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Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer joins effort to recall Governor Newsom

In a post, Faulconer said, jobs are leaving, homelessness is skyrocketing and the state can't even issue unemployment checks right now.

SAN DIEGO — Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a likely Republican challenger to Gov. Gavin Newsom, endorsed a statewide effort to recall the governor.

Faulconer, who left San Diego City Hall last month after two terms as mayor, linked to the recall petition website with this tweet: "It's a new year. We need a new governor. Jobs are leaving, homelessness is skyrocketing, and the state can't even issue unemployment checks to people struggling right now to get by. California is better than this. Join me in signing the recall petition."

Newsom's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the recall petition website, recallgavin2020.com, 911,000 petitions have been signed as of Dec. 29. The number of valid signatures from California registered voters needed to qualify for the ballot is 1,495,709 by mid-March.

The governor was widely criticized after attending a dinner at the French Laundry in Napa Valley in November amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photos of the dinner showed Newsom without a mask when he was asking Californians not to socialize with friends and wear a face covering when going out and being around others.

The governor apologized for attending the dinner, calling it a "bad mistake."

The dinner was a 50th birthday party for lobbyist Jason Kinney, an associate of Newsom's whose firm has business before the governor.

Several previous attempts to recall the governor faded, but the current effort has been gaining momentum with more Californians upset over health orders that have closed school campuses and businesses.

Faulconer sat down with News 8 in early December when he said, "I'm seriously considering a run for governor because our state needs new leadership," said Faulconer. "It needs new ideas. I don’t think one-party rule has been working and so when I look at some of the most important issues that we're facing as Californians -- the need to reduce homelessness statewide, which we have done in San Diego, the need to keep our states safe, which we remained the safest big city in the country in San Diego -- when I think about what we've been able to do here and how we've been able to do it, I think we need that same type of energy and results-oriented approach in Sacramento."

Bonus interview footage:

In December, Faulconer was appointed a visiting professor of community leadership and government innovation at Pepperdine School of Public Policy in Malibu. His service at the school began Friday. Faulconer will teach a new graduate course, titled "Innovative Local Leadership," in the school's State and Local Policy specialization.