Caitlyn Jenner's first campaign ad strikes a populist note as a "compassionate disruptor"

Caitlyn Jenner's first campaign ad strikes a populist note as a "compassionate disruptor"
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file)

The most famous transgender woman since Renee Richards is running to be the next governor of California. Retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Caitlyn Jenner wants to restore the ‘California dream’ and put an end to elitism. Her populist message sounds like a familiar one.


Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner has been a Republican voter for decades. It is assumed she will run as a Republican. Her campaign released its first ad today. In it, she hits Governor Newsom and other Democrats like Nancy Pelosi who hypocritically supported shutting down California as mitigation of the coronavirus pandemic only to violate public mandates themselves. Video clips from Newsom’s dinner at a restaurant that was supposed to be closed and Pelosi’s trip to the hair salon are included. Newsom and Pelosi are perfect examples of proof that we are not all in this pandemic together. Californians are in the process of trying to recall Governor Newsom. The recall isn’t specifically about Newsom’s handling of the pandemic, though, as it was introduced in February 2020, but it added fuel to the fire.

As you will see, she also includes footage of herself as Bruce the athlete in the campaign ad. She narrates the ad which is part autobiography and part political commentary.

Does the message, in general, sound familiar? Jenner’s working with Brad Parscale, Trump’s former adviser. Jenner voted for Trump in 2016 but not in 2020, due to what she called Trump’s views on transgender people. In the ad she sounds very much like Trump in his political ads – she wants to shake things up as a (compassionate) disruptor. The government is in every part of our lives taking away our freedoms. She wants California to be reopened so businesses can come back and people can get back to work. She wants schools opened and calls politicians ‘elitists’. You get the picture. No more status quo. The ad sounds Reaganesque and Trumpish in its appeal to both Republicans and Democrats.


Newsom is not allowed to run as a candidate for his own replacement. There are several challengers who have already come forward.

Kevin Faulconer, former San Diego Mayor (Republican)
John Cox, businessman (Republican)
Rep. Doug Ose, former California congressman (Republican)
Caitlyn Jenner, former Olympic athlete and transgender celebrity activist (Republican)
Sam Gallucci, pastor and former tech entrepreneur (Republican)
Daniel Mercuri, former candidate for Congress (Republican)
Major Williams, former candidate for Mayor of Pasadena (Republican)
Mando Perez-Serrato, Southern California sporting goods store owner (Democrat)
Mary Carey, former adult film star and 2003 gubernatorial candidate (No Party Preference)
Jeff Hewitt, Riverside County supervisor (Libertarian)

There’s also an array of people who it’s speculated could run. Those include former Acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell; former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; actor Randy Quaid; model Angelyne; and even rapper Kanye West.

She’s obviously running on her celebrity status, her name recognition will give her an edge. Whether or not her transgenderism works against her with voters remains to be seen. Jenner is doing what some celebrities are thinking about doing in the post-Trump era – running for political office. Trump had no experience in political office so they think it isn’t really necessary in order to win an election. Reagan was a celebrity when he ran for Governor of California and began his political career. He did have experience as a union president of the Screen Actors Guild which is political though maybe not as much then as it is now. Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California. Dwight Eisenhower was a well-liked general with no political experience. Al Franken won a Senate seat. Matthew McConaughey is mulling over a run for Governor of Texas.


But Rob Stutzman, a GOP consultant in the state who advised Schwarzenegger’s winning recall campaign, said there are key differences between Jenner and Schwarzenegger, who was then arguably the biggest movie star in the world.

“There’s famous and then there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger famous,” he said, rejecting the idea that Trump had turned voters against celebrities.

“People will say they don’t like celebrity candidates until there’s a celebrity candidate they like,” he said. “A lot of Democrats hated Donald Trump, but they might be pretty enthralled with Matthew McConaughey. … It’s still about winning and likability.”

Much else is also different this time around.

If Jenner goes ahead and runs as a Republican, that will likely be her biggest hurdle since the state has gone to the Democrats. Ironically, while she disagreed with Trump’s approach to the transgender community (minuscule as it is) she does not support transgendered athletes in sports competitions. Today Jenner would not support Renee Richards as the first transgender woman to compete in professional women’s tennis. The leftists are triggered by Jenner stating the fact that biological men competing in women’s sports are not fair competition. She will have to beef up her policy chops, though. She’s already given Beverly Hills Representative Ted Lieu an opportunity to attack her on Twitter.


While Jenner has advocated for transgender people since coming out in 2015 and experience in the business world, it is unclear where she stands on a slew of other policy questions. Indeed, her current website offers only a vague 68-word statement, along with a fundraising portal and online store selling stemless wine glasses and yard signs. (Her campaign says policy plans are coming soon.)

She has already faced backlash after mistakenly suggesting in a tweet that district attorneys in the state were appointed, not elected. (She later said she knew that was the case.)

“Also, do you know how a bill becomes a law?” quipped Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., offering a link to the famous “Schoolhouse Rock” animation. “Do you know what ‘veto’ means? Or ‘budget’?”

We’ll have to wait and see if Jenner hangs in there and pursues a run for governor and if she sparks interest with voters. Being a Kardashian will only take her so far. She is now 71 years old and her Olympic days were long ago.

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David Strom 6:31 PM on November 27, 2023