SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In her five days as a Republican candidate for California governor, Caitlyn Jenner had a Twitter spat with a Democratic congressman, unveiled a website to sell T-shirts and other campaign swag and posted a photograph of herself with a startup business owner.
But she hasn’t spoken a word in public.
Jenner’s written statement last week that she would enter a likely recall election that could oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom generated international publicity. But so far the political newcomer’s campaign exists in the virtual realm, a string of tweets and vaguely worded posts with no specifics about what she might do if elected.
Jenner, a 71-year-old transgender and former Olympic decathlon gold medalist, has tweeted: “Formal announcement to come soon.” Each day inevitably builds more expectation about her initial appearance, which would give many voters a first glimpse at the reality TV personality through a political lens.
There is a risk if the silence continues too long.
“That will become the first impression, that she doesn’t have anything to say,” said Rob Stutzman, a veteran Republican consultant who advised Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2003 California recall election in which the former bodybuilder claimed the governorship.
“People will move on and become dismissive,” Stutzman warned, noting Jenner must overcome natural skepticism that comes with her first-time candidacy.
“That first impression as a candidate is important, even if they are famous,” he added. “So far, I don’t think she’s made any impression.”