The Politicus

Newsom and Novelty: Caitlyn Jenner joins in the recall effort

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GOP consultant Tim Miller weighs in on the Newsom recall effort in California.

Someday the political status quo will be disrupted in the Golden State—politics is always in motion. But if somebody tells you the disrupter is  going to be a red-hatted reality-show star (or an obnoxious internet troll turned interim director of national intelligence) well, tell them you’d like some of whatever it is they bought at our local dispensary.

Let me cut to the chase: Any person who supported Donald Trump has failed the entry-level test of political viability for statewide office in California. End of story.

I had some folks push back on this notion on Twitter, citing The Governator’s recall victory in 2003. This might make sense from afar, but doesn’t take into account the changes which have happened in American politics over the last 20 years.

The same demographic changes in the country and the suburban shift towards Democrats that helped the party improve in places like Atlanta are also operative in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and even the Bay Area.

Let me lay out some numbers for you to demonstrate how different of a world we are in today from that of 2003.

In the two presidential races bookending the 2003 recall, George W. Bush lost California by 1.3 million and 1.2 million votes respectively. Not exactly close.

But get this:

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 5.1 million votes.

For a sense of scale here, the gap between Biden and Trump was greater than the entire raw vote total Bush got in California in 2000.

And it’s not just Trump. Gavin Newsom won his race by 3 million votes and just under 24 percentage points in 2018. Back in 2002 Gray Davis won his race by just 400,000 votes and 5 percentage points.

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The big picture: Jenner, a longtime Republican, is seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election, hoping her celebrity status and name recognition can yield an upset in the nation’s most populous state.

  • But in deep-blue California, she’s decidedly not branding herself as a Trump Republican even as she’s counting on some of the former president’s advisers to drive her strategy.

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.

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