Caitlyn Jenner, the TV star and Olympic champion, is reportedly considering a run for California governor.
The Axios reporter Jonathan Swan on Tuesday reported that Jenner is working with GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren to explore running against the California governor, Gavin Newsom, in an impending recall election. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times said on Wednesday that former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is advising Jenner on building her team.
The recall campaign against Newsom, a Democrat, is spearheaded by Republicans who opposed the governor’s pandemic-era business shutdowns, as well as his immigration and tax policies.
The campaign said in March it had filed the signatures needed to call an election to remove Newsom from office. If election officials are able to validate at least 1.5m signatures by the end of this month, the state will hold a recall election this year. Voters will choose first whether they want to recall Newsom and then who they would like to replace him.
The recall campaign gained traction amid the previous coronavirus surge, with support from big business donors and a few Silicon Valley venture capitalists. The Republicans currently running against Newsom include the former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer; the conservative activist Mike Cernovich; and John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018 by 23 points. Strategists say that none of these candidates have an easy path to victory in a state that leans heavily Democratic.
Some recall supporters say that a big-name Republican like Jenner would change the dynamics of the race. In the 2003 recall of former California governor Gray Davis, it was the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to run against Davis that helped energize the effort. Schwarzenegger ultimately replaced Davis.
Jenner, a former Olympic medalist who starred in Keeping Up with the Kardashians, has been critical of Donald Trump’s views on trans rights, but has ultimately aligned with the Republican party on many major issues. Wren, who worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign fundraising committee and helped organize the rally that preceded the 6 January Capitol attack, connected with Jenner through a GOP nonprofit focused on LGBT issues, according to Axios.
Democrats in California and in DC have aligned themselves with Newsom. The progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind Newsom, and Kamala Harris – a longtime friend of the California governor – appeared alongside him Monday during her visit to the state and praised him as “a real champion in California and outside of California”.
The governor’s approval rating dropped from an early-pandemic peak, but it remains relatively strong in recent polls. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 56% of likely voters would oppose a recall.