Former Olympic gold medal winner-turned reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner filed paperwork Friday to run for governor of California in a likely recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom later this year.
Jenner is a Republican but has never sought public office. In recent years she has been a vocal advocate for the transgender community after coming out as a trans woman in 2015 and changing her name from Bruce to Caitlyn.
“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,” Jenner said in a statement.
“…I have been a compassionate disruptor 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. Taking on entrenched Sacramento politicians and the special interests that fund them requires a fighter who isn’t afraid to do what is right. I am a proven winner and the only outsider who can put an end to Gavin Newsom’s disastrous time as governor.”
Newsom political adviser Dan Newman issued a statement saying, “We always knew the Republican recall would be a ludicrous circus full of Trump supporters, which only reinforces how much Californians appreciate Governor Newsom’s competent, compassionate, experienced leadership during an unprecedented series of crises.”
Newsom’s campaign quickly circulated a fundraising email, saying Jenner “is working closely with Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager.”
The Los Angeles County Democratic Party also responded to the announcement, writing on Twitter, “You know what — California is worth fighting for, that’s why we’re going to do everything we can to stop this Republican Recall.”
But organizers of the recall effort have focused on Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, criticizing the governor’s lockdown measures as too restrictive.
Jenner latched onto that theme, saying, “Small businesses have been devastated because of the over-restrictive lockdown. An entire generation of children have lost a year of education and have been prevented from going back to school, participating in activities, or socializing with their friends. Taxes are too high, killing jobs, hurting families, and putting an especially heavy burden on our most vulnerable people. 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.”
The recall requires valid signatures from 1,495,709 registered voters, 12% of the 12,464,235 votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Newsom said in March that he expects the recall to qualify for the ballot. He also criticized the need for a special recall election, calling it a “waste of time” and money because the 2022 gubernatorial primary will be a few months later.
The Democratic Party referred to Jenner and other announced Republican candidates, saying they “are set to waste taxpayer time and money.”
The other candidates in the race so far are also Republicans: businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento.
The last time California held a recall election for governor, in 2003, 135 candidates officially ran for the seat held by Democrat Gray Davis. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the race with 48.5% of the vote. Schwarzenegger was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2006.
One of the candidates in that race, retired adult-film actress Mary Carey, has also announced that she will compete in the Newsom recall election.