LOS ANGELES (AP) — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer pledged to finish his four-year term as he campaigned for re-election last year, a decision that would deny Republicans a potentially attractive candidate for governor in 2018.
He’s apparently rethinking that plan.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan said Friday that he discussed the race with the mayor last year and that his fellow Republican “wants to run.”
Faulconer’s political adviser, Jason Roe, acknowledged that the mayor has privately discussed the 2018 contest but “the idea that he is planning to run is not accurate.”
“People have been encouraging him up and down the state” to enter the contest, Roe said. “I’ve never heard him say, ‘I’m planning to run.’”
Faulconer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
He has long been viewed as a potential candidate for the 2018 race, in which Democrats will be favored to hold the seat occupied by Gov. Jerry Brown. It’s already attracted prominent Democratic candidates, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.
Democrats hold every statewide office in California, control both chambers of the Legislature and count a voter registration edge of 3.7 million.
With the state firmly in Democratic hands, Republicans have struggled in recent elections to field competitive candidates in high-profile races.
In last year’s U.S. Senate contest, little-known Republicans failed to advance from the primary election, leaving only two Democrats on the November ballot in a race won by former state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Faulconer would come to the race with cross-over appeal: He’s a Republican in a city where Democrats heavily outnumber GOP voters.
However, the mayor told The Associated Press in May that he was committed to serving a full, four-year term if re-elected. He easily won a second term.
Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel said it’s widely known Faulconer is examining the race, though he has not spoken to him about it. He predicted Faulconer, as a GOP mayor in a Democratic city, would have statewide appeal.
“We know that mayor Faulconer is examining, checking and looking at this,” Steel said. “He’s really very methodical.”