Even the support of a few Republican billionaires hasn’t seemed to do much for Caitlyn Jenner’s ongoing attempt to replace Gavin Newsom as California’s governor.
The Olympian-turned-reality-TV personality is already seeing her bumpy campaign fall into debt, according to filings with the state. Having pulled donations of just over $743,000 since announcing her candidacy alongside scores of other Republicans vying for Newsom’s seat in an odd and crowded recall election, Jenner has spent more than $910,000. Her campaign also counts outstanding debts of $156,000 and holds only $21,000 in cash. That’s barely enough to cover a single TV commercial in a local market.
Her last major donation was disclosed last month but was made in May, when David Palmer, the former CEO of Diamond Resorts in Las Vegas, donated the maximum of $32,500 to her campaign. Palmer is now retired and lives in an area of Wyoming that’s become best known as a sort of billionaires’ village.
Around the same time, Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, donated the maximum to her campaign. Although Ellison is usually described as a billionaire who donates to both Republicans and Democrats, since 2014 he has donated almost exclusively to Republican candidates and given millions of dollars to right-wing PACs and causes, donor data shows. His last donation to a Democrat was to Gavin Newsom, giving his 2018 re-election campaign $6,800.
The only other donors to make the maximum donation to Jenner are Angus Mitchell, an L.A. resident and the son of hair stylist and entrepreneur Paul Mitchell, who inherited shares of his father’s company, along with Robert and Renee Parsons. Robert is the founder of GoDaddy and he and his wife, who live in Arizona, each gave Jenner the maximum. Another, Kelly Sellers from Austin, actually requested a refund of her entire maximum donation.
Meanwhile, Jenner has spent a lot of her relatively little campaign money in some seemingly less-than-strategic ways.
The campaign has paid an entity owned by Jenner’s close personal friend Sophia Hutchins over $19,000 for things listed as meetings and security. It cost the campaign nearly $10,000 to fly an unnamed consultant out to California for meetings. It cost $1,300 for Jenner to ride in a limo for meetings around her home base of L.A. A trip for a single meeting in Connecticut cost $3,000. Then she spent almost $700 on herself at the Surfrider, a boutique hotel in Malibu, spending another roughly $1,800 at Nobu in Malibu for a staff meeting. A whopping $25,000 went to the consulting firm of Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary under President George W. Bush, and another $50,000 went to security costs. Brad Parscale, who advised Donald Trump’s failed 2020 reelection campaign, has cost Jenner more than $66,000.
Over the last eight weeks, Jenner’s campaign has only received eight donations of $500 or more and just half are from people who live in California. Given the state of her campaign’s finances and dismal polling, it seems Jenner’s incredibly long shot at becoming governor, despite her name recognition, is doomed. She’s even making sure that reality TV money is still coming in, putting her campaign on hold last month in order to be in Australia filming Celebrity Big Brother. A representative of her campaign could not be reached for comment.
Newsom on the other hand has raised some $40 million to fight the Republican recall effort, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy go for him. In a new poll this week from Survey USA, sponsored by the San Diego Union Tribune and KABC, 51 percent of 1,100 respondents said they favored recalling Newsom. That’s up from 36 percent in favor the same poll found in May.
Among those who said they would vote to replace Newsom, Democratic candidate Kevin Paffrath, who gained notoriety as a YouTuber on real estate and finance, is the lead contender. Twenty-seven percent of those in favor of recall said they would select him as replacement and he’s tracking well with younger voters, latinos and liberals, the poll found. But not far behind is conservative talk radio personality Larry Elder with 23 percent. The poll noted Elder is tracking with Republicans and “strongly among older voters,” a demographic that tends to show up to vote.
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