OAKLAND — Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner told CNN this week that she never voted for president in the November 2020 election and opted to golf instead because she “couldn’t get excited” about the dozen measures on the California ballot. For someone seeking support in the upcoming recall, it was a head-turning statement.
Then came the head-scratcher: Los Angeles County records show she actually did cast a ballot last fall.
POLITICO reported last month that Jenner did not vote in nearly two-thirds of the elections in which she was eligible since 2000. After Jenner’s latest comments to CNN aired Tuesday morning, a representative of the registrar’s office reconfirmed to POLITICO that Jenner voted — with documentation.
The issue arose when CNN’s Dana Bash asked Jenner this week if she had voted for former President Donald Trump in last year’s election. Jenner is relying on former Trump aides for campaign strategy, but she had broken with the Republican president in 2018 over his positions on transgender issues.
“I didn’t even vote,” Jenner told Bash in a wide-ranging interview at her home in Malibu. “Out here in California, it’s like, why vote for a Republican president? It’s just not going to work. I mean, it’s overwhelming.”
But Jenner didn’t stop there. Asked further if she voted on downticket races, she said she did not and suggested she didn’t participate at all.
“It was voting day, and I thought, the only thing out here in California that I worry about, which affects people, is the propositions that were out there,” Jenner said. “And I didn’t see any propositions that I really had one side or the other. And so it was Election Day. And I just couldn’t get excited about it. And I just wound up going to play golf and I said, eh, I’m not doing that.”
California voters considered 12 ballot measures in November during a campaign that set new records for overall spending. Proposals affected the future of cash bail, affirmative action, gig workers, rent control and criminal sentencing, among other topics.
Jenner’s campaign would not comment on the record when asked about the conflicting accounts Tuesday and only spoke on background.
Despite Jenner giving the impression she opted out of the election entirely and played golf on Election Day — and that she only worries about state propositions but chose not to consider those as well — a spokesperson said that Jenner voted on “some local issues.” The spokesperson said Jenner was responding to a question about whom she chose for president in 2020 and said that she didn’t support any candidate.
Jenner’s city of Malibu had a City Council contest and a hotel tax increase measure on the November ballot. Los Angeles County had a competitive district attorney’s race and a measure to direct more county funds to social services.
Her claim to be a non-voter in that seminal 2020 election was baffling for a gubernatorial candidate trying to establish her political credibility, especially since records show she did participate in the contest. And it remains unclear why her statements conflict with the records.
Some political insiders speculated the candidate, speaking off the cuff, may have wanted to distance herself from Trump on CNN. Or that she possibly couldn’t keep her elections straight.
Tim Rosales, a GOP strategist, said he’s heard many candidates over the years claim to have voted when they hadn’t — and got caught because voting records are public.
“But I’ve never heard it the opposite way, where somebody said that I didn’t vote” and they actually did, he said.
“I can imagine, having been on the inside of these types of high profile campaigns, you’ve got a lot of a lot of people scrambling right now,” Rosales added.
A new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows registered voters are opposing the California recall by a margin of 49-35.
But when asked to select a replacement candidate should the recall succeed, registered voters prefer more experienced GOP candidates over Jenner. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox each have 22 percent support from registered voters, while former Rep. Doug Ose has 14 percent. Democrats for now have opted against running a candidate in the free-for-all ballot out of concern that it would detract from overall opposition to the recall.
Jenner, meanwhile, is far behind at 6 percent in the first major poll since she announced her candidacy in late March.
“This is not someone who is serious about public life. If she were, she would know there is record of who votes — and who doesn’t,” said Claremont McKenna College professor Jack Pitney, a former GOP campaign operative. “She hasn’t said anything even remotely sensible. It’s a reality show, and she likes attention. This gets her attention. Mission accomplished.”
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