Caitlyn Jenner announces she will run for California governor as a Republican

by Trinity Bland, Opinion Editor

Former Olympian, reality TV star and transgender woman Caitlyn Jenner has announced she plans to run for governor of California in the recall election to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Recall organizers have enough valid signatures, far exceeding the 1.5 million required by the state to activate a recall election. More than 2 million signatures were submitted and county elections officials have until Thursday, April 29, to issue a final report on signatures. There is then a 30-business day window for voters to request their signatures to be removed from the recall petition. More than 130,000 removals would be needed to prevent the recall.

After California’s Department of Finance review election costs in addition to another layer of certification from the Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis will set a date for a special recall election, likely to take place sometime in the fall.

“Voters signed recall petitions because California is on the wrong track,” California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan stated, adding that Newsom “earned this recall, and we look forward to helping him into early retirement later this fall.”

In a fundraising email to supporters on Monday night, Newsom acknowledged that the recall had received the necessary signatures. According to organizers, more than 100,000 Californians have donated to the recall campaign. Newsom raised $300,000 in the 36 hours after Jenner filed paperwork last week to enter the race.

If a recall formally qualifies for the ballot, voters will be asked two questions: The first would be whether they want to recall Newsom and the second would be who should replace him. The effort to recall Newsom is expected to qualify for the ballot soon with an election in the fall. 

In addition to Jenner, other Republicans who are running include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Representative Doug Ose and businessman John Cox.

Jenner, a longtime Republican and California resident for nearly 50 years, said in a press release posted on Twitter that she would make a “formal announcement” in the coming weeks and pitched herself as a “compassionate disruptor” who will campaign on “solutions” and “providing a roadmap back to prosperity” for the Golden state.

Though transgender politicians have been elected to office in recent years – most notably Democrats Sarah McBride, a Delaware state senator, in 2020, and Danica Roem, a Virginia lawmaker, in 2017 – Jenner is the most prominent to try, as she seeks one of the most powerful offices in the country, making it historic.

The former Olympian’s campaign appears to be in response to dozens of efforts across the country aimed at denying transgender rights, such as prohibiting transgender students from playing on girls sports’ teams and classifying hormone therapy as child abuse. These initiatives were spearheaded by former President Trump and his administration, as well as Republican lawmakers across the country, as part of a strategy that some believe will benefit the GOP in next year’s midterm elections.

Pro-LGBTQ groups were quick to slam Jenner over her entrance into the race, citing her prior support for Trump. Jenner endorsed President Trump during the 2016 presidential election but later rescinded her support, writing in a 2018 Washington Post editorial that received mixed reviews from the transgender community, “I was wrong.”

“The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president,” she wrote. “My hope in him – in them – was misplaced, and I cannot support anyone who is working against our community.” 

Jenner’s editorial came less than a week after The New York Times reported on a leaked draft memo from the Trump administration proposing redefining gender to mean an unchangeable biological condition determined by anatomy at birth.

The activist has long faced criticism for her support of the president and other conservative Republicans, like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In 2016, Jenner said she liked Cruz and would like to serve as his “trans ambassador” if he were elected president. She also visited Cleveland during the Republican National Convention in 2016, where she attended a GOP event and said, “It was easy to come out as trans. It was hard to come out as Republican.” 

Jenner, on the other hand, could be the first in a long line of celebrity candidates who, according to many strategists, will closely resemble those who ran in California’s 2003 recall election, when adult film star Mary Carey, former child actor Gary Coleman and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt added their names to a list of more than 100 would-be governors. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger ultimately won the election with 49% of the vote.

Like Schwarzenegger, Jenner’s path to politics has been unconventional. She first rose to fame as an Olympic medal-winning decathlete in the 1970s and years later, became a household name after marrying into the Kardashian family, starring in their renowned reality show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” that documented their lives. 

Jenner starred in her own reality TV show called “I am Cait” in 2016 after revealing in April 2015 that she is a transgender woman.

For more information about why Jenner is running visit her website, caitlynjenner.com

 

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