Op-Ed: The Jenner Dilemma

Written by Phil Mauriello Jr.

Philip Mauriello Jr. is the and host of the California Underground Podcast  you can follow him on Instagram @californiaunderground

Last week Sean Hannity flew to California to sit down with newly announced gubernatorial candidate, Caitlyn Jenner. There were many rumors of her running and they were officially confirmed last week on the cusp of the recall certification. 

I do not believe I need to explain or give any background on Caitlyn, her celebrity and story precedes her, and that may just be one of her glaring problems. 

We all remember how the Governator rose to power in a similar fashion. In a recall election crowded with candidates, his celebrity status was able to buoy him to Governor’s Mansion. It could be the same pathway Caitlyn sees here. 

But the Jenner Dilemma poses a unique problem for California voters in this upcoming recall election. It is no secret her celebrity status gives her campaign a lot of life. As far as I know, no Fox News host has rushed to interview any candidate as fast as they did for her. It is not crazy to think that the ratings for interviewing the first transgender Republican candidate for Governor would be huge, so I could see the rationale for rushing to do so. 

The interview itself though? Not very impressive. 

Caitlyn seemed over excited and unpolished. Not surprising since it was her first major interview as a gubernatorial candidate. I assume she will get tips and advice from many well-paid political consultants and advisers on how to improve for the next interview. This first round was with friendly company in Sean Hannity who threw her mostly softballs to answer. Subsequent rounds might not be so friendly. 

Even with softball questions, her answers seemed pre-written by a focus group. They were general without any specifics of how to actually fix things. She stated that her intention is to surround herself with the smartest people and let them handle the specifics. I hope they are very smart people because the interview itself lacked really any answers on how to fix anything in California. Most of the interview consisted of poking fun at Gavin Newsom and just how bad things are in California. 

We are all aware of the issues with California. We all poke fun and criticize Gavin Newsom for his performance. That is no different than the millions of Californians who signed the recall petition. Your job as a candidate for Governor is to provide solutions and leadership, not comments from the peanut gallery. 

So where does Caitlyn the candidate fit into this race? Is it purely celebrity and desire to stay in the limelight? Does she really have solutions for California? How does the Republican Party that has cheered on the pushback on transgender rights now suddenly cheer on a transgender candidate? Does Caitlyn’s blend of fiscal conservatism with progressive social ideas appeal to Californians across the spectrum or will her support of President Trump ruin it all?

My concern for Caitlyn in this race is her celebrity will suck the air out of the room, leaving other candidates with viable platforms little opportunity to advertise their campaigns. Caitlyn advertises herself as a “compassionate disrupter” and likens her run to President Trump’s. The glaring difference is that Donald Trump had decades of running a billion-dollar empire. While not the same as running the government, the soft skills were there when it came to managing and delegating to the right people. Caitlyn? Well, I am not sure what soft skills she brings to the table. 

In this early stage of the recall, Caitlyn is already becoming more a show than an actual campaign, and that’s saying something considering one of the candidates is travelling the state with a live bear.


Photo via Associated Press