After weeks of speculation and insinuation, Caitlyn Jenner made it official Friday, announcing she had filed the initial round of paperwork to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom, should ongoing recall efforts against Newsom successfully force a special election.
The former Olympian and reality TV star — as well as one-time fervent Donald Trump supporter — explained she was running as a Republican, with a campaign predicated on her history as "compassionate disruptor" fighting to become an "honest leader with a clear vision." Based on her brief campaign announcement, however, that "clear vision" seemed largely couched in the generic conservative grievances against high taxes and Newsom's coronavirus pandemic response.
In fact, while Jenner doesn't say much in her campaign announcement, or on her newly launched website, the moves she's made behind the scenes speak volumes as to what sort of a campaign she plans to run — to say nothing of what sort of administration she would lead should she win.
According to Axios, Jenner's nascent campaign team includes a number of former Trump-world fixtures, including former Trump administration rapid response director and special assistant to the president Steven Cheung, as well as longtime Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio. She also is reportedly being informally advised by one-time Trump campaign mastermind Brad Parscale, with whom Axios claims Jenner is a personal friend.
Jenner — whose estimated net worth hovers somewhere around the $100 million mark — is just the latest in a long line of celebrities with limited (if any) political experience who are counting on their name recognition to vault them to the forefront of national politics. But if someone with a lot of money and zero legislative experience can win anywhere, it's likely California, where actors like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger first demonstrated that parlaying celebrity into political power is a feasible (if not necessarily good, policy-wise) career path.
Still, Jenner has a long way to go before her goal of governorship is within her reach. Assuming the Recall Newsom effort is successful — which appears increasingly likely, but by no means guaranteed — her name recognition may not be enough to overcome what is almost certainly going to be a crowded field of candidates with significantly more experience at actually running a political race in California.
But now, unfortunately, I guess we're going to have to see how this thing plays out.