Republican John Cox formally launched his second bid for California governor on Monday, taking aim at both embattled Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces a possible recall over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a leading GOP rival.
Cox, the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee who lost to Newsom by 24 points, went live with a new campaign website as well as a TV ad in which he promises to push for lower housing costs and new jobs. The 30-second spot characterizes both Newsom and GOP rival former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who announced his gubernatorial campaign last week, as scandal-riddled politicians.
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The commercial, part of a statewide seven-figure ad buy, spotlights a controversial $127 million lease-to-own deal for office space deal during Faulconer’s tenure as mayor.
“San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer got the city to overpay for a high rise riddled with asbestos. The deal enriched a big campaign donor,” the announcer charges in the commercial.
And the commercial highlights Newsom’s dinner last autumn at a uber-exclusive restaurant which – at best – skirted rules imposed by the governor to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The resulting controversy fueled the recall effort against Newsom, which was launched last June over charges the governor mishandled the state’s response to the pandemic.
“Gavin Newsom said stay home, then dined with lobbyists at a restaurant where the wine tab was $12,000,” the announcer says.
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In video posted on his new website, Cox claims that “California’s problems are because of corrupt politicians like Gavin Newsom and Kevin Faulconer. I’m a problem solver, not a politician.”
With just over a month to go, the Newsom recall campaign’s nearly reached the 1.4 million signatures needed to qualify for a statewide ballot. The deadline to gather the signatures is March 17.
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Faulconer and Cox are the first two major Republicans to launch campaigns, but more GOP candidates are expected to jump into the race. And if Newsom ends up being recalled, a crowded field of Republican candidates reduces the GOP’s chance of ousting Newsom from office.
Cox, a 65-year-old multimillionaire attorney, has made numerous runs for office over the past two decades, including to bids in Illinois for Congress and a longshot run for the White House in 2008.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.