Caitlyn Jenner announces she will run for governor of California

23 April 2021, 22:44 | Updated: 23 April 2021, 22:48

Caitlyn Jenner says she has filed the initial paperwork to run for the post
Caitlyn Jenner says she has filed the initial paperwork to run for the post. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has announced she will run for governor of California.

The former Olympic athlete and transgender rights activist said in statement that she has filed initial paperwork to run for the post.

Current governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is facing a likely recall election this year.

Election officials are reviewing whether a petition has produced enough signatures for this to go ahead.

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Ms Jenner, who will run as a Republican, said in a statement she is "a proven winner" and the only candidate "who can put an end to Gavin Newsom's disastrous time as governor".

"I'm in," she wrote on her website.

"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. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision."

The 71-year-old described herself as "economically conservative, socially progressive" in a People magazine interview last year.

Her run would come nearly two decades after the ascendancy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, another Republican who used his Hollywood fame as a springboard to California's highest office in a 2003 recall election.

Caitlyn Jenner with Kendall Jenner in 2019
Caitlyn Jenner with Kendall Jenner in 2019. Picture: PA

If the recall qualifies for the ballot, as expected, voters would be asked two questions: first, whether Mr Newsom should be removed from office.

The second would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if more than 50% of voters support removing Mr Newsom from office.

It comes amid criticism of Mr Newsom's handling of the pandemic, which closed schools and thousands of businesses.

Several other Republicans have also announced plans to run.

They include former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, former US Representative Doug Ose and businessman John Cox, who lost to Mr Newsom in the 2018 governor's race.

Ms Jenner made headlines in recent years with her ties to former president Donald Trump, who remains widely unpopular in California outside his Republican base.

Mr Trump lost the state to Joe Biden in November by more than five million votes.

Ms Jenner supported Mr Trump in 2016 but later criticised his administration's reversal of a directive on transgender access to public school toilets.

She also criticised Mr Trump after he said transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the US military.