Noé Berger / AP
Friday July 9, 2021 | 6:17 p.m.
SACRAMENTO, Calif .– It took Caitlyn Jenner 77 days to hold her first press conference after announcing she would run for Governor of California, and Friday’s event ended in less than 15 minutes, was little precise on the details of the policy and she ignored the details of the polls which showed her lukewarm public support.
Denying her fame as a reality TV personality and former Olympian, the brief encounter with about two dozen reporters took place in a conference room of a nondescript hotel with no visible security. After a two-minute opening statement in which she lamented the state’s high taxes, she answered 10 questions in about 11 minutes, responding with brief responses before the exchange was interrupted by an assistant.
Jenner has said she is a strong contender for the Sept. 14 recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first term and claimed she is leading the pack of Republican candidates, although no independent poll has been done to show it.
“I am here to win,” she said.
She also dismissed criticism of her irregular voting record – “I voted when I needed it” – said she would spend the last month of the campaign on a bus tour of the state and planned to publish his tax returns next week.
Jenner also suggested building desalination plants to produce more water for the drought state, but provided no details on when and where such facilities could be built.
Jenner, who won the Olympic decathlon in 1976 and decades later became a transgender woman, said she was better known than any other GOP candidate and even Newsom. The governor has been in office for over two years and previously served as lieutenant governor and mayor of San Francisco.
“I have a huge advantage, obviously, because of the name recognition,” she said. “To be honest with you, I’ve been in a lot of races in my life and I know how to win. I keep working hard.”
Jenner also ignored polls released last spring that showed she had little public support. However, referring to Berkeley’s IGS poll released on May 11, she incorrectly said it came out in April and was conducted before it entered the race. The poll was conducted from April 29 to May 5, after Jenner announced her candidacy on April 23.
After an initial wave of publicity, Jenner faded from the campaign spotlight as other GOP candidates sought to raise their profile.
These include San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and businessman John Cox, who was beaten by Newsom in 2018. State Congressman Kevin Kiley also entered the race last week, and conservative radio host Larry Elder is considering a run.
Jenner, 71, anchored her campaign in television media interviews, which included embarrassing stumbles that highlighted her inexperience, including recently admitting that she was not very up to date with Newsom’s latest budget.
She seemed to take on the role of a campaign neophyte.
“You have to prepare, you have to improve with the problems, you have to understand the problems,” Jenner said, comparing it to athletic training.
His candidacy drew a backlash from some members and groups of the LGBTQ community, who frequently cited his ties to former President Donald Trump.
Jenner backed Trump in 2016, but then criticized his administration’s overturning of a directive on transgender people’s access to public school toilets. She also split from Trump after saying transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
She said on Friday that she did not want Trump’s approval and had not told him about the campaign.
Meanwhile, Newsom’s lawyers were in court on Friday seeking a ruling that would allow him to list his Democratic Party affiliation on the recall ballot. He sued the Democratic Secretary of State he appointed, Shirley Weber, after Newsom’s campaign failed to file the proper documents to register his party. Those opposed to any changes include Jenner.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles said he would issue a written ruling on Monday after Democratic officials argued Newsom simply missed a harmless filing deadline in February 2020 and that he was in the voters’ interest to know his party affiliation.