Dear Commons Community
Caitlyn Jenner has officially thrown her name into the running for governor of California. Jenner — an Olympic hero, reality TV personality and transgender rights activist — announced “I’m in” on Twitter, joining a growing list of candidates seeking to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.
“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,” reads a statement from Jenner on her campaign site, launched yesterday morning. “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.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Axios, and other media outlets.
“The 71-year-old is reportedly running with a team of “prominent GOP operatives including Tony Fabrizio, the top pollster on Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, and Steven Cheung, a former Trump White House and campaign communications hand who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful 2003 recall campaign,” according to Axios.
In a press release, Jenner said California’s taxes are “too high” and lambasted current Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) “over-restrictive lockdown” response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends,” she said.
She also emphasized in the release that as a “compassionate disruptor throughout my life” and “a proven winner,” she believes she’s “the only outsider who can put an end” to Newsom’s “disastrous time as governor.”
Newsom, a first-term Democrat, is facing a likely recall election this year, though officials still are reviewing petition signatures required to qualify the proposal for the ballot. County election officials are required to submit their final signature tallies to the state no later than next Thursday.
Jenner, who came out as a transgender woman in 2015, released a statement that sketched an outline of what her agenda might look like. Cutting taxes. Repairing the economy. Fighting special interests and California’s Democratic-dominated politics.
Still, with her name recognition and ability to attract publicity, she could overshadow other GOP contenders, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose and businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in a landslide in the 2018 governor’s race.
“The politics of celebrity are going to enter in this in a big way, just like they did in 2003” when Schwarzenegger was elected, predicted David McCuan, chair of the political science department at California State University, Sonoma.
“She’s remained silent on many of these issues, and she doesn’t have a record of political participation,” he added. Schwarzenegger “was political royalty. And he had a presence that was as large as the galaxy. And as a result, he upset the whole race” in 2003.
The emerging contest had failed to attract a nationally recognized contender before the entrance of the 71-year-old Jenner, who won the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics and is widely known from the popular reality shows “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and the spin-off, “I Am Cait.”
However, she is untested as a candidate and little is known about her positions on critical issues facing the state, from the coronavirus pandemic to managing the economy. She has ties to former President Donald Trump, who remains broadly unpopular in California outside his GOP base, as well as his former political operatives who are helping her organize her campaign.
Jenner credits herself with advancing the movement for equality. But the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California said it would oppose her candidacy, citing her ties to Trump and Republicans who have sought to undercut transgender rights around the nation.
She also has faced speculation that she’s entering politics to steer attention to her entertainment career. And California has a much stronger Democratic tilt than it did in Schwarzenegger’s run in 2003 — registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in the state by nearly 2-to-1.
Hours after Jenner announced she would run, Faulconer took a lightly veiled swipe at her lack of experience in government.
Speaking with reporters in Huntington Beach, he described himself as “somebody who has won elections and knows how to get results.”
Ose said he looked forward to debating their “ideas, positions and solutions.”
Jenner supported Trump in 2016 but later criticized his administration’s reversal of a directive on transgender access to public school bathrooms. She also split with Trump after he said transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
The team advising Jenner has included Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, who also worked for Trump’s campaign.”
Jenner will attract a lot of attention as a candidate. Whether she can actually win the nomination is another matter.