The Olympic gold medalist and transgender rights activist is a longtime Republican and joins a crowded field of conservatives hoping to unseat Newsom, who has been the state’s Democratic governor for the past two years. The petition signatures calling for a recall election are still being verified by California election officials, but if it passes, an election would be held “no earlier than Nov. 2 and as late as Nov. 30,” according to a timetable from the Los Angeles Times.
The 71-year-old Jenner famously voted for Donald Trump in 2016, citing the then-presidential candidate’s claims that he would help the transgender community. Two years later, Jenner issued a mea culpa in a Washington Post op-ed, saying that she was wrong and that “believing that I could work with Trump and his administration to support our community was a mistake.”
Despite this admission, much of her initial advisory team includes supporting Trump characters, according to Axios, such as former campaign manager Brad Parscale (“a personal friend of Jenner’s”), who has helped construct her campaign crew.
“Californians want better and deserve better from their governor,” Jenner said in her statement. “For too long, career politicians have over-promised and under-delivered.”
The former Olympian will hope to employ the same outsider tack that propelled Trump to the presidency and Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California governor’s mansion in a 2003 recall election.
Beyond Jenner’s activism, her most recent time in the spotlight came by way of her marriage to Kris Jenner and her role in building the Kardashian family empire. The blended family was the focus of their own show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which led to breathless media and tabloid coverage. Shortly after Kris filed for divorce from Caitlyn in 2014 — which was also documented on the show — Caitlyn came out as a trans woman and launched her own short-lived reality series, “I Am Cait.”
In her announcement of intention, Jenner zeroed in on Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including mask mandates and the opening of schools. “This isn’t the California we know,” Jenner wrote. “This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends.”
Jenner cited these issues, as well as high taxes, as part of her reason for running. She told People in June that she identifies as “economically conservative, socially progressive.”
The odds of Jenner or any of her Republican opponents unseating Newsom are low. A recent public opinion poll of the Democratic stronghold said that 56 percent of those polled would vote no on removing the current governor.