Caitlyn Jenner has released her first campaign ad since announcing she will run for governor of California, and it really is something.
“California was once the envy of the world...” the ad opens, before segueing to a dark vision of the Golden State. “Yet career politicians, and their policies, have destroyed that dream. It’s been locked away, closed, shuttered, left in the dark, burned down. The government is now involved in every part of our lives. They’ve taken our money, our jobs, and our freedom.”
In the ad, Jenner calls herself a “compassionate disrupter” who is on a mission to “save California.” She says she stands for children who missed a year of school, business owners who had to shut their doors during the lockdown, and “pastors who are not able to be with their congregation.”
“It’s time to reopen our schools, reopen our businesses, reopen the golden gates,” she says, emphasizing her anti-lockdown position. Jenner's position here is odd, since California is already on the path to fully reopening and currently has the lowest COVID infection rate in the nation.
She says she wants to, essentially, make California great again, and that “now is the time to achieve that summit, to be that shining city on a hill,” referencing a phrase made famous by late Republican president Ronald Reagan, who was president during the AIDS epidemic, which he famously ignored.
While other politicians have also used the phrase “shining city on a hill,” it’s most associated with Reagan. He first used the phrase in his 1980 election eve address, “A Vision for America” where he laid out his vision for a conservative, Christian-based nation. He used the phrase several more times, including in his 1989 farewell speech to the nation.
Jenner is clearly trying to position herself as a Reagan for the new era: a Hollywood star who understands “normal” Californians and isn’t a Washington insider. However, we all know how the Reagan years were for LGBTQ+ people, and referencing him in a political speech is a strange move for a trans woman.
Jenner filed paperwork to run for governor in late April, as efforts to recall current Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom were gaining steam. While Jenner claims to be running as neither a Democrat or a Republican in the ad, she’s been a longtime Republican and even supported Trump in his 2016 run for president, and is registered as a Republican.
While this is her first official ad, it’s not the first political message Jenner has sent since announcing she’s running for governor. When she was shopping in Malibu over the weekend, a TMZ reporter asked her what her stance was on trans girls in sports.
"This is a question of fairness,” Jenner replied. “That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school. It just isn't fair and we have to protect girls' sports." This claim has been refuted by scientists, but still is a main talking point for Republicans and the Far Right.
A date for the recall election has not been set, but it will likely take place this fall.