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Caitlyn Jenner’s recall campaign goes silent for first week

So far, Caitlyn Jenner has focused most of her efforts at the national level rather than California. | Evan Agostini / Invision / AP, file

OAKLAND – Caitlyn Jenner kicked off her gubernatorial campaign a week ago with a media slap that teased the bold pledge to shake up state policy – and cause big trouble for California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Since then, it’s been the crickets.

The reality TV star and transgender activist hasn’t made a single appearance on television. She did not hold a press conference or social media event. No deployment of the main Republican endorsements. She doesn’t have an issues page on her website, but does offer ways to “donate” and purchase “Caitlyn for California” products.

“If she doesn’t come out and say something in the next few days, I think everyone will move on and say it’s just kind of a crank application,” the veteran consultant said. GOP, Rob Stutzman, who was the former governor’s senior adviser. Arnold Schwarzenegger during his successful recall attempt in 2003.

Jenner is “an outsider now auditioning to lead the nation’s largest state government,” Stutzman added. “You have to give a speech, sit down for interviews – and convince people that you can do it.”

So far, Jenner has focused most of her efforts at the national level rather than California. She launched her candidacy when most California residents were still asleep, initially confirming her run with Axios rather than local media. Fox News announced Thursday that Jenner will sit down with Sean Hannity for an interview that will air on May 5 – nearly two weeks after she said “I am” in the recall election.

The news took a first step beyond the state, but was met with more than a shrug in California, especially within the political establishment. Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak, a veteran campaign columnist in California, said his entry “appears to be a half-baked confection of the Trump-in-exile political operation” and suggested that Jenner was receiving “inordinate attention. “because it plays into the” East Coast Sophists “view of the state.

Jennifer Kerns, former spokesperson for the California Republican Party and now a host of a national radio show with All-American Radio, said it was mysterious that Jenner – the 1976 Olympic gold medalist introduced to a new generation of Americans on the reality hit “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” – didn’t stay relevant every day to the era of social media after entering the race.

“When you run a campaign you have to feed the media and feed the audience… you have a 24/7 media cycle that you have to fuel every day,” Kerns said. be a huge challenge … all recall contestants need to hold people’s attention, now through October … and remember that content is king. “

Case in point: Jenner was almost forgotten on Tuesday when “National Lampoon” actor Randy Quaid said he was “seriously considering” his own race for governor. Quaid, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, was all the rage at the end of the day on Twitter.

Jenner’s campaign so far has the feel of an “Under Construction” sign. Its staff called last week’s entry a phased launch and did not respond to questions on the dossier this week. A source close to the Jenner campaign said she was having private talks and meeting with key Republicans at the state and grassroots level and said she would “stay tuned” next week.

On social media, one of Jenner’s attempts to join the California fray revealed how difficult it is for a political neophyte to tackle state issues. Over the weekend, she criticized what she called “Gavin’s prosecutors” as the source of the crime problems, a charge that immediately drew rejection from Democrats and political insiders because prosecutors in district are elected locally and not appointed by the governor. (Newsom also did not endorse San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, the reformer in question; instead, Newsom supported opponent Suzy Loftus in 2019.)

Meanwhile, Jenner’s entry into the race gave Newsom a new fundraising pitch, and his campaign said he raised $ 300,000 in the first 36 hours after it was announced. Newsom has played a lot on Jenner’s reliance on Trump advisers, including Brad Parscale, who was for a time the director of Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Jenner took it in the wake on Tuesday, say on twitter, “You’re welcome, Gavin! I’m happy to be such a fundraising asset for your team,” adding a laughing emoji.

Kerns, a vocal curator, said Jenner’s closed-door meetings with Republican groups did not put her in front of a larger, more skeptical audience that she needed to convince. She speculates that Jenner’s campaign is “in a bit of chaos” following the reaction to her deployment – and a POLITICO report that she has an irregular voting record.

But “Republicans have to get rid of the idea that you have to be that perfect candidate” because voters will forgive the blunders and ballots if they hear substantive messages from them, she said.

In 2003, Schwarzenegger waited until August to announce on “The Tonight Show” that he would run for governor in the October state recall election that year. Not only did her announcement involve a full interview with talk show host Jay Leno, Schwarzenegger made the rounds right after. Two days later, he spoke about California’s budget deficit, infrastructure issues and education issues on CBS’s “The Early Show”.

The “Terminator” movie star had run a successful campaign initiative the year before to fund after-school programs in California. He also enjoyed his marriage to then-Maria Shriver, a media-savvy television reporter and member of the Kennedy family. Schwarzenegger not only relied on the advice of his Kennedy relatives, but also a team of Sacramento advisers with experience leading campaigns in California and decades of experience in and around the State Capitol.

If Jenner is to follow Schwarzenegger’s path, she must take every opportunity to connect with average voters – and resolve issues that may resonate, Kerns said.

“You can talk to all small business owners and build coalitions of restaurateurs who have been wronged by Gavin’s policies,” she said. On Fox News and other media, “she should do a lot of shows twice a week, talking about the issues, talking about the pain and suffering that Gavin Newsom has inflicted on people.”

Besides fame, Jenner starts with her personal wealth and has a huge social media following – 3.5 million followers on Twitter and nearly 11 million on Instagram. She could leverage these accounts in the same way that Trump and other politicians have done in recent years, although it is not known how many of those followers are California voters or potential donors.

But Newsom is rapidly building up its defense – and enjoying strong favorable political winds for the time being. California has the lowest coronavirus infection rate in the country, and the Covid-19 vaccine is available to anyone 16 years of age and older. Almost all activities have resumed in one form or another, although some – such as schools – remain largely reduced from their normal capacity. Families and friends began to socialize after being fully immunized.

Already a new PPIC survey this week suggests the strongest evidence to date that Newsom is rallying popular support to counter a recall, finding that 59% of likely voters approve of the way Newsom handled the school’s reopening, and an equal share approve of the way it managed jobs and the economy.

This has left more seasoned GOP candidates – former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox and former House Rep. Doug Ose – looking for ways to capture the attention of voters. They remain active on social media and Faulconer regularly makes appearances on national and local TV shows. He won’t comment directly on Jenner but made himself available and said he is planning almost daily events to make his case.

“Look, I think, I think there’s a reason two million Californians signed this recall petition. There is a real sense of urgency to get our state back on track, ” he said. “I think you see a continued increase in anger and frustration from parents across the state who are angry that our public schools haven’t fully reopened yet.”

But Stutzman says all Republicans – including Jenner – had better step up their game, and quickly.

“Since it was announced, the other three Republicans have apparently all fallen from the face of the earth,” Stutzman said. “Obviously, Gavin – as you might expect – is improving … and he had a very good two months changing him up.” Using the office more effectively. governor as a showcase to highlight these positive results. “

“If Republicans are serious, they need to get aggressive and have a lot sharper elbows about Newsom” – or face the possibility of becoming footnotes, he said. “If that was me, I would run my own social media TV show every day.”

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