Here’s the latest news today out of California:
At a time when transgender rights have become the new culture war in American politics, Republican Olympian-turned-celebrity Caitlyn Jenner announced a historic campaign Friday to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election.
“As Californians, we face a now-or-never opportunity to fundamentally fix our state before its too late,” Jenner, 71, 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.”
The move comes as vocal segments of her party are pushing dozens of bills to curtail rights for transgender people across the nation.
The effort to recall Newsom is expected to qualify for the ballot soon, with an election in the fall. Other Republicans who are running include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former Rep. Doug Ose and businessman John Cox.
“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,” Ms. Jenner wrote in her announcement. “This will be a campaign of solutions, providing a road map back to prosperity to turn this state around and finally clean up the damage Newsom has done to this state.”
Celebrities running for office is nothing new in California, where voters elected Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the latter in a special recall election in 2003 that ousted Gov. Gray Davis. But Ms. Jenner is a political unknown in the state, where it is notoriously expensive to campaign for statewide office.
No other Democrat has entered the race, and elected Democrats have repeatedly pledged to stick by Mr. Newsom, helping to shore up his support among Latino, Asian and Black voters in particular.
The race would come at a time of steep challenges for California. In addition to the pandemic, the state is likely to face another drought for the second time in less than a decade.
Ms. Jenner chose to run after meeting with several advisers who also worked for former President Donald J. Trump, which could complicate her chances in California. Democrats have repeatedly painted the recall effort as a plan supported largely by far-right extremists. Ms. Jenner supported Mr. Trump early on when he ran for president, but withdrew her support in 2018 after his administration repeatedly attacked transgender rights.
More info on that from Axios:
She's assembled a team of prominent GOP operatives including Tony Fabrizio, the top pollster on Donald Trump's 2016 and 2020 campaigns, Ryan Erwin, founder of RedRock Strategies, and Tyler Deaton, president of Allegiance Strategies.
- She's also hired Steven Cheung, a former Trump White House and campaign communications hand who worked on Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful 2003 recall campaign.
- Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale, a personal friend of Jenner’s, has helped her assemble her team but doesn’t plan to take an official title on the campaign.
- The campaign's website and WinRed donation page are set to go live today.
With California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom about to face a likely recall election, it’s worth asking the question — why?
You might think it’s in part because of his hypocritical night out at the swanky French Laundry restaurant while he was telling Californians to stay inside.
You might also think it’s in part because of frustration over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the related public-health restrictions and the vaccination rollout.
And you’d be right.
But if you look at the actual recall petition that appears poised to have secured enough signatures, there’s no mention of the virus at all.
Instead, that petition — dated on Feb. 20, 2020 — criticizes Newsom with a laundry list of grievances, none having anything to do with the pandemic.
Here’s a taste: “People in this state suffer the highest taxes in our nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result. [Newsom] has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws. He unilaterally overruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty.”
Those sound like the attacks Republicans have been lobbing at Democrats for decades, and they’ve been filing similar recall petitions against Newsom since he took office. But while those previous recall efforts failed, this one is on the verge of making the ballot thanks in no small part to the virus, even if it’s not explicitly mentioned in the official petition.
This all goes to prove one important rule of politics: Timing can be everything.
A majority of likely California voters would keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office if a recall election were held today, according to a new poll conducted as vaccinations in the state increase and the Democratic governor ramps up his campaign to fight the effort to remove him.
Among the 1,174 likely voters surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California, 56% said they oppose the recall and 40% support it, with the remaining undecided. More than three-quarters of likely voters said the worst of the pandemic is over.
The results of the poll, conducted March 14-23, are a reflection of more Californians beginning to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mark Baldassare, president of the institute.
“The support for keeping Gov. Newsom has become much more optimistic about where things are headed with COVID than they were in January,” Baldassare said. “All of these things work to the benefit of keeping the status quo.”
But we should still take this seriously of course. Click here to donate and get involved with Newsom’s campaign.