Story at a glance:

  • There were rumors of her candidacy in late March.
    • She would be the first trans governor in the U.S.
    • A Vanderbilt University professor thinks Jenner will lose due to party identity.

Reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner officially announced her candidacy for California governor

Jenner will compete as a Republican in a potential recall election against incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom, CNN reported. It was highly speculative that the high-profile transgender advocate would run against Newsom.

On Friday, she made a bold introduction, explaining that California is not the same as she remembers it, and that under her leadership, she would make it great again. 

“California has been my home for nearly 50 years. I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality,” wrote Jenner, 71, on Twitter. “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.”

“This isn’t the California we know. This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends,” she wrote.

The comment was a jab at Newsom's French Laundry dinner back in November that received a lot of backlash from the media.

Jenner will likely lose to Gov. Gavin Newsom, says one political science professor.

Assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University Eunji Kim told Changing America that Jenner does not have the celebrity status of a President Trump or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to persuade voters in a hypothetical recall election.

"The fact that she is a Republican, and there are many Republican candidates that will be running for California governor, it will be hard for her to compete," Kim said. 

Kim believes that Jenner will lose in the Republican primary, but she says it will not have much to do with the notion that Republicans would vote for a candidate who is transgender.


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"I think the biggest factors are always party identity, and everything else comes after. Her gender or race comes after the fact she is not a Democrat.”

The Vanderbilt University assistant professor also believes that Jenner's potential run for governor is receiving hype because it is juxtaposed to Schwarzenegger's 2004 candidacy. 

"California is in a different shade of blue now compared to 20 years ago, and the state overall is way more liberal than 20 years ago," Kim explained, stating how Schwarzenegger's celebrity worked back then and how Jenner's would not.

Kim also mentions that there is a certain quality of celebrities that attracts Republicans.

To Republicans, Trump is a successful businessman whose unapologetic demeanor makes him seem more powerful than it appears. 

Schwarzenegger, in his heyday, was the epitome of Western American strength. The early 1980s and late 1990s were Schwarzenegger's golden years in films: he was a soldier, cop and killing machine from the distant future. His real-life is also revered as an A-list celebrity.

Ultimately, Kim believes that Newsom will resume his governorship as this is not the first time petitioners tried to thwart his efforts. As the state begins to reopen, his consistent approval rating, which has been around 40 percent, will only improve when a would-be recall election takes place, said Kim.


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Published on Apr 23, 2021