Caitlyn Jenner's Run for Governor
Updated: Jan 13
Caitlyn Jenner at the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon. Jenner has been an advocate for transgender rights as well as a gold medal decathlete in the Olympics before recently announcing her campaign for governor in California. (Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit/Flickr)
Caitlyn Jenner has declared that she will be running for governor of California, beginning a campaign to recall and replace current California Governor Gavin Newsom. She announced her campaign to the public on Twitter, claiming that Newsom has neglected California and its population. California has been a solidly blue state for years, but Jenner’s base is aligned with the GOP; it goes without saying that flipping California from blue to red may be a difficult feat for her to achieve.
How does a recall work?
A recall works differently than trying to impeach a president, as it takes input straight from the state’s population. California also has a unique recall system ― other states require a reason to recall a governor, but California does not require a specific crime or reason.
In order to recall a governor, a certain number of signatures must be collected from the citizens. In California, the signatures collected must be equivalent to 12 percent of votes in the last election; 1.5 million signatures would be required for Newsom to be recalled. After each signature is collected, county election officials must verify each name to check for legitimacy. After verification, the Secretary of State has 10 days to notify the county election officials if there are an adequate number of signatures or not. The Secretary of State then initiates the “signature withdrawal period,” which is a 30-day period in which any voter may withdraw their name from the recall. Once the withdrawal period is over, counties have another 10 days to notify the state if anyone decides to withdraw.
The conservative push for a recall of Newsom in California might be a fruitless expedition for Jenner, or a triumph for her, Republicans, and transgender communities. However, the only successful recall in California’s history occurred in 2003, when Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Democrat Gray Davis. If Jenner replaces Newsom, it would be a monumental event in California’s political world. In American history, there have only been four successful recalls.
If Jenner is able to recall Newsom, she will be the 22nd Republican governor of California, out of the 40 in Californian history.
Jenner’s Plans for California
While Jenner is facing a Democratic stronghold state, she has her own reasons for running. After announcing her bid, Jenner tweeted, “Californians want better and deserve better from the governor,” which many took as a confirmation that she was running. She added, “For too long, career politicians have over-promised and under-delivered. We need a leader with the vision and resolve to see it through.” Jenner’s plans are primarily focused around economic reforms ― concerns for the homeless crisis and high taxes. In an interview on CBS This Morning, Jenner explained, “We have the highest tax rates in the country. We have a homeless crisis in California. They’re the ones responsible, not me. I’m going in there to fix those things.”
Jenner’s priorities involve low taxes, pro-business policies and help for children to get back into schools. In particular, she has criticized Newsom’s handling of the pandemic, and its effect on children missing much of the last academic year. Jenner has expressed a goal to get children back in school to learn, socialize, and return to activities they love.
In one of her ads, she emphasized the “overbearing” and “overreaching” government as the main cause of people leaving California in large numbers. She stated, “We need less regulations, we need less taxes, we need to compete against the other states that, like Texas, Florida, that are taking our citizens and our businesses away.” Jenner plans to treat Sacramento with more leeway for citizens and businesses, especially smaller businesses which, she claims, Newsom destroyed with COVID-19 regulations.
While Jenner may have relevant plans and popular appeal to small businesses, she must uphold her media presence as well.
The Media's Opinion on Jenner’s Bid
Many LGBTQ+ activists have criticized Jenner as being inconsiderate of transgender people and their struggles. When Jenner first transitioned and came out to the public about her decision, she inspired many others to come out and transition as well. Since then, transgender communities have expressed disappointment, as she did not face the same struggles other transgender people experienced.
A Californian voter said, “It’s really been disappointing to see the extent to which she has not understood why it was so easy for her.” As Jenner grows in social media publicity, transgender communities fear how she will represent them while in the political light. They fear she will represent them wrongly, making them more prone to backlash as well. LGBTQ+ activist Charlotte Clymer tweeted, “Caitlyn Jenner has no real support, I don’t care about her candidacy. I do care about the way in which her asinine views will be weaponized against trans people and the ways in which transphobia will go unchecked. This is purely a vanity campaign, and it’s incredibly selfish.” Holding little to no support from the LGBTQ+ community detracts from Jenner’s support base even more.
An interview with People magazine last year revealed that she is “economically conservative,” yet “socially progressive.” Generally speaking, “economically conservative” refers to support for reduced government spending and lower taxes. However, Jenner’s selling point in the largely blue California is her socially progressive side. Despite her conservative economic views, it is widely known that California is one of the most socially progressive states. Still, appealing to GOP economic values may be a major factor in turning away potential supporters. Though Jenner claims to be “socially progressive,” running as a Republican may put her at a disadvantage.
Jenner was also a substantial supporter of Donald Trump’s initial presidential run. She believed that Trump supported the transgender community, though she eventually withdrew her support. In 2018, Jenner criticized Trump’s ban on transgender military service and his attacks on transgender health care access; she then announced she was “working on fighting back against transphobic conservative policies quietly, through back channels.” Until her recent bid to be governor, the specifics of Jenner’s efforts were unclear.
Surprisingly enough, Newsom’s team is glad for Jenner’s campaign, as support for Newsom’s anti-recall campaign grew after her initial announcement of candidacy. Newsom’s team believes Jenner could make Newsom look more appealing as a governor.
As Jenner makes herself more prominent on social media, she has asked her celebrity family to stay out of her campaign. Her “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” family attracts media wherever they go, so they have been instructed not to respond to questions about her campaign. Regardless of the questions they are asked, Caitlyn has asked them to be redirected back to her.
The Future For California
California has had interesting gubernatorial candidates in the past, but Jenner’s campaign still comes as a surprise. With a recall election likely to occur in the fall, the future of California could be an unpredictable one.
Sources & Further Reading