Former San Diego mayor launches exploratory committee to challenge Gov. Newsom: 'Ready for new leadership'

There is 'a growing frustration throughout California,' Kevin Faulconer says

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said on Monday that he is seriously considering challenging California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the next election, amid mounting support for a recall campaign seeking to oust the Democratic governor.

Faulconer launched an exploratory committee to challenge Newsom and signed a petition in support of the governor’s recall earlier this month. The petition states that Newsom "has failed Californians," citing unaffordable housing, record homelessness, rising crime, failing schools, exploding pension debt and a locked down population.

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"I think Californians are ready for new leadership and I think that that voice grows every single day," Faulconer told "Your World" on Monday, "I’m looking to be a part and help make that transformation happen."

Faulconer spotlighted Newsom's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which consisted of harsh lockdowns and little transparency with regard to the data that drove the state's public health response. 

"Science has not been the major indicator here in California, [the] state that’s locked down the most," Faulconer said. 

"We’ve had some businesses in California that have been open and shut five different times. The fact that we had outdoor dining shut these past several months when there was no science behind the transmission of the virus in outdoor dining settings I think speaks volumes."

Faulconer's comments come hours after Newsom announced plans to lift the regional order that called on residents to stay home except for "essential activities" as the state battles another surge of COVID-19 cases.

"Your World" guest host Charles Payne questioned whether Newsom and other Democratic leaders "deliberately slowed down the economy to influence the election" as Democratic states announce sudden reopening plans following the recent change of power in Washington. 

"What we saw today is a shifting of the goalposts, not based on common sense and science," Faulconer said.

"So many Californians up and down the state are frustrated and at their wit's end. The companies, small businesses that are the backbone of our economy in California, [and] once they shut, they’re not coming back" he explained. "That’s why there’s been this real sense of urgency to make a change in California, make a change at the top."

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Recall organizers announced over the weekend that they have collected 1.2 million of the 1.5 million signatures needed by March 17 to qualify for a ballot.

"This is bipartisan," Faulconer said of the effort. "This is Democrats, Republicans, independents, everybody that wants that change at the top in California."

Fox News' Talia Kaplan contributed to this report.