Caitlyn Jenner Files Paperwork To Run For Governor Of California In Expected Recall Election

Caitlyn Jenner at the Vanity Fair Oscar party last year. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Caitlyn Jenner has filed paperwork to run for governor of California in an expected recall election of Gavin Newsom.

“This isn’t the California we know. This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends,” Jenner said in a statement, referring to Newsom’s pandemic visit to the posh eatery French Laundry.

Jenner, 71, is the first celebrity name to declare for the recall election, which is not yet official. Organizers are expected to have gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot later this year to oust Newsom.

Jenner, a Republican, is being backed by a campaign team that includes Trump campaign veterans, including pollster Tony Fabrizio, the former president’s pollster, according to Axios. Brad Parscale, a friend, has helped her assemble a team but will not have an official title, Axios reported.

“California has been my home for nearly 50 years,” Jenner said in a statement. “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 and honest leader with a clear vision.”

Newsom has contended that the recall campaign is motivated by allies of Trump, who remains deeply unpopular in the Golden State.

Other Republicans who plan to run in the recall include businessman John Cox, who faced Newsom in the 2018 election, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. But Jenner’s celebrity undoubtedly will help her command media attention, which can be a key asset in reaching the state’s expensive media markets.

The last recall election in 2003 featured 135 qualifying candidates. Governor Gray Davis was ousted, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by far the most recognizable name, trounced the competition.

A former Olympian and actor known as Bruce Jenner, she came out as a transgender woman in 2015. She supported Trump the next year but publicly broke with him in 2018 because of his attacks on the trans community.

Jenner will have to overcome an obstacle that most celebrity candidates face — that they are serious contenders. When he ran for Senate in 2008, for instance, comedian Al Franken steered clear of entertainment and national media and focused on local outlets.

“There’s no way to know how Jenner’s decision might impact the campaign or which side will benefit most,” Dan Schnur, professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. “It will certainly raise public awareness of the recall, which is very good news for its supporters. But this could also contribute to the circus atmosphere surrounding the election, which is exactly what Newsom wants.”
“The question is how Jenner decides to campaign. Schwarzenegger spent his first several days of his candidacy emphasizing his policy goals, which allowed him to be taken more seriously than a celebrity candidate might be seen otherwise,” Schnur added. “We’ll see if Jenner follows his example.”

None of the candidates, though, will have a chance if voters opt to keep Newsom. A poll last month from PPIC showed 40% support for recalling Newsom, while his approval rating was still above 50%. His campaign reportedly put out a fund-raising email in which they noted Jenner’s work with members of Trump’s team. “We’re going to need help keeping up with Caitlyn’s personal wealth and ability to raise money from right-wing donors now that she has Trump’s team with her,” the email said.

In her statement, Jenner said that she has been “a compassionate disrupter throughout my life, from representing the United States and winning a gold medal at the Olympics to helping advance the movement for equality. As Californians, we face a now-or-never opportunity to fundamentally fix our state before it’s too late.”

She focused on what she described as “over-restrictive lockdown” measures during the Covid-19 pandemic, including children kept home from schools. She also cited high taxes, “putting an especially heavy burden on our most vulnerable people.”

“The significance of this decision is not lost on me,” she said. “The sacrifice is significant,  but responsibility is great, and I can’t wait to lead, to help and most importantly to disrupt the status quo once again.”

She said that she will make a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

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