Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican candidate for California governor, lamented on Wednesday that her wealthy friends were leaving the state in droves, recounting the story of one man who decided to pack up his private airplane hangar because he was tired of seeing homeless people.
The remarks from Jenner came in her first major media appearance since announcing her gubernatorial bid last month: a sit-down interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, conducted in Jenner’s own Malibu-area hangar.
“My friends are leaving California,” Jenner said. “Actually, my hangar, the guy across … he was packing up his hangar. I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.’”
“I don’t want to leave,” Jenner added. “Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.”
Jenner’s complaints about her friends’ exodus from California were criticized by some on social media as tone-deaf and unhelpful to her developing campaign. As of Thursday morning, “Sedona” was still trending on Twitter.
The comments also seemingly undercut Republican efforts to portray Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election, as an elite career politician who remains out of touch with the state’s residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenner and other Republicans have particularly sought to highlight Newsom’s attendance last November at a multi-person birthday dinner at California’s upscale French Laundry restaurant, as Newsom was urging constituents to stay home and avoid congregating in groups.
In her interview with Hannity, Jenner also offered praise for former President Donald Trump, describing him as a “disrupter” who “shook the system up” and saying she was “all for the wall” Trump pledged to construct separating the U.S. and Mexico.
Over the past two weeks, however, Jenner largely eschewed public appearances after formally launching her gubernatorial campaign, provoking concerns among state Republicans who were broadly skeptical of her bid.
A notable exception to Jenner’s silence came last weekend, when she announced her opposition to female transgender athletes competing on all-girls school sports teams. “It just isn’t fair, and we have to protect girls sports in our schools,” she told TMZ.
Jenner, a socialite and reality television personality, is herself one of the most high-profile transgender Americans and a former Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete.
In a campaign video introducing herself to California voters on Monday, Jenner showed footage of her athletic achievements and transgender activism, while also flashing images of Newsom, homeless tents and a bin of discarded needles.
“California was once the envy of the world,” Jenner said in the video. “We had what everybody else wanted. The American Dream grew up here. Yet career politicians and their policies have destroyed that dream.”
She also vowed to serve as “a compassionate disrupter” for the state if elected.