Caitlyn Jenner announces bid for California governor

Caitlyn Jenner announces for California governor

Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic athlete-turned-transgender activist and reality TV star, has declared her intention to run for California governor in the looming recall race to unseat incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.

In a website launched Friday, Jenner says: “I’m In! 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 website does not identify her as being affiliated with any political party.

She added: “This campaign will be powered by everyday Californians who deserve leadership that is accountable to them, not the special interests in Sacramento.”

Jenner, a longtime Republican, in 2018 executed a political about-face, turning against then-President Donald Trump with a mea culpa column declaring, “I was wrong” about Trump’s commitment to LGBTQ rights.

“Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to claim to support this valuable, vulnerable community, and I was encouraged by the applause he received when he said at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 that he would stand up for the LGBTQ community,” Jenner said in a column published in the Washington Post.

“Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president…He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party…”

In a June 2020 interview with People about the five-year anniversary of her transition, Jenner said she has “changed her political views.”

“I’ve changed my thinking in a lot of ways,” she told the outlet. Now identifying as “economically conservative, socially progressive,” she believes “we need equality for all, regardless of who’s in the White House.”

Newsom opponents, frustrated with the governor’s liberal policies and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March turned in what they said was over 2 million petition signatures to qualify a recall election against him. The California secretary of state is in the process of validating those signatures; however, most observers expect the measure to reach the necessary valid signature count of about 1.5 million. An election could be held in October or November.

Others who have declared their intention to run include John Cox, a Republican businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018 and is running again; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; and ex-U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, who last held office in 2005. None is close to a household name.

Newsom, who was elected governor in 2018, previously served as lieutenant governor and mayor of San Francisco.

Newsom has been aggressively touring the state, touting its progress on vaccines. He has said he is taking the recall effort “very seriously” but has branded the drive as a “partisan political power grab” and the work of extremist conservatives and white supremacists like the Proud Boys.

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic athlete-turned-transgender activist and reality TV star, has declared her intention to run for California governor in the looming recall race to unseat incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.

In a website launched Friday, Jenner says: “I’m In! 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 website does not identify her as being affiliated with any political party.

She added: “This campaign will be powered by everyday Californians who deserve leadership that is accountable to them, not the special interests in Sacramento.”

Jenner, a longtime Republican, in 2018 executed a political about-face, turning against President Donald Trump with a mea culpa column declaring, “I was wrong” about Trump’s commitment to LGBTQ rights.

“Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to claim to support this valuable, vulnerable community, and I was encouraged by the applause he received when he said at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 that he would stand up for the LGBTQ community,” Jenner said in a column published in the Washington Post.

“Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president…He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party…”

In a June 2020 interview with People about the five-year anniversary of her transition, Jenner said she has “changed her political views.”

“I’ve changed my thinking in a lot of ways,” she told the outlet. Now identifying as “economically conservative, socially progressive,” she believes “we need equality for all, regardless of who’s in the White House.”

Jenner has ties to Trump, who remains broadly unpopular in California outside his GOP base, as well as his former political operatives.

The team advising Jenner has included Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, who worked for Trump’s campaign.

In her announcement Friday, Jenner described herself as a “compassionate disrupter” and that “career politicians have over-promised and under-delivered.” She called Newsom’s time as governor “disastrous.”

Newsom opponents, frustrated with the governor’s liberal policies and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March turned in what they said was over 2 million petition signatures to qualify a recall election against him. The California secretary of state is in the process of validating those signatures; however, most observers expect the measure to reach the necessary valid signature count of about 1.5 million.

In this Nov. 21, 2020, file photo, demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on Gov. Gavin Newsom during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif.
If the recall qualifies for the ballot, as expected, voters would be asked two questions: first, whether Newsom should be removed from office. The second would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if more than 50% of voters support removing Newsom from office.

If Californians vote to recall the governor, Newsom would be removed from office and the candidate who receives a plurality of votes — not the majority, just more than the other listed candidates — will take his place, according to the secretary of state.

The highest per capita clusters of signatures came from rural communities — higher concentrations were also present in more conservative areas of the state. Five previous attempts to recall Newsom were unsuccessful.

Democratic strongholds, including the Bay Area, remain loyal to the former mayor of San Francisco.

Anne Dunsmore, a consultant for Rescue California, one of the political committees backing the recall, said she recently spoke to Jenner and views her as a serious candidate.

“I don’t think she’s going to use it to further her own purpose, but rather bring awareness to what’s happening here,” Dunsmore said.

During a press conference at the reopening of Highway 1 in Big Sur on Friday morning, hours after Jenner’s announcement, Newsom said that he is focused on vaccine distribution and pandemic recovery.

Who else wants to run in the recall race?
Others who have declared their intention to run include John Cox, a Republican businessman who lost to Newsom in 2018 and is running again; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; and ex-U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, who last held office in 2005. None is close to a household name.

Faulconer announced his candidacy on Feb. 1. Following Jenner’s announcement, Faulconer held a press conference streamed through his Facebook page, in which he announced a “Save California Restaurants” plan, citing the impact the pandemic has had on the restaurant industry.

“Jobs are gone, dreams get put on hold and our communities are a lot emptier as a result,” he said. “In many cases … restaurants were opened and closed four and five times. Imagine losing your job five times.”

Republicans last captured the governor’s office when Arnold Schwarzenegger ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in a 2003 recall that featured a crowded slate of candidates including several minor celebrities. In that election, more than 55% of the votes went to the recall effort — Schwarzenegger received more than 4 million votes. Over 60% of the more than 15.4 million Californians who registered to vote actually did so in that special election.

To date, that was the only successful recall of a governor in California history.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Daniel Ketchell, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said that the actor-turned-politician was civically engaged prior to his run for office.

Newsom, who was elected governor in 2018, previously served as lieutenant governor and mayor of San Francisco.

Newsom has been aggressively touring the state, touting its progress on vaccines. He has said he is taking the recall effort “very seriously” but has branded the drive as a “partisan political power grab” and the work of extremist conservatives and white supremacists like the Proud Boys.

Jenner said that pandemic-related restrictions have damaged small businesses and that a “whole generation of children have lost a year of education.”

“Taxes are too high, killing jobs, hurting families, and putting an especially heavy burden on our most vulnerable people.”

Jenner is famous not only for her Olympic career but also her marriage to Kris Jenner, formerly Kris Kardashian. Jenner is a step-parent to the Kardashian children and parent to reality TV stars Kendall, Kylie, Brody, and Brandon Jenner. Two other Jenner children are less in the spotlight.

Jenner has appeared on the reality TV show about the Jenner-Kardashian family, “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” which aired for 20 seasons, and was the star of her own show “I am Cait,” which aired for two. She published a memoir, “The Secrets of My Life,” in 2017. She appeared on “The Masked Singer” in March.

Jenner made headlines in 2015 after being involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash in Malibu. A 69-year-old woman was killed and several other people were injured. Sheriff’s investigators determined Jenner, who was not injured, was traveling at an unsafe speed for traffic conditions, but prosecutors declined to file charges. Jenner faced at least three lawsuits related to the death and injuries resulting from the crash.

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