UPSOUND (English) Caitlyn Jenner, (R) Candidate for California governor:
"Standing ovation for coming out here and not tripping in heels."
Sonoma, California - 23 April 2021
2. SOUNDBITE (English) David McCuan, Sonoma State University political scientist:
"Today, we've seen the first celebrity entrant. Certainly Caitlyn Jenner entering the race is noteworthy, is novel in some ways, but also an indication of what is to come."
ARCHIVE: Los Angeles - 3 October 2015
3. Caitlyn Jenner hugging host at ESPY award show
Sonoma, California - 23 April 2021
4. SOUNDBITE (English) David McCuan, Sonoma State University political scientist:
"And the potential is that given the era of social media, given the easy way to get on the ballot, you could see potentially hundreds of people on the ballot and you could see a number of celebrities."
ARCHIVE: New York - 10 November 2015
5. Caitlyn Jenner arriving at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards
Sonoma, California - 23 April 2021
6. SOUNDBITE (English) David McCuan, Sonoma State University political scientist:
"We don't know her policy positions other than being in opposition to the current governor. B, she hasn't voted frequently. She hasn't weighed in on a number of questions."
Huntington Beach, CA – 23 April 2021
7. SOUNDBITE (English), Kevin Faulconer, (R) candidate for California governor:
"I think we're going to have a lot of candidates that will enter this race. I think that's a reflection on the dissatisfaction of the job that Governor Newsom is doing. I'm looking forward, obviously as we travel this great state, to talk about the work that I did as mayor- the reforms that we brought to San Diego that I think that we need to bring to California."
Union City, California – 15 April 2021
8. California Gov. Gavin Newsom at event
Irvine, California - 23 April 2021
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Anne Dunsmore, Rescue California recall campaign manager:
"She takes it very seriously. I think people will be surprised that that she understands what she understands about the problems that we have here. And I welcome, to be honest with you, the more the merrier. When people respect the problems that we have and the gravitas of the situation we're in, I'm all for it. You want to come and create a circus? I'm not for that. This is a very, very serious time."
Caitlyn Jenner's decision Friday to enter the race for California governor injects a jolt of celebrity into a campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom while raising questions about whether a political newcomer can lead the nation's most populous state as it recovers from the pandemic.
Jenner - an Olympic hero, reality TV personality and longtime Republican - announced "I'm in" on Twitter, joining a growing list of candidates seeking to oust Newsom from office.
Newsom, a first-term Democrat, is facing a likely recall election this year, though officials still are reviewing petition signatures required to qualify the proposal for the ballot. County election officials are required to submit their final signature tallies to the state no later than next Thursday.
The race had failed to attract a nationally recognized contender before the entrance of the 71-year-old Jenner, who won the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics and is widely known from shows "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and the spin-off "I Am Cait" that debuted after she came out as a transgender woman in 2015.
However, she is untested as a candidate and little is known about her positions on critical issues facing the state, from the coronavirus pandemic to managing the economy. She has ties to former President Donald Trump, who remains broadly unpopular in California outside his GOP base, as well as his former political operatives.
Jenner credits herself with advancing the movement for equality. But the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality California said it would oppose her candidacy, citing her ties to Trump and Republicans who have sought to undercut transgender rights around the nation.
She also has faced speculation that she's entering politics to steer attention to her entertainment career.
Still, with her name recognition and ability to attract publicity, she could overshadow other GOP contenders, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose and businessman John Cox, who lost badly to Newsom in the 2018 governor's race.
Hours after Jenner announced she would run, Faulconer took a lightly veiled swipe at her lack of experience in government.
Newsom declined to comment directly on Jenner's candidacy during an event marking the reopening of a section of Highway 1 in Big Sur that collapsed in February. Instead, he pivoted to a rousing defense of his administration, highlighting the state's progress on constructing roads and bridges, vaccinating Californians and building a budget surplus.
But a fundraising appeal from his campaign sent after Jenner's announcement warned that "we're going to need help keeping up with Caitlyn's personal wealth and ability to raise money from right-wing donors, now that she has Trump's team with her."
In a statement, Jenner called herself an outsider, "a proven winner" and the only candidate "who can put an end to Gavin Newsom's disastrous time as governor."
It was notable that her announcement did not include a video, which is commonplace in political campaign kickoffs. Instead, in her written statement, she referred only vaguely to cutting taxes, a "roadmap back to prosperity" and taking on special interests.
Her campaign did not respond to a request for an on-camera interview.
She described herself as "economically conservative, socially progressive" in a People magazine interview last year.
Her run would come nearly two decades after the ascendancy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who used his Hollywood fame as a springboard to California's highest office in a 2003 recall election.
If the recall qualifies as expected for the ballot this year, voters would be asked two questions. First, whether Newsom should be removed from office and second who should replace him.
If a majority says no to recalling Newsom, he stays in office and the votes for the replacements are irrelevant. But if a majority votes to remove him, then whoever among the candidates gets the most votes becomes California governor. With dozens of names expected on the ballot, it's likely a winner would get less than 50% of the votes.
The recall effort largely has been fueled by criticism of Newsom's handling of the pandemic, which shuttered schools and closed thousands of businesses.
He's also been hit by the fallout from a multibillion-dollar fraud scandal at the state unemployment agency while weathering a public shaming for dining out with friends and lobbyists at an exclusive San Francisco Bay Area restaurant last fall, while telling state residents to stay home for safety. Photos showed Newsom without a mask.
However, recent polling has suggested Newsom would hold his seat, and the sour public mood could shift as coronavirus restrictions recede. California also is likely to be the recipient of billions of dollars of federal recovery funds, which Newsom will dispense and could use to his political advantage.
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.
Jenner made headlines in recent years with her ties to Trump, who lost to Joe Biden in the state by over 5 million votes.
Jenner supported Trump in 2016 but later criticized his administration's reversal of a directive on
transgender access to public school bathrooms. She also split with Trump after he said transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.