In a statement on her campaign website, Jenner says:
“California has been my home for nearly 50 years. I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. But for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision.”
The 1976 Olympian and Keeping Up with the Kardashians star will run a campaign against the besieged incumbent if there is a recall election this fall.
Democrat Newsom, has been widely criticised by Republicans who opposed his immigration and tax policies and most notably, his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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If she won the recall, Jenner would be the first female governor of California and also America’s first-ever transgender person to be elected as a state Governor.
Jenner first became famous when she won the 1976 Olympic decathlon and later as a reality TV star on her family’s show, Keeping up with the Kardashians. In 2015, she announced in a Vanity Fair interview that she had transitioned and revealed her chosen name as Caitlyn.
Who will be on Jenner’s campaign team?
Since confirming her bid, Axios reported that Jenner has hired “prominent GOP operatives”:
- Tony Fabrizio, the top pollster on Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns,
- Ryan Erwin, founder of RedRock Strategies,
- Tyler Deaton, president of Allegiance Strategies
- Steven Cheung, a former Trump White House and campaign communications hand who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2003 recall campaign.
Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale, a personal friend of Jenner’s, has helped her assemble her team but doesn’t plan to take an official title on the campaign.
Axios first reported that Jenner has been speaking to political consultants and is being assisted in her consideration by Caroline Wren, a longtime GOP fundraiser.
Wren previously worked at Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for President Trump’s 2020 campaign, and also helped organise the rally he addressed before the U.S. Capitol assault on January 6.
The two reportedly met through her work with the American Unity Fund, a GOP nonprofit focused on LGBT+ issues.
What are Caitlyn Jenner’s political beliefs?
The high-profile and long-time Republican has come under fire in the past for her political views after publicly supporting Donald Trump by voting for him in the 2016 election and attending his inauguration.
During his time in office, Donald Trump’s administration stripped back a number of transgender rights such as, reversing Obama-era health protection for transgender patients and banning transgender people from the military.
As a result, Jenner criticised the former president when he ordered an end to federal protections allowing trans students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
“As far as trans issues, this administration has been the worst ever,” Jenner told Newsweek at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in 2018.
“They’ve set our community back 20 years, easily. It’s going to be hard to change, but we’ve been through these types of things before and we’ll continue to fight it.”
Despite these setbacks, Jenner still believes she can help conservatives understand and accept trans Americans.
“I think it’s good that I’m on the Republican side because the Republicans know that, and I have an immediate in with them to change their minds,” Jenner said in an interview with VICE in 2018.
“The Republicans need the most work when it comes to our issues, I get that,” she added. “I would rather work from the inside. I’m not the type of person who is going to stand on a street corner with a sign and jump up and down. No, I’m going to go have dinner with these people.”
Jenner’s manager Sophia Hutchins, denied rumours that Jenner was interested in a gubernational run as recently as February last year.
She said that Jenner, ‘has never considered running for governor and is very happy doing the work that she is doing to promote LGBT+ rights and spending time with her 18 grandchildren and 10 children.’
Jenner “is very socially liberal,” her campaign advisor told Axios. “She’s running as someone that’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative.”
“Certainly she has not seen eye-to-eye with [Trump] on a lot of things,” the adviser said. “I think that Caitlyn will talk to anyone, Democrat or Republican. Donald Trump is not going to be the deciding factor for the state of California.”
What could Jenner’s policies look like?
We can expect Jenner to run on a promise to lower taxes in the state, the statewide tax rate in California is currently at 7.25%, the highest minimum statewide sales tax rate in the United States. In her statement, Jenner describes California’s taxes as “too high”.
She also criticizes an “over-restrictive lockdown” response to the COVID pandemic describing how small businesses have been “devastated” and how children have lost out on a year of education.
She added: “This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends.”
Does Jenner have any chance at winning?
Jenner would undoubtedly seek to repeat Republican A-lister, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election win over Gray Davis back in the 2003 recall.
But, she may face an uphill battle if she decides to run, as a new statewide poll shows just 40 per cent of California voters would support removing Newsom were the election to be held now.
“The biggest thing Newsom has to do is keep a Democrat from running,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for Schwarzenegger told NBC News. “So far so good, but it’s also easy right now. We’re in for several months of waiting.”
“Politically, we’re a completely different state than we were in 2003,” Katie Merrill, a Democratic strategist, said on Wednesday during a Facebook Live panel hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. “If you look at the statewide races, the Republican Party has effectively become a third party in California.”
Gov Newsom’s chief strategist, Ace Smith said during the panel, “It’s a different time. We’re in a state where, frankly, there used to be Republicans who used to be somewhat moderate. The Republican Party of Trump has lost [its] way.”
“Caitlyn Jenner is never going to be governor of California, but she may get herself a new show on a streamer out of all this,” an industry insider close to the situation told Deadline.
What has the reaction been?
As the news broke, social media began to react Jenner announcing her candidacy.
There were those, mostly on the conservative side, who support her.
However, there were those that felt that Jenner doesn’t stand for the values that many of her fellow Californians share and that America has had enough celebrity politicians for a while.
Regardless of how people feel about Jenner’s politics, there is no need for people to resort to bigotry.