Jenner, however, will give Newsom a challenger with name recognition and wealth in a vast state of 40 million people, where candidates often struggle to connect with voters in large and distinct media markets.
She said she has filed paperwork to run for governor but won’t make a “formal announcement” until “the coming weeks.” In a statement, Jenner sharply criticized Newsom as well as Democrats in the state legislature.
“California has been my home for nearly 50 years,” Jenner said in the statement. “I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. But 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.”
Jenner’s Friday announcement was first reported by Axios.
While the recall election has not yet been scheduled, organizers say they submitted hundreds of thousands of signatures more than the minimum needed to force a special election prior to the 2022 midterms, when Newsom was planning to seek a second term.
Jenner, 71, is getting aid from a network of former President Donald Trump’s staffers and consultants. POLITICO has reported that she has been talking with former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and Tony Fabrizio, the former president’s pollster. Axios reported Friday that Steven Cheung, who served as a senior communications adviser for Trump’s unsuccessful reelection campaign, will also join the Jenner effort.
Newsom immediately telegraphed Friday he would highlight Jenner’s ties to Trump figures — a potential liability given the former president’s enduring unpopularity among California voters — to rally his supporters and raise money.
“She is working closely with Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager and the person behind his small-dollar fundraising success,” Newsom said in a Friday morning email to supporters. “So we’re going to need help keeping up with Caitlyn’s personal wealth and ability to raise money from right-wing donors now that she has Trump’s team with her.”
Jenner’s initial statement did not echo many of the top priorities of Trump, who won only 34 percent of the vote in California in the 2020 election. Instead, she called herself “a compassionate disruptor throughout [her] life” and framed her campaign around a post-Covid economic recovery.
“Small businesses have been devastated because of the over-restrictive lockdown,” she said in the statement. “An entire generation of children have lost a year of education and have been prevented from going back to school, participating in activities, or socializing with their friends. Taxes are too high, killing jobs, hurting families, and putting an especially heavy burden on our most vulnerable people.”
Jenner also jabbed at Newsom for a major misstep that gave oxygen to the recall drive in November: his dinner at the French Laundry restaurant as he urged Californians to stay home and avoid gathering in groups.
“This isn’t the California we know. This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes to dinner with his lobbyist friends,” she said.
Recall backers applauded Jenner’s entry into the race. “The campaign to replace Gavin Newsom just entered a new phase,” said Randy Economy, a spokesperson for the recall drive.
Republican strategist Rob Stutzman, who served as an adviser to Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall, said Jenner’s chief impact as a candidate could be significant “because this pushes this recall into the realm of pop culture,” providing shows like Saturday Night Live and late-night comedians with plenty of fodder — “and that is not where Newsom’s people want to run the race.”
Still, Jenner will face significant obstacles to winning election as a Republican. If, as expected, the recall is approved, voters will face a ballot with two questions: whether to remove Newsom from office, and who should replace him. While Jenner’s wealth and celebrity — and a crowded field that could yield a winner with only a plurality of the vote — could help her stand out, the ballot of potential Newsom replacements would only matter if a majority of recall voters chose to remove Newsom on the first question.
When Schwarzenegger ran in the 2003 recall, he had just led a successive initiative campaign the previous year that required California to earmark funds for after-school programs. That effort dovetailed with his previous work as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for President George H.W. Bush and as a co-founder of a nonprofit focused on sports programs for disadvantaged children. The initiative campaign also had the effect of introducing Schwarzenegger to California voters as he was contemplating a run for office.
Jenner has become a voice for transgender rights, but Democrats and other California political players on Friday noted that she has had little involvement with state issues. It is likely that Jenner will try to use that as an asset as an outsider trying to change California government.
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Daniel Ketchell asserted Friday on Twitter that there is little in common between Jenner and Schwarzenegger aside from celebrity. Ketchell suggested Jenner’s move was more reflective of Trump — who arrived with major name recognition, but no political experience.
“Celebrity comparisons are easy until they’re not,” he wrote. “Like Trump and Arnold — both outsiders elected by angry voters. But one passed reforms to bring sanity to the electoral system and bring the anger level down, and one sh– all over the electoral system and ratcheted anger up.”
Stutzman said that Jenner’s entry reprises some of the same issues and angst about celebrity candidates. “When we saw this 18 years ago, there were figures from pop culture that used the recall as a platform to buffet their own fame,” he said.
“We should give her a chance to see if she can articulate a vision for governor before defining this as something to chalk up to a stunt,” Stutzman said. But given her lack of involvement in civic issues and rare commentary on politics, “I don’t think she develops into a serious candidate who has a huge impact on the race.”
California LGBT leaders on Friday greeted Jenner’s entry with heavy skepticism and accusations that she was part of a Trump-backed recall effort.
“It’s a desperate grasp for publicity that would almost be comical if this recall weren’t such a dangerous threat to the health, safety and civil rights of trans Californians,’’ said Samuel Garrett-Pate, spokesperson for Equality California, one of the nation’s largest advocacy groups for the LGBTQ and transgender community. “The Trump Administration spent 4 years attacking the trans community — trans students, patriotic trans servicemembers, trans patients in hospitals and trans people experiencing homelessness. Caitlyn said so herself.”
According to polls, the governor is currently well-positioned to fight off the effort. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last month showed just 40 percent of likely voters would choose to remove Newsom before the end of his term, while 56 percent would vote “no” on the recall.
Jenner is not the only Republican to jump in for the likely recall. Businessman John Cox, whom Newsom defeated easily in 2018, is running again, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is also in the race.
Republican consultant Tim Rosales said it’s too early to determine how she would affect the nascent field of Republican challengers.
“At this point, I think any Republican in the race has as good a shot as anybody else,” said Rosales, who until recently worked for Republican businessman John Cox’s campaign. “I don’t think voters have a particularly strong views or that any of the candidates are particularly well-defined at this point to voters who are considering an alternative to the governor, so I think it’s potentially an open field for any candidate.”
POLITICO reported this week that Jenner did not cast ballots in nearly two-thirds of the elections in which she was eligible to vote since 2000. Though critical of Newsom, she did not vote in the 2018 gubernatorial election in which the Democratic governor had the biggest landslide victory for a non-incumbent since 1930. Nor did she vote in the 2003 gubernatorial recall.
All told, Jenner has voted just nine times in California’s 26 statewide elections since 2000, Los Angeles County records show.
Jeremy B. White contributed to this report.
How Republicans Became the ‘Barstool’ Party
A half-decade ago, the originally Boston-based site and its rabid fan community wouldn’t have scanned as “political” at all. But now, its proudly Neanderthal, reactionary ethos aligns perfectly with the side of our political binary that Trump reconfigured: the one whose common denominator is a tooth-and-nail, middle-finger unwillingness to accept liberal social norms.
If you looked at Portnoy circa 2010 — a budding bro-entrepreneur, popping champagne with models in cheesy photo shoots — you’d have to squint pretty hard to see a potential Republican standard-bearer. If you look now, it’s hard not to. It’s commonplace by now to observe that the Trump presidency “changed everything” for Republicans, from conventional wisdom on policy to how their internal politics are conducted. But first and foremost, it changed the face the party presented to the world. Where onetime nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain tried and failed to subordinate cultural grievance to a more professionalized, inclusive style of politics, Trump succeeded by placing it right on the front of the tin. And when he casually dismantled that old fusion of free-market economic fervor and country-club traditionalism, Barstool was ready.
The rise of the “Barstool Republican,” to coin a phenotype, doesn’t necessarily explain Trump. It is, however, a useful way to understand what’s happened to American politics without constantly invoking the former president’s name. Portnoy’s devotees aren’t MAGA fanatics or Q fans who live to torment liberals, and they’re certainly not part of the GOP’s evangelical base. (One could imagine the last thing they’d want is a Supreme Court that strikes down Roe.) But the Barstool Republican now largely defines the Republican coalition because of his willingness to dispense with his party’s conventional policy wisdom on anything — the social safety net, drug laws, abortion access — as long as it means one thing: he doesn’t have to vote for some snooty Democrat, and, by proxy, the caste of lousy deans that props up the left’s politically-correct cultural regime.
The backlash to liberal domination of pop culture and the past decade’s transformation of speech norms created the Barstool Republican long before Portnoy’s name was bandied about in jest as a political candidate. And if you’ve been paying attention, their cultural revolution dates back to a time when such antics were more likely to get you kicked out of Mar-a-Lago than installed as its lifelong “El Presidente.”
Lost in the annals of a time when culture wars weren’t quite as central to our national politics is a nomenclature that now seems almost quaint: the so-called “South Park Republican.”
As far back as 2001, the gadfly conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan was using the term to describe members of his political tribe who shared the anti-P.C., socially libertarian views of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Stone and Parker, true to form, loudly protested their hatred of both major parties. Still, the label stuck, inspiring sparring New York Times columns and even a book-length exploration of the concept by conservative writer Brian C. Anderson.
In the political climate of the mid-2000s, the concept’s appeal was obvious: As Gen X-ers and younger Baby Boomers entered the ranks of the political elite, it made sense that they would dispense with the blue-blooded stuffiness and social conservatism of the Reagan-Bush imperium in favor of a vaguely countercultural, post-Sixties tolerance. W traded his father’s country-club affect for a pair of cowboy boots, but he wasn’t fooling anyone: The cultural energy in the Republican Party, to the extent that it had any, was in its feather-ruffling libertarian wing, whose influence would soon reach its zenith with the self-proclaimed Ron Paul Revolution. But like so many would-be revolutions, this one was denied — or at least delayed and mutated.
Paul’s 2012 bid to become the Republican Party’s presidential standard-bearer fizzled out in spectacular fashion, failing to convert internet hype into any meaningful primary support. Romney won the nomination and invited the youthful Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan along for the ride (whose rad workout gear and politically inscrutable love of Rage Against the Machine, alas, failed to inspire a Romney-Ryan youth movement).
Crashing on the rocks of both Barack Obama’s megawatt cultural celebrity and the looming coronation of Jeb Bush as the post-“autopsy” face of the GOP, the Rude Republican cohort was at loose ends — until an unlikely salvation came in the form of a 6’3” reality show host and frequent Howard Stern guest descending his golden escalator into the first paragraph of 21st-century American history.
Trump was at first an uneasy fit for both the more culturally-sophisticated, libertarian-leaning members of the Republican coalition as well as their staid religious counterparts. But at the same time he was hotwiring Republican culture and pushing it to the limits of street-legality, anti-P.C. critics saw another revolution happening within liberal politics — and, by the transitive property, pop culture writ large. In their eyes, Hillary Clinton’s campaign represented the triumph of a pro-establishment cultural nanny state that rejected Obama’s attempted de-escalation of the culture wars in favor of a rigid new etiquette of social justice: A rainbow flag hoisted, in effect, over the Bushes’ Kennebunkport compound.
One of Trump’s early adopters articulated the mindset perfectly in August 2015, back when Jeb! was still his closest primary threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”
No points for guessing the author: Dave Portnoy, birthing the Barstool Republican with a single 200-word blog post. Trump transformed the political landscape by tapping into a powerful desire for freedom from criticism or censure — a desire that Portnoy shared, and which has only grown more intense and widespread as the panopticon of social media becomes the primary stage for not just national politics, but civic life at every level.
In a column this February for The Week, the Catholic social conservative writer Matthew Walther referred to “Barstool conservatives” as primarily sharing a “disdain for the language of liberal improvement, the hectoring, schoolmarmish attitude of Democratic politicians and their allies in the media, and, above all, the elevation of risk-aversion to the level of a first-order principle by our professional classes.” In other words: culture-war issues.
Oddly enough, despite the inherent thirst for conflict that it brings, the ascent of Barstool-ism within the Republican Party can be chalked up to ideological diversity within the GOP. What could unite free-market libertarians, revanchist Catholics, Southern evangelicals, and working-class Reagan Democrats but their shared hatred of… actual Democrats?
With that as the party’s guiding principle, and no clear policy agenda to speak of — the 2020 RNC literally did not have a new policy platform — those willing to trash the Democratic cultural regime most loudly and consistently are firmly in command, with more staid Republicans forced to at least provide cover, if not actively follow their cues.
They’re forced to defend freshman North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the face of his attention-seeking tweets and allegations of sexual harassment from his (very recent) college days, while he ranks in the top 10 members of Congress in missed votes. They’re forced to defend Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz as he faces his own allegations of sexual impropriety — not to mention his frat-boy antics, like showing up to Congress in a gas mask in the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. They’re forced to defend Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert as she fends off complaints from constituents about her “embarrassing” freshman term in Congress, after winning a primary and general election largely on the strength of her, well, bar ownership.
So just as anti-P.C., vaguely amoral Barstool-ism can be a strength, it can also be a weakness. In a media environment built to reinforce and intensify one’s ideological beliefs, being on the attack all the time can leave you in an exhausting state of constant defense. Yes, it can galvanize — nearly 75 million people voted to re-elect Donald Trump, the Stoolie-in-chief — but it can also exasperate and infuriate in turn — a record 81 million Americans voted for Trump’s purposely less-pugilistic opponent, Joe Biden. It also runs the risk of all novelty: that people might just bore of it. Yesterday’s provocation becomes today’s status quo, and in turn tomorrow’s epic cringe.
When Republican voters made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016, they chose gloves-off culture war over either Jeb Bush’s earnest compromise or the imitations of a careerist provocateur like Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump tapped into a very real dissatisfaction in the American electorate with the liberal status quo around speech and culture, and reaped both the attendant rewards and backlash. Someone like Dave Portnoy is, if not a viable presidential candidate, at least a credible successor to the role of the office’s last Republican occupant: Trump, Gaetz, Boebert, Cawthorn and their ilk all share Portnoy’s single-minded obsession with scoring headlines and affirming their constituents’ cultural identities at any cost.
In a media-obsessed world, it’s a powerful, intoxicating skill. And now that it’s proven a viable pathway to electoral success, Republicans are — perhaps wisely — clinging to it for dear life. As a creation of Judd Apatow, the 21st century’s great dorm-room comedy auteur, once said: “Pandora doesn’t go back in the box, he only comes out.”
Driver crashes into Florida Pride parade; mayor says 1 dead
News outlets reported that the driver of the pickup truck was taken into custody. Authorities did not immediately give details about the victims or say whether they believe the crash was intentional.
“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis told reporters. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident.”
Photos and video from the scene showed Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade. A spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Spectator Christina Currie told the South Florida SunSentinel that she was with her family at the start of the parade.
“All of a sudden there was a loud revving of a truck and a crash through a fence,” Currie said. “It was definitely an intentional act right across the lanes of traffic.”
Wilton Manors police tweeted Saturday night that the public is not in danger.
“A tragic incident occurred at today’s Stonewall event,” Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton said in a statement, according to WPLG-TV. “Out of respect for everyone involved, the parade has been canceled and a thorough investigation is being conducted.”
June is Pride Month, commemorating the June 1969 police raid targeting gay patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York that led to an uprising of LGBTQ Americans and served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement.
Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency amid low turnout
In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.
Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.
“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.
On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.
“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.
The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.
As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.
Balloting came to a close at 2.a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.
“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”
Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.
But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.
The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.
Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.
If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.
It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.
Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.
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