Caitlyn Jenner considering run for California governor in recall effort
Caitlyn Jenner is considering a run in California's gubernatorial recall election and is set to meet with GOP political advisors next week on any potential next steps, a source confirmed to CBS News.
The former reality TV star and Olympian is getting guidance from Republican fundraiser Caroline Wren, CBS News has confirmed, and Politico and The New York Times reported Brad Parscale is also providing guidance. Politico reported on Thursday that they are set to be at the meeting with Jenner next week at her home in Malibu.
She has also been in contact with Dave Rexrode, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, a Republican source familiar with the talks told CBS News. The RGA does not endorse in primaries.
Her potential entrance in the race comes amid a recall effort against current Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2.1 million signatures are in the process of being verified now, with just under 1.5 million required to trigger a special recall election sometime in the fall.
If the signatures are verified, the ballot will have two questions: One that asks if Newsom should be removed and one on who replaces him if the recall passes. A recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 56% of Californians would not vote to remove Newsom from office.
Jenner's high profile mirrors the celebrity recognition of actor Arnold Schwarzenagger, who ran and won the gubernatorial recall election as a Republican in 2003. But recall expert Joseph Spivak called it a "pale echo" and pointed to the 135 candidates that signed up to run in 2003.
"Anyone could have a chance in a replacement race, especially with the plurality requirement, but I don't see that she has any natural constituency," he said. "We probably should expect many more potential stars looking for a career boost to jump in. All you need is about $4,200 and a dream."
One GOP consultant who worked on Schwarzenegger's campaign in 2003 said Jenner's "name ID alone makes her a serious contender."
"All bets are off in a recall election. A candidate could win with just a fraction of the vote," the consultant said.
Jenner denied a run in February, according to Politico. Her latest retweet in April criticized lockdowns in Los Angeles County and Newsom's pandemic response. Representatives for Jenner did not return requests for comment.
Since coming out as a transgender woman in April 2015, Jenner has been a notable voice in the transgender community. She voted for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election in hopes of helping shape some of his LGBTQ policies but took away her support in 2018. Her potential candidacy comes as state legislature bans on transgender girls from participating in women's sports have become a conservative litmus test.
"The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community," she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
If she decides to run, and wins, she'd become the first transgender governor in U.S. history.
Republican candidates who have already declared in the recall election include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Representative Doug Ose and businessman John Cox. Richard Grennell, former acting Director of National Intelligence under the Trump administration, is also a potential candidate.
Fin Gomez contributed reporting.
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