Caitlyn Jenner is running for Governor of California—does she stand a chance?

Lizzie Edmonds
·7-min read
<p>Caitlyn Jenner</p> (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Nederlander)

Caitlyn Jenner

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Nederlander)

With Keeping Up With The Kardashians soon coming to a close after 20 seasons, you’d be forgiven for thinking we might be seeing a little less of the world’s most famous family.

But on Friday, Caitlyn Jenner proved that’s not the case when she announced her bid for governor of California. “I’m in,” she declared on Twitter. “California is worth fighting for.”

She is one of a growing band of Republicans seeking to unseat incumbent California Governor Gavin Newsom, a democrat, whose pandemic response has fuelled demands for a recall. A recall is a way byvoters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before that official’s term has come to an end.

Jenner, 71, said the Democratic governor’s "over-restrictive lockdown" has devastated small business and deprived children of in-class schooling.

"Californians want better and deserve better from their government," Jenner said in a statement posted on social media.

"I am a proven winner and the only outsider who can put an end to Gavin Newsom’s disastrous time as governor," she said.

If successful, Jenner - who was married to Kardashian matriarch and “Momager” Kris between 1991 and 2015 before she came out as transgender - will follow in the footsteps of Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The actor and bodybuilder was the 38th governor of California from 2003 to 2011.

But what does Caitlyn stand for? What is her political background? And what has the response to her bid been? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Caitlyn Jenner?

Before 2015, Caitlyn was known as Bruce, she was born in Mount Kisco, New York, in 1949, and prior to becoming a reality star, Jenner was a US athletics champion who competed at the Olympics in 1972 and 1976.

At the 1976 games in Montreal, Jenner won gold in the decathlon, setting a world record for the event. Following the victory, Jenner began to star on various US television shows including America Alive! and police drama CHiPs in the 1980s.

She married Kris Jenner in 1991, her third wife. She has six biological children - including Kendall and Kylie Jenner with Kris.

She announced she was transitioning in 2015 with an infamous front cover of Vanity Fair which featured the strapline “Call Me Caitlyn”.

Why does Caitlyn Jenner want to run for office?

According to her post on Friday, was compelled to run as she feels the “glimmer of the Golden State [has been] reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people.”

“California has been my home for nearly 50 years,” she wrote. “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.”

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Caitlyn pitched herself as a “compassionate disruptor” who will campaign on “solutions” and “providing a roadmap back to prosperity” for the state.

She is expected to make a “formal announcement” in “coming weeks.”

It is not yet clear if she will run as a republican - she is a registered member of the party - or an independent.

Her bid comes after months of criticism of Newsom, most of which has been led by a conservative group called the California Patriot Coalition. It opposes Newsom’s liberal politics and his policies to lockdown the state during the pandemic. Critics have also attacked the state’s slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Other Republicans in the recall race include businessman John Cox, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and former U.S. Representative Doug Ose.

What was the reaction?

Mixed. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community said they won’t be backing her “vanity campaign” following her announcement.

Caitlyn backed former President Trump in 2016 and although she did not vote for him in 2020 due to his position on transgender issues, some members of the community said they wouldn’t vote for someone so affiliated with anti-LGBTQ policy.

To make matters worse, Caitlyn has reportedly already surrounded herself with a team of former Trump aides including his ex-campaign manager Brad Parscale and Caroline Wren.

Equality California, one of the state’s largest LGBTQ-rights, tweeted: “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. Now she wants us to trust her? Hard pass.”

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Others said they didn’t trust that Caitlyn was running for the right reasons - and insisted her bid was a “vanity campaign.” One social media user wrote: “There have been more than a few vanity campaigns recently, where candidates care more about their (media) popularity than governance.

“I hope the public knows governance isn’t about ‘who you want to have a beer with.’ (But studies have proven otherwise).”

According to TMZ, her son Burt, from her marriage to Chrystie Jenner, and Brandon and Brody, her sons from her marriage to Linda Thompson, “don’t feel she’s qualified for the position.”

They are reportedly “upset she never took the family’s feelings into consideration” before launching her bid.

Meanwhile, her views on prison reform could cause clashes with Kim Kardashian, who in recent years has dedicated her time to campaigning for a number of incarcerated individuals.

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In response to a story about a seven-month-old who was killed by a man who had previously been arrested for domestic violence but then released, Caitlyn tweeted: “Gavin’s District Attorneys across California are releasing dangerous criminals back on to our streets. Enough is enough. #RecallGavin.”

TMZ reports Kardashian was “disappointed” by the tweets. She is a supporter of Newsom‘s approach of rehabilitating those coming out of prison as well as his policies in investing in crime prevention. It has been reported that none of the Kardashian family will lend their support to Caitlyn due to a variety of reasons, including different political views.

However, it’s not all bad news for Caitlyn. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Schwarzenegger said “anyone has a chance because the people are dissatisfied with what’s going on here in California”.

He added: “The key thing about all of this is it doesn’t matter if it’s Caitlyn or anyone else – to have a clear vision of where you want to go, what are the kind of changes you want to make and why are you qualified to become governor.

“That’s what you have to convince the people, all the other stuff is all nonsense because the press will attack you no matter who you are. They attacked me, but then in the end, I won so that was the main thing.”

Terminator star Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said the new governor would have to ring the changes to “straighten out all the mess we’re in right now”.

Does Caitlyn Jenner have any political background?

Caitlyn is famously Republican, but according to Politico, Caitlyn hasn’t been the most politically engaged in recent years. It reports that Los Angeles County records show she did not cast ballots in nearly two-thirds of the elections in which she was eligible to vote since 2000.

Records show she did not vote in the 2018 election where Newsom won the biggest landslide victory for a non-incumbent since 1930.

She also did not vote in the historic 2003 recall that ejected then-Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and brought Schwarzenegger to power, according to records kept by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.