September 17, 2021

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Caitlyn Jenner announces run for governor in Gavin Newsom recall race – San Francisco Chronicle

3 min read

The California recall campaign got its first celebrity entry Friday when reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner announced she is running for governor.

The 71-year-old former Olympic gold medalist and star of the Kardashian family reality TV empire made her campaign for governor official with the unveiling of a campaign website, complete with merchandise shop, and donation platform on the Republican fundraising site WinRed.

“I’m in! California is worth fighting for,” Jenner tweeted.

In her campaign announcement, the Republican highlighted her 50 years of living in California and bashed the state’s “one-party rule” by Democrats, saying it promotes special interests over Californians.

She also took a shot at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s management of the state during the coronavirus pandemic, attacking lockdowns and the Democrat’s infamous dinner at the French Laundry restaurant that violated his own guidance to California households.

“This isn’t the California we know,” Jenner said. “This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends.”

Newsom political adviser Dan Newman disparaged Jenner’s candidacy and highlighted her links to former President Donald Trump. Jenner is working with Trump’s former campaign manager, but has criticized Trump himself.

“We always knew the Republican recall would be a ludicrous circus full of Trump supporters, which only reinforces how much Californians appreciate Gov. Newsom’s competent, compassionate, experienced leadership during an unprecedented series of crises,” Newman said in a statement.

The campaign to recall Newsom has not officially qualified for the ballot, but both sides expect it to. Elections officials are sifting through petitions submitted by proponents to see if they contain the required 1.5 million valid signatures of registered voters. Proponents say they submitted about 2.1 million signatures total.

An election likely would be held in November. It would consist of two questions: Should Newsom be recalled, and who should replace him? Newsom could not run as a candidate to replace himself.

Recalling Newsom would require a majority vote, but then the leading vote-getter among the replacements would win regardless of their percentage of the vote. When Jenner’s celebrity predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger won the governorship in the 2003 recall of Gray Davis, he got 48% of the vote.

Jenner is not alone in the Republican field looking to capitalize on pandemic angst to topple Newsom.

Republicans already running as replacement candidates include San Diego-area businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in the 2018 governor’s race; former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; and former Central Valley Rep. Doug Ose.

Democrats have thus far avoided running a replacement candidate as insurance should Newsom lose, believing that doing so could confuse voters and dilute Democratic support for Newsom against the recall.

Jenner’s website is built using a platform developed by former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

In 2016, Jenner supported Trump and expressed optimism that the Republican Party could be more supportive of LGBTQ Americans. During his presidential campaign, Trump made news when he said Jenner, who is transgender, could use any bathroom she chooses in Trump Tower.

But in 2018, Jenner revoked that support, writing an opinion piece decrying policies from Trump that she said “relentlessly attacked” the trans community. If elected, she would be the first transgender governor in U.S. history.

Tal Kopan is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent. Email: tal.kopan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @talkopan

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