Celebrities Running for Office in 2021?


Photo Courtesy of Alaska Highway News

Chloe Elie

With the buzzing news that television star and former Olympic-gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner will be running for California governor, there have been lots of mixed thoughts and reactions from the media and the public. 

Caitlyn Jenner, a longtime Republican, will be a challenger to current Democratic governor Gavin Newsom, with her celebrity status, massive name recognition, and wealth. Jenner even harshly criticized Newsom in a statement as well as bad-mouthing Democrats in the state legislature. She also stated “Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision” and “for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people.” A campaign adviser told news site Axios that “Jenner has greater name ID than Newsom and can command the kind of earned media that will go to every possible demographic you could think of”. 

Until 2018, Jenner publicly voiced support for Trump. The public support for the former U.S. President stopped when he rolled back federal guidelines allowing Transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. “My hope in him.. Was misplaced,” she wrote. “Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president.” Despite her criticism of the former president, she assembled a team of prominent GOP operatives such as Tony Fabrizio, the top pollster on Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. In a new poll of California governor candidates, Caitlyn Jenner only received 6% of support. However, 52% said they approved of current governor Gavin Newsom despite efforts to recall him. 

“I think if a celebrity feels they can positively impact their state, then I encourage them. While fame may give someone a platform, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified for the job. From what I’ve read, I feel that Jenner wants to project her views to others more than she wants to better the state”, says Ava Gronemeyer (‘23). “Celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner are so privileged that they don’t understand the real struggles of people and especially if they’re white and economically privileged they won’t understand the issues that working class POC have”, says Audrey Kim (‘23). 

Alongside Jenner, more celebrities have seriously considered running for office in 2021 such as actor Matthew McConaughey. Although McConaughey’s political affiliation is not clear, the actor would be running for Texas governor. While there is no indication that he is either a Republican or Democrat, his past statements on issues such as gun violence and defunding the police can offer some clarity on where he stands. Speaking on defunding the police, McConaughey described “It’s almost like it should have been renamed because ‘defund’ does not sound anything like there’s been money reallocated to different areas of handling some police exercise”. Earlier in the pandemic, McConaughey filmed pro-mask videos and even interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci on his Instagram.