Updated at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 4, 2018
A former aide to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has been promoted at the Lincoln Club to president, the influential pro-business group announced Thursday.
Brian Pepin, Faulconer’s one-time director of city council affairs, was originally hired by the Republican-leaning club as executive director in February 2016, succeeding Ryan Clumpner.
In the paid position, Pepin, 33, will be the club’s first president since the departure of T.J. Zane in April 2014. Zane later served two years as executive director of the San Diego County Republican Party.
Pepin told Times of San Diego that the executive director role was a “managerial position” while that of president is to “provide a more visionary and public face for the organization.”
He added: “The board believes that it is important to have a strong voice for the business community and having a president at the helm of the Lincoln Club, rather than an executive director, symbolizes that.”
As president — a post he officially assumed New Year’s Day — he said he planned to support “pro-business candidates in every part of San Diego County, win the critical elections we need to, and provide a voice for San Diego’s taxpayers and business owners.”
The club has no plans to hire a new executive director, Pepin said via email.
“Pepin’s promotion by the Board of Directors comes as the Lincoln Club gears up for an important 2018 election year,” the club said.
“Four San Diego City Council seats are on the ballot this year, as well as two county supervisor seats and numerous congressional, legislative, mayoral, city council, and school board seats across San Diego County.”
The club, which calls itself the largest political action committee in San Diego County, with 340 members, boasted major electoral victories, “including the historic unseating of incumbent county Supervisor Dave Roberts by Lincoln Club-backed candidate Kristin Gaspar,” the re-election of Kevin Faulconer “and many other wins at the ballot box.”
The club says its membership has surged almost 40 percent in the past year.
“The Lincoln Club has never been on better footing as we enter an important election year for San Diego,” said Chairman Paul Robinson. “Brian has been a powerful contributor to the Lincoln Club’s growth and effectiveness over the last two years.
“His leadership as president is more important than ever at a time when the Lincoln Club’s objectives are so critical to the continued prosperity of San Diego.”
A Poway resident and Helix High School graduate, Pepin previously was chief of staff to San Jose Councilman Pete Constant and also worked for San Diego Councilman Scott Sherman, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In 2012, the club was profiled by Kelly Davis in left-leaning San Diego CityBeat.
Political strategist Steve Rivera was quoted as saying: “In many ways, the Lincoln Club is the Republican Party in San Diego County. Without them, you would not have [Mayor Jerry] Sanders, you would not have [Councilmember Lorie] Zapf.
“A lot of electeds need them in order to get to where they are. In many ways, they’ve followed the model of most conservative organizations, in which you don’t plan for the next battle, you plan for the next war.”