Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian, reality TV star and transgender activist, said Friday she is running to be governor of California, as a recall of the sitting Democratic governor moves forward.
In a press release posted to Twitter, Jenner, a longtime Republican, said that she’d make a “formal announcement” in the “the coming weeks” and pitched herself as a “compassionate disruptor” who will campaign on “solutions” and “providing a roadmap back to prosperity” for the state.
“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. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision,” Jenner said.
Jenner, the stepparent to the famous reality TV Kardashian clan, had been reportedly considering entering the governor’s race if a petition to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom qualified for the ballot.
Recall organizers have said they collected more than 2 million signatures, well above the 1.5 million needed to meet the state’s threshold to trigger an election. Counties have until the end of the month to verify signatures and report their tallies to state election officials. The state Finance Department will take about 30 days to produce a cost estimate for the election before a legislative panel reviews the findings. Only then would an election date be set.
If a recall formally qualifies for the ballot, voters will be asked two questions: The first would be whether they want to recall Newsom, and the second would be who should replace him. There is no limit to how many people can run, and whoever gets the most votes wins, an open election that allows someone to be elected with only a small plurality.
Jenner could be the first of what many strategists believe will be a long line of celebrity and novelty candidates who could closely mirror those who ran during the 2003 recall in election in California, when adult film star Mary Carey, former child actor Gary Coleman and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt added their names to the list of more than 100 would-be governors.
Action movie hero Arnold Schwarzenegger ultimately won the election with 49 percent of the vote.
Like Schwarzenegger, Jenner’s path to politics has not been conventional.
Jenner first rose to fame as an Olympic medal-winning decathlete in the 1970’s.
Years later, Jenner once again became a household name after marrying into the Kardashian family, and a years-long involvement in the reality show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” documenting their lives. Jenner was married to Kris Jenner, whose children from a previous marriage included Kim and Chloe Kardashian, from 1991 to 2015.
The Jenners’ children were also featured on the show. They include Kendall Jenner, a supermodel, and Kylie, a cosmetics mogul who at one time was among the world’s youngest billionaires.
Jenner announced she is a transgender woman in April 2015. She starred in her own reality TV show, called “I am Cait” in 2016.
Jenner endorsed former President Donald Trump in the 2016 election but later renounced her support, writing in a 2018 Washington Post editorial, “I was wrong.”
“The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president,” she wrote.
Despite her renouncement of Trump, pro-LGBTQ groups were quick to slam Jenner over her entrance into the race Friday, citing her prior support for him.
“Make no mistake: we can’t wait to elect a #trans governor of California. But @Caitlyn_Jenner spent years telling the #LGBTQ+ community to trust Donald Trump. We saw how that turned out,” tweeted Equality California.