Former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner announced Friday that she would compete as a Republican in this year’s likely recall election against Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic governor. Jenner, who would be the first transgender person elected statewide anywhere, has not sought office before, though she’s not completely new to politics.
Jenner was a vocal Donald Trump supporter in 2016, although Politico recently reported that she didn’t cast a ballot at all that year; Jenner also did not vote in 2018 when Newsom was elected governor. Jenner insisted in 2017 that, while Trump has “made some mistakes” on LGBTQ issues, she didn’t regret backing him, but she finally acknowledged the following year that she’d been wrong. That public break, however, didn’t stop Jenner from hiring multiple high-level Trump campaign personnel for her bid or accepting help from former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.
In addition to Jenner, the GOP field includes former Rep. Doug Ose, 2018 nominee John Cox, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and could still expand further. Should the recall election qualify for the fall ballot, which almost everyone in California politics expects to happen, voters would be presented with two questions on their ballot. First, they’d be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they’d be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office.
However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term. There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don’t come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.