
Faulconer won the mayor’s office in a special election to replace disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner and cruised to re-election last year. In his statement, he said he will work to expand the city’s convention center, repair roads and infrastructure, increase the affordability of housing and strengthen the city’s global connections.
“San Diego’s future is bright and California holds the same potential,” he said, “and I look forward to continuing to serve the public well into the future.”