Activist and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is ruling out a run for California governor.
There had been mounting talk in GOP circles in recent days that Jenner, a longtime Republican, would be a strong candidate in the event that there is an election to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. With momentum for the recall growing, top Republicans from California to Washington were abuzz that Jenner was the kind of candidate who — like Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly two decades earlier — was a celebrity figure with the wide appeal needed for a Republican to win in the liberal state.
But on Thursday evening, Jenner’s manager, Sophia Hutchins, moved to swat down the speculation.
“Caitlyn is not running for governor, has never considered running for governor and is very happy doing the work that she is doing to promote LGBT rights and spending time with her 18 grandchildren and 10 children,” Hutchins said in a statement.
It is not the first time the 71-year-old Jenner, who has starred on the hit show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” has been mentioned as a prospective GOP political candidate. In 2017, Jenner said she was considering challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), though Jenner ultimately didn’t run.
Jenner, a former Olympic gold-medalist decathlete who came out in 2015 as transgender, has been a politically active voice in recent years. After supporting former President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, she sharply criticized him for his policies toward the LGBTQ community. In 2018, she penned a Washington Post op-ed in which she argued that the “trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president.”
Jenner’s extended family has also taken a prominent role in politics. Kim Kardashian West, who had been Jenner’s step-daughter prior to Jenner’s divorce from Kris Jenner, worked with Trump on issues related to criminal justice reform.
The last time California had a recall election was in 2003, when then-Gov. Gray Davis was booted from office and replaced by Schwarzenegger, a Republican. Schwarzenegger, a professional bodybuilder and Hollywood actor, initially said that he wouldn’t run for governor but later announced his candidacy on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
The 2003 recall ballot, which featured more than 100 candidates, which aside from Schwazenegger included entertainment figures like the late actor Gary Coleman, the late "Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt and porn star Mary Carey.
With Newsom’s poll numbers dropping, the likelihood of a recall election has gained steam in recent weeks. Organizers say they have gathered 1.4 million signatures and project they will have 1.6 million by the end of the weekend. They must submit 1.5 million valid signatures to the secertary of state’s office.
National Republicans took their first step to invest in the California recall Thursday, with the Republican National Committee announcing plans to invest $250,000 into an effort to qualify the recall for the ballot.
Republican contenders have begun to emerge. John Cox, a wealthy businessman who was soundly defeated by Newsom in 2018, has announced his candidacy, as has former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Trump allies are encouraging Ric Grenell, who served as ambassador to Germany and director of national intelligence in the Trump administration, to run.
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