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Caitlyn Jenner Announces Run For California Governor

Caitlyn Jenner, seen here speaking at the Women's March LA in January 2020, has announced she is running for governor of California in a recall election that could happen this year.
Chelsea Guglielmino
Getty Images
Caitlyn Jenner, seen here speaking at the Women's March LA in January 2020, has announced she is running for governor of California in a recall election that could happen this year.

Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist with a reality-show family, announced Friday that she will run for governor of California. The state's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, is likely to face a recall election this year.

Jenner, a 71-year-old Republican, said she had filed paperwork to run for the office.

"Californians want better and need better from their politicians," she wrote on Twitter.

"Taking on entrenched Sacramento politicians and the special interests that fund them requires a fighter who isn't afraid to do what is right. I am a proven winner and the only outsider who can put an end to Gavin Newsom's disastrous time as governor."

Jenner criticized Newsom's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has been unpopular with many in the state.

"Small businesses have been devastated because of the over-restrictive lockdown. An entire generation of children have lost a year of education and have been prevented from going back to school, participating in activities, or socializing with their friends," she wrote.

If the recall effort gathers enough signatures to trigger an election, as Newsom says he expects it will, Californians will be asked to cast two votes: whether to remove the governor and to choose a replacement from a list of candidates.

There have been several gubernatorial recall efforts in recent years, but only one reached the signature threshold. In 2003, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced him.

A Politico analysisof Jenner's voting record found that she did not vote in the 2016 election won by former President Donald Trump, and voted only nine times in California's 26 statewide elections since 2000.

The Los Angeles Times notedthat the GOP has not won a statewide election in California since 2006 — but it can take far fewer votes to win the governorship through a recall than a normal election. There can be scores of replacement candidates on the ballot (as there were in 2003); Newsom can't appear on the replacement ballot, and it's possible no prominent Democrat will run. And unlike a regular election, there is no primary.

Though Jenner is among the most prominent transgender people in the U.S., other LGBTQ activists weren't necessarily cheering her entry into the race.

"Caitlyn Jenner has no real support," LGBTQ activist Charlotte Clymer tweeted. "I don't care about her candidacy. I do care about the ways in which her asinine views will be weaponized against trans people and the ways in which transphobia will go unchecked. This is purely a vanity campaign, and it's incredibly selfish."

Jenner won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. Jenner's daughters with Kris Jenner — Kendall and Kylie Jenner — are part of the famous family on the long-running reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians, alongside Kris Jenner's children with the late attorney Robert Kardashian.

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.