After making several appearances on national news shows to discuss her decision to run for governor of California, recall candidate Caitlyn Jenner for the first time Friday held a press conference about her campaign. She fended off questions about her voting record and lagging position among a growing group of Republican hopefuls in the race to recall and replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Jenner was in Sacramento to attend a court hearing over whether Newsom should be allowed to have his Democratic Party affiliation listed on the recall ballot. Newsom is suing the Secretary of State to get his party listed on the ballot after an initial paperwork error in early 2020 did not include it.
The 71-year-old reality TV star and current recall candidate said she filed as an intervening party in the lawsuit to ensure Secretary of State Shirley Weber — who was appointed by Newsom earlier this year — “doesn't fold, [that] she actually does her job.”
“This litigation shows once again that Gavin Newsom believes the rules – even the rules that he signs into law – do not apply to him,” Jenner’s court filing states.
The decorated Olympic decathlete, who later came out as a transgender woman, described herself as economically conservative and “an inclusive Republican” while hinting that the GOP could do more on LGBTQ issues.
“I hope the Republican Party comes to me and becomes more inclusive, and hopefully I can be part of that process,” she said.
While she has previously supported former President Donald Trump, she said she does not want his endorsement in the recall. Jenner has recently distanced herself from Trump over his policies on transgender issues.
“I have not spoken to him,” she said of the former president. “Honestly, I'm more concerned about just running for governor.”
Jenner did not present concrete policy proposals during her 15-minute press conference, but said taxes, business regulations and the cost of living have all spun out of control in California.
“Too many people are leaving, companies are leaving,” she said. “They all left because it's just not a good place to do business here any longer. ... The state has to change.”
She said rather than spending billions of dollars on a high-speed rail project, the state should reallocate funds to possible drought solutions such as desalinating ocean water, a costly alternative to fresh water that advocates say would have negative environmental impacts.
While Jenner is known nationally, she lags in polls behind other GOP candidates like former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox.
A May poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies showed just 6% of voters said they were inclined to support her, compared to 22% each for Cox and Faulconer.
But Jenner pushed back on those numbers, pointing out the poll was conducted before she announced her candidacy. The poll was released in May, a week after she announced her run.
“People are learning more about me as we go through this process about my political beliefs and how I would govern. So no, honestly, I'm not concerned about the polling,” she said. “I've been in a lot of races in my life, and I know how to win.”
Jenner said she would release several years of her tax returns next week, as required by California election law.
While she is inserting herself into an election law court fight, Jenner herself holds a spotty voting record. According to Politico, she has only voted in about a third of elections since 2000.
But she defended her voting history: “I vote like probably most all California voters. Sometimes there's issues that I want to vote on. Sometimes there's not.”
Leading up to the September 14 recall, she teased a month-long bus tour around the state.
“I want to meet with the people. My campaign and my candidacy to run for this is about the people,” she said “I don't owe anybody [in the State Capitol] a favor.”
In the meantime, Jenner said she will be attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this weekend in Dallas.
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