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These are photos of Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer from several years ago when they probably disliked each other maybe a bit less than they do now.

I got a text Friday warning me that “Kevin Faulconer is going to ask you for money for his absurd run for CA Governor.”

Faulconer has never asked me for money before so this was provocative.

Turns out the text was from Reform California, the PAC run by Carl DeMaio.

DeMaio, the former city councilman turned radio talk show host turned congressional candidate turned this, also launched a website designed to emphasize a litany of Faulconer’s alleged liberal liabilities and sour conservatives on him as Faulconer ramps up his campaign to challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Why would he do this? I called DeMaio and asked.

“The Republican Party in California has been in dismal condition. It’s become a third party because it’s been trying to be like Kevin Faulconer,” DeMaio said.

DeMaio insisted he would not run and he would do this to any candidate who came in the tradition of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Meg Whitman.

“The playbook that these failed Republican leaders have followed is: ‘Let’s be like Dems, go along to get along.’ Kevin Faulconer is the epitome of that.”

There’s history, though: DeMaio last year ran for Congress in a savage campaign between him and now Rep. Darrell Issa. Issa used this very same format of takedown against DeMaio that DeMaio’s using against Faulconer – fear about unauthorized immigrants and extreme conclusions about fiscal policy and homelessness.

Another attack is that Faulconer is a “turncoat” and “California’s version of Mitt Romney.” This is only an insult or demeaning to people who have a negative view of Romney among Republicans, and the main reason for that these days is not his take on like taxes or deregulation or the environment. It’s that he opposed former President Donald Trump and supported his first impeachment.

Translation: Faulconer isn’t a Trump guy. Which is yet another clue as to why Faulconer decided that a few weeks ago was the right time to endorse Trump.

DeMaio and Faulconer have been rivals going back to when they worked together on the pension reform initiative Proposition B in 2012. DeMaio wanted to end pensions for all city employees and Faulconer and then-Mayor Jerry Sanders wanted to protect firefighters’ pensions and had a different initial approach.

Then the Republican establishment chose Faulconer to run to replace former Mayor Bob Filner, after he resigned. DeMaio had run against Filner and wanted their support.

And last year, Faulconer endorsed Issa against DeMaio, and stuck with him when Issa’s attacks on DeMaio ventured into gay-baiting.

But also: DeMaio may be trying to support another candidate. There’s been national chatter about Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell, potentially running for governor. He started his career as a press secretary here for former Mayor Susan Golding.

DeMaio and Grenell are close allies.

Grenell opposed Trump but then became a fierce supporter, even briefly helping to run Trump’s effort to overturn the presidential vote in Nevada. He’s well known for his extreme combativeness with reporters. Trump would almost certainly support Grenell over Faulconer.

DeMaio said he didn’t know who would run but he said almost anyone would be better than Faulconer.

Faulconer’s team replied by pointing to a rebuttal sent out against DeMaio from Issa.

“The truth is Kevin Faulconer is a good Republican, and a good conservative. As San Diego Mayor Faulconer fought new taxes, prevented San Diego from becoming a Sanctuary City, increased police budgets and stopped the riots, and he stood up to political correctness and cancel culture,” Issa what.

Fact (sorry, can’t help myself) check: He “prevented San Diego from becoming a Sanctuary City”? In no way did he do that. When asked, Faulconer would sort of dismiss the point as irrelevant, because it is irrelevant. The only significance of “sanctuary cities” is on the question of whether police are allowed to cooperate with immigration enforcement agents. And his police chiefs always insisted they did not cooperate with immigration enforcement even if they often did in vague ways.

Anyway, I could go on. But also taxes? He supported hotel tax increases for a stadium, and for a convention center, homeless services and roads.

The campaign to recall Newsom has until March 17 to get its signatures in.


Richard Barrera says teachers need vaccines to go back: The trustee on San Diego Unified School Board appeared in front of a joint hearing of the California Senate and Assembly to discuss the state budget and the governor’s proposal to incentivize schools to reopen with significant funding offers if they do. For the first time I have heard, Barrera articulated the school district’s view that educators must be vaccinated before they can return to schools as the pandemic continues.

“We need to get our educators vaccinated as quickly as possible. That has to happen. And it is entirely appropriate for our educators, given the risks in our community, to say that now that we’re on the verge of having that vaccine available, we should get that vaccine before we take a risk and go back,” he told the legislators.

June Cutter has been busy: The Republican who ran against Assemblyman Brian Maienschein has formed her own fundraising and consulting business for conservative candidates, Highland-Illuminate, with Dena DiSarro Cruden.

And she has been busy recruiting candidates.

For one, meet Marco Contreras: This weekend the export broker who grew up in Tijuana and played football at University of San Diego will announce his run for the 79th Assembly District, the seat Shirley Weber is leaving. It’s a heavily Democratic district (President Joe Biden won it 67 percent to 33 percent) but Cutter wants to help Republicans build a bench of candidates.

She also recruited someone to run for Chris Cate’s seat on the San Diego City Council: But Noli Zosa, the restauranteur and community advocate who lost his City Council race to Raul Campillo, has apparently let it be known he is willing to move into the district and try again.

Cate has two more years in the seat. By the end of this year, candidates who want the open seat will already be clear.

“We do have a candidate for D6 but we want to see what Noli is thinking so we are kind of putting that on pause. The last thing we need is two Republicans fighting in that race,” Cutter told me.

Cutter also noted she supports Faulconer for governor.

Ammar, out: Ammar Campa-Najjar decided not to run for the 79th Assembly seat Weber will be leaving. He was at the Capitol as a guest of Rep. Sara Jacobs at the inauguration.

Michael Vu got a promotion: The registrar of voters is now the assistant chief administrative officer at the County of San Diego.

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Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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