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13 August 2021

Caitlyn Jenner starts campaign to be California Governor, but faces questions over motives

13 August 2021

Caitlyn Jenner kicked off a month-long campaign tour on Thursday in her bid to become California’s next governor and raised fresh questions about her motive for entering the contest.

The former Olympian and reality TV personality sidestepped questions about whether she had lined up any lucrative book or TV deals connected to the September recall election that could remove Democratic governor Gavin Newsom from office.

“I’ve never worked so hard for nothing in my life,” Ms Jenner told reporters in the Venice Beach neighbourhood of Los Angeles, after being asked about signing any money-making side ventures. She then steered around a second question about possible deals.

But later in the afternoon, her campaign issued a statement saying “she has not pursued any money-making ventures in connection with the campaign.”

Caitlyn Jenner, left, speaks during a news conference at Venice Beach (Ringo HW Chiu/AP)

Asked why she did not respond when asked about possible side deals in the works, the campaign said: “It’s not a question she was expecting.”

In her first run for office, Ms Jenner has been shadowed by doubts about her intentions and whether she might be running a vanity campaign linked to advancing her entertainment career. She has no background in managing a vast government like California, by itself the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Those questions were fanned by the disclosure that she ducked out of the country after announcing her campaign to film a reality TV program in Australia, which Ms Jenner has said was a previously arranged commitment.

Ms Jenner, who came out as a transgender woman in 2015 and has millions of social media followers, also skipped what so far has been the only candidate debate on August 4. She scratched a planned statewide bus tour, instead opting to fly to events, her campaign said.

Ms Jenner’s motives for her election bid have been called into question (Ringo HW Chiu/AP)

Meanwhile on Thursday, Mr Newsom got a lift from President Joe Biden, who issued a statement urging Californians to oppose the September 14 recall. Mr Newsom “knows how to get the job done because he’s been doing it”, Mr Biden said of his fellow Democrat.

Ms Jenner’s candidacy has been unconventional from the start.

Her initial website was largely devoted to seeking donations and selling campaign merchandise, like hats, T-shirts and wine glasses carrying her name. It took her 77 days to hold her first news conference after announcing she would enter the contest.

Despite her name recognition, she continues to be little more than an asterisk in the polls, and recent fundraising reports revealed her campaign was effectively in debt.

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