OAKLAND — Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has teased the notion of a run for California governor in the anticipated recall election this year, but Los Angeles County records show the Republican did not cast ballots in nearly two-thirds of the elections in which she was eligible to vote since 2000.
Jenner, a 71-year-old political neophyte who has criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom’s performance on social media, did not vote in the 2018 gubernatorial election that delivered Newsom the biggest landslide victory for a non-incumbent since 1930. She also did not vote in the historic 2003 recall that ejected then-Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and brought Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger to power, according to records kept by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.
Jenner never cast a ballot in the 2016 elections won by former President Donald Trump — including the GOP primary that anointed him as the party leader and his nail-biting general election contest against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
All told, Jenner has voted just nine times in California’s 26 statewide elections since 2000, the records show. Seven of those were statewide general elections, including five presidential contests. The two exceptions were the February 2008 presidential primary and the November 2005 special election featuring several ballot measures backed by Schwarzenegger.
California is almost certain to have its second-ever gubernatorial recall this fall after backers submitted more than 2 million signatures by a deadline last month, hundreds of thousands more than required. County elections officials are still verifying petitions, and an updated count is expected soon.
Jenner may announce as early as this week whether she’ll challenge Newsom in a recall election. In a tweet this week, she said, "I am with Californians and will decide soon. I have been here for 45+ years and love CA."
She has met recently with top Republican strategists, including Brad Parscale, who worked as Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign manager before departing last July.
Jenner has backed the recall of Newsom on Twitter, saying she is "very proud of the work that Rescue California has done! Californians are fed up with the lack of leadership in Sacramento and it’s time to #RecallGavin."
A Jenner representative did not respond to requests for comment about her voting record.
Should she enter the gubernatorial race, Jenner would join other high-profile and ambitious political newcomers who have tried to stake a claim in California with poor voting records — including billionaire former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who ran for governor in 2010, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who ran for Senate the same year. Neither were successful in their Republican bids for office.
However, a spotty voting record did not hurt Schwarzenegger. The action-movie star did not participate in five out of 11 statewide elections before the 2003 recall that he won, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that year.
Jenner’s voting record "is in keeping with the tradition that celebrity over participation matters more than anything," David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University.
It also cements the idea "that the recall becomes not a place to move ideas, but a place to move personalities — or move a career."