That's probably because she's polling in the single digits as a Republican candidate in a race that incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is favored to win. But celebrities are always unpredictable bets in today's politics (especially in California), and the former-Olympian-turned-reality-TV-star seems no different: In an interview with us, Jenner didn't rule out that she'd run for governor again, or even the Senate.
Jenner thinks the Republican Party has become too extreme, and she's pointing to her GOP opponent Larry Elder as part of the problem.
“That's one of the things I will continue to fight for in the future: Is the Republican Party being more moderate and more inclusive to people? No matter what happens on this campaign, I will continue that fight,” Jenner told The Early 202. “The Republican Party needs to change and to be honest with you, I'm the poster child for change. A little joke there but it's what they need to do.”
The most high-profile trans figure in national politics might see herself as the GOP's future. But she's way back in the pack of 45 candidates gunning for Newsom's seat, according to recent polling. If more than 50 percent of California voters support recalling Newsom, talk-show host and libertarian Elder, who announced his candidacy on Sean Hannity's show, is the leading Republican to replace him.
Elder has refused to commit to accepting the results of the recall election, opposes abortion rights and vaccine and mask mandates, and has a history of controversial statements on gender and race.
“He was kind of the gift that Democrats needed to attack right now and I feel in a lot of ways that [Elder] has only helped Gavin Newsom with this recall,” said Jenner. “California is really center — maybe center left — and so when Larry got in, we kind of lost that.”
Recall or referendum?
Just how much the California recall can tell us about next year's midterm elections, which historically are referenda on the party in control, is impossible to determine. But Democrats argue that Elder's version of Trumpism won't be any more popular in swing states than it is in California.
“Elder's anti-mask, anti-vaccination mandate, anti-choice – he's out of step with people in California but also with the majority of people in this country,” Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist and director of the University of Southern California's Center for the Political Future, told us. “If the Republican Party continues to go down this road, the issues for 2022 might be real."
Shrum pointed to polling showing almost half of Republicans want someone other than Trump to be their 2024 nominee, but said the GOP primary electorate still nominates candidates “like Elder or [Georgia Senate candidate] Herschel Walker” who “will have a hard time in general elections — especially with suburban women and White college educated voters.”
Democrats running in 2021 have been trying to put Donald Trump on the ballot to energize their voters in an election cycle that typically doesn't bode well for them.
“While midterm elections often are referenda on the party that is in control, it is important for incumbents to force voters reckon with the consequences of voting for the other side,” Geoff Garin, the president of Hart Research, wrote in an email. “Newsom has not run away from his record, but he has made sure that Californians know who is behind the recall and what their agenda is.”
Still, others caution not to read too much into the recall in a heavily blue state where Trump has always been a toxic figure. They instead point to the Virginia gubernatorial race as a more accurate bellwether, where Terry McAuliffe (D) is running against Glenn Youngkin (R).
"I think that both sides will try to spin it but at the end of the day we're all waiting to see what happens in Virginia, if we're being honest with ourselves,” said John Anzalone, one of President Biden's campaign pollsters.
On the Hill
New group (of seven) senators plans to introduce voting rights bill
Deal or deal?: A vote in the Senate on voting rights is coming, and a group of seven Democrats plans to introduce a new bill tackling a variety of issues related to automatic voter registration, voter identification, gerrymandering and public financing, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell last night.
The exact timing of the vote is still TBD, according to a senior Democratic Senate aide, but the working group that includes Merkley along with Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), has crafted a bill that could garner the support of all 50 Democrats.
Sources familiar with the process tell The Early 202 that lawmakers held meetings over recess to hash out a path forward and the group has given Manchin the “space to go to Republicans to see if he can get any support,” per a Democratic Senate aide familiar with the process.
But with or without the support of 10 Republicans needed to advance voting rights, the expectation “is that the bill will move” this month, the aide added. And if it doesn't, then overhauling the filibuster could be on the table (again).
Next steps: “I think if we're not successful in getting 10 Republicans to do the right thing, then we have no choice but to revisit the rules of the Senate … some outdated rules of the Senate. Whether it's abolishing the filibuster as a whole or somehow creating a carve-out or exemption to allow these measures to go forward for the sake of our democracy. It's too important,” Padilla told MSNBC's Medhi Hassan over the weekend.
New October deadline?: “I really believe that we have to, before the month of October is out, we have to get this voting rights legislation done,” Merkley told O'Donnell. “After all, the states around the country are already redistricting with the newest census data, and we need to have time for the states to prepare so the clock is definitely ticking.”
Reality check: “Joe Manchin is not flipping on the filibuster. He believes it's good for the country and the Senate,” Jonathan Kott, former communications director and senior advisor to Manchin, told us.
At the White House
Fauci supports vaccine mandates for airline travel
Will he or won’t he? “President Biden’s surprise order for the Labor Department to issue mandatory vaccine rules for large companies is already facing head winds,” Politico’s Rebecca Rainey reports.
- “Management-side attorneys say they are fielding frenzied calls from companies … Unions have been treading a fine line over the new policy, arguing that workers and labor should have a say in any vaccine mandate policy … And Republican governors Brian Kemp of Georgia and Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota said they plan to challenge the mandate.”
- “All of that underscores how difficult it will be for the administration to quickly implement a sweeping policy that will affect some 80 million private sector workers.”
But these developments haven’t stopped the Biden administration from considering additional mandates. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor and Biden’s chief medical adviser, said in an interview with theSkimm that he supports a vaccine mandate for airline travel.
- Fauci reiterated his support during an interview with our colleague Hannah Sampson Monday.
A summer of catastrophes, visualized: Biden is in Denver today to tout the nation’s most ambitious plan to address climate change — Democrats’s $3.5 trillion budget bill.
- The campaign comes at a time when “record-shattering temperatures in the Pacific Northwest cooked hundreds of people to death in their own homes. Flash floods turned basement apartments into death traps and in one instance ripped twin babies from their father’s arms. Wildfires raged through 5 million acres of tinder-dry forest. Chronic drought pushed federal officials to impose mandatory cuts to Colorado River water for the first time,” our colleagues Sarah Kaplan and Andrew Ba Tran write.
Ella Emhoff, Vice President Harris’s stepdaughter:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.):
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.):