By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Former two-term San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is on the attack as he launched his bid to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I’m Kevin Faulconer. I’m running for governor of the great state of California because it’s time for a California comeback,” Faulconer said at a campaign event.

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The former mayor is trying to position himself as a man who can unite Republicans and Democrats, touting his leadership in one of California’s biggest cities with a large population of registered Democrats.

CBSLA’s Tom Wait spoke with Faulconer one-on-one about his run in the recall election.

“Proud of the work I was able to do as mayor of San Diego for two terms, where we actually reduced homelessness. I did not allow tent encampments on the sidewalk. I increased our police budget,” Faulconer said.

The 54-year-old husband and father and former mayor says he can relate to the problems of everyday Californians. He says his wife’s small business was among those hard hit by the pandemic and Faulconer blames the governor.

“Failed on so many fronts, particularly the changing metrics, constantly in California. Color-coded system, geographic, back and forth, shutting down outdoor dining,” he said.

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On the campaign trail, Faulconer has also said he’s use his emergency powers to help battle the state’s wildfires.

“For all wildfire projects that have been on the list…or the fuel reduction that has not been accomplished, not just at the state level, but at the local level as well,” he said on the trail.

Governor Newsom is attempting to cast Faulconer and the other Republican candidates as Trump supporters trying to take over California.

“Enthusiastically supporting people that deny climate change, want more offshore oil drilling, more fracking in California, that doesn’t believe that women have the right to choose, all Trump supporters aiding and abetting the lie, the big lie, all of them,” Newsom said.

In the 2020 presidential election, Faulconer voted for Trump. Asked if he would disavow the false claim that the election was stolen, Faulconer said:

“Gavin Newsom does want to make this all about national politics. I think when we focus on California issues, again providing that leadership, nonpartisan stuff, but what we’re seeing from Newsom is trying to make everything partisan,” Faulconer said. “Two million Californians signed this recall petition.”

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Faulconer says as he gets the time to meet more voters, he believes his message of collaboration and unity will resonate.