Caitlyn Jenner has said her rich friends are fleeing California because of homeless people during her first interview since she announced her run for governor.
Jenner regaled a story where she was sitting at her Malibu hangar and a fellow private plane owner told her he was upping sticks from the Golden State.
The man told her he was headed for a new life in Arizona because he ‘can’t take it anymore’ walking down the streets and seeing homeless people.
The 71-year-old gold medal-winning Olympic athlete and reality TV star cited this as a reason she is now running for California governor in the recall race to overthrow Democrat Gavin Newsom.
California has long been in the grips of widespread homelessness, with the highest number of homeless people of all US states.
Last month, LA officials were told they must offer shelter to the more than 4,600 people living on the streets in the infamous Skid Row area by the fall.
Caitlyn Jenner has said her rich friends are fleeing California because of homeless people during her first interview since she announced her run for governor
Jenner regaled a story where she was sitting at her Malibu hangar and a fellow private plane owner told her he was upping sticks from the Golden State. The reality star is seen flying her private plane in California in April
‘My friends are leaving California,’ she told Sean Hannity Wednesday night.
‘At my hangar, the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar.
‘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.’
Jenner said she wants to ‘stay and fight’ for the state rather than join others in the exodus from the state.
‘I don’t want to leave. Either I stay and fight or I get out of here,’ she said.
Despite her conservative stance on homelessness, Jenner shied away from calling herself a Republican in the interview, instead saying she regards herself as a ‘disruptor.’
California has long been ravaged by a homelessness crisis, having the highest number of homeless people of all US states.
The number of people living on the streets has skyrocketed by more than 24 percent in the last two years alone.
A total of 161,548 homeless people were recorded in the state in January 2020, up from 129,972 in January 2018, according to data released by US Department of Housing and Urban Development in March.
A total of 70 percent of these people were considered ‘unsheltered,’ meaning they lived on sidewalks, in tent encampments, abandoned buildings, in cars or anywhere else outdoors.
Los Angeles has long been one of the hardest hit areas with the number of homeless people rising steadily from around 40,000 in 2011.
As of January 2020, there were 66,433 homeless people in Los Angeles county, including 41,290 in the city of Los Angeles, up nearly 14 percent from the previous year.
In downtown LA, almost 5,000 people live in makeshift shanties that line entire blocks in the notorious neighborhood known as Skid Row.
The man told her he was headed for a new life in Arizona because he ‘can’t take it anymore’ walking down the streets and seeing homeless people. A homeless neighborhood in LA
A homeless man on Skid Row in LA in April. California has long had a homelessness crisis with the highest number of homeless people of all US states
Yet this data records the state of affairs prior to the pandemic.
The situation is expected to have drastically worsened since COVID-19 started ravaging the nation as millions of Americans lost their jobs, businesses shuttered and the economy was plunged into a deep recession.
Efforts have been made by state and local officials to tackle the crisis.
Newsom pledged during his campaign for governor to make the crisis a top priority after previous governors largely left the problem to local officials.
In March 2020, he launched Project Roomkey, an initiative that offered shelter for tens of thousands of homeless people during the pandemic.
Advocates said it to helped limit outbreaks among one of the most vulnerable groups of the population while also providing an economic boost to the hospitality industry as otherwise shuttered hotels and motels received custom.
This January, he allocated $1.75 billion in new investments for homeless housing in his 2021 budget proposals.
Now, there are calls to dedicate $4 billion every year for five years to tackle the crisis.
In April, federal Judge David Carter told LA officials they must offer shelter to the more than 4,600 people living in Skid Row by October 18.
The order came in response to an ongoing lawsuit from LA Alliance for Human Rights – a group of downtown business owners and residents – who have accused the city of years of negligence which has allowed homelessness to soar.
Governor Gavin Newsom pledged during his campaign for governor to make the crisis a top priority and set up Project Roomkey last year – an initiative to house homeless people during the pandemic
Jenner (posing with a promo mug for her campaign on Instagram) has not provided any details around how she plans to tackle the crisis or fund her plans as she has vowed to ‘veto any tax increase’
But with rising numbers of homelessness, efforts have so far fallen short.
Jenner has not provided any details around how she plans to tackle the crisis if elected to governor.
Funding for her plans are also unclear as she has vowed to ‘veto any tax increase’.
During the interview, Jenner also hit out at the president, saying Joe Biden ‘scares me’.
‘Biden, I don’t think I’ve agreed with anything,’ she said.
‘I don’t think, since he’s been in there, he has done anything for the American worker, maybe other ones.
‘So, it is a 180-degree turn in our country, going the other direction, and it scares me.’
Hannity asked what her political allegiance was, and Jenner said she saw herself not as a Republican but rather as ‘a thoughtful disrupter’.
She said: ‘I kind of played around with that term, and originally I started out as a compassionate disruptor, and then I was thinking the other day, I think I’m more of a thoughtful disruptor.
‘I have common sense, I see what is going on.
‘I have always been on the Republican side as I have conservative economic values.
‘Socially I have been much more progressive all my life. I get it. People need help.
‘But you can’t have social programs without a strong economy.’
She added: ‘I can get along with everyone. I don’t care if you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, vegetarian.’
Caitlyn Jenner spoke to Sean Hannity on Wednesday night to discuss the race for governor
Jenner, 71, announced on April 23 that she was running for governor
Newsom is facing a recall election, after the 1.495 million-signature threshold on a petition for his recall, launched in February 2020, was easily passed.
The 53-year-old has been governor of the wealthiest and most populous state in the country since January 2019.
Jenner described herself as ‘a fighter’ who wants the best for her state.
In a slick new campaign advert, Jenner described the race as ‘perhaps my most important yet’, and said she wanted to ‘bring back the gold to the Golden State’.
‘I want to take that same fight, that same spirit, go to Sacramento, surround myself with some of the smartest people out there – I am an outsider. I understand that – smartest people out there, because now I’m in a race for solutions.
‘I need to find solutions to be able to turn this state around.
‘I absolutely love this state. I’m a fighter. Always have been.’
She promised to bring ‘compassion, honesty and leadership’ to the role.
In her interview with Hannity, she touched on some of the big ticket issues of her campaign:
CAITYLN ON: FIGHTING AGAINST ‘HYPOCRISY’ OF GAVIN NEWSOM
Jenner, who was born in New York, studied in Iowa and moved to California in 1973, said that she was taking on Newsom because she had been pained to see California’s decline.
‘I’ve watched it crumble, right before my eyes,’ she said.
‘You have to stand up.
‘I knew it would not be easy, I knew it would be tough – but California is worth fighting for.’
She said that Newsom was too close to lobbyists and special interest groups, and attacked him for his ‘hypocrisy’ – most famously eating at celebrated restaurant The French Laundry on November 6, while imploring his state to avoid such gatherings.
‘There is one set of rules for Sacramento, and one for everyone else,’ said Jenner.
She also pointed to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, and a Democrat whose constituency includes San Francisco.
At the end of August she was spotted without a face mask inside a hair salon in the city, while salons were ordered shut due to the pandemic.
‘I can’t go to my hair salon,’ said Jenner. ‘They’re all closed, people are losing money.
‘But they are sneaking in. It’s the hypocrisy.’
CAITYLN ON: BRINGING BACK BUSINESS
Jenner accused Newsom of killing businesses in the state with what she termed an overly-harsh lockdown.
‘He’s been bad on taxes, horrible for business,’ she said.
‘An estimated 18,000 companies are leaving California.’
She told how someone whose jet was in the hangar next to hers announced they had had enough with California, and were moving to Arizona.
The man told her that he was leaving because he could no longer bear to ‘walk down the streets and see the homeless’.
Jenner added: ‘I don’t want to leave. Either I stay and fight, or I get out of here.’
Hannity and Jenner discussed what he described as an ‘exodus’ from the liberal state
Jenner is seen speaking at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 18, 2020
CAITYLN ON: ENDING NEWSOM’S COVID LOCKDOWNS
The reality TV star said that Newsom’s handling of the pandemic had been ‘absolutely horrible’.
‘He has used it as a political tool to control people,’ she said.
‘Thousands of businesses were destroyed, restaurants destroyed.’
Los Angeles County has had more deaths from COVID – 23,942 – and more cases, at 1.23 million, than any other county in the country, according to John Hopkins University data.
The county has also had one of the harshest lockdowns, and Jenner said it was misguided.
‘I don’t blame the federal government for coming down and saying: we’re going to shut this country down quickly. And they did,’ she said.
‘Some states have done well – we did a terrible job.’
She said Florida, by comparison, had handled the pandemic well under their Republican governor, Ron De Santis.
‘Easy example – Florida, Disneyland, opened nine months ago. In California, six days ago,’ she said.
‘We’re talking nine months of it being shut down, when it didn’t have to be.’
CAITYLN ON: SUPPORTING LAW ENFORCEMENT BUT REFORMING MIGRATION AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Jenner said she was in favor of reforming the immigration system, but was opposed to sanctuary cities.
‘I am pro law enforcement, pro border patrol, pro ICE,’ she said.
She told Hannity she was ‘pro illegal immigration’ – until he corrected her.
‘Thanks, Sean – you’ve got my back,’ she laughed.
Jenner spoke to Hannity on Wednesday night for her first interview about her candidacy
Jenner said that she would support resumption of the border wall with Mexico, describing it as a useful tool in stemming migration.
‘I am all for the wall, I would secure the wall,’ she said.
‘We can’t have a state, we can’t have a country without a secure wall.
‘You have two questions here. One is stopping people from coming in illegally into the state.
‘And then the second question is, what do we do with the people that are here? We are a compassionate country, okay? We are a compassionate state.
‘Some help, I mean, some people we’re going to send back, okay, no question about that. But I have met some of the greatest immigrants into our country.’
She said she was ‘100 per cent behind our police force,’ and told Hannity that she liked to show her support when she could.
‘If I’m driving, I give them a thumbs up,’ she said, adding that she frequently thanked them for their service.
She lamented, as a sheriff friend of hers said, that people were no longer signing up to join law enforcement.
‘I would be very tough on rioting. Using as many forces as I could to stop the rioting and protect the citizens and the businesses of this community,’ she said.
CAITYLN ON: RETHINKING ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
Jenner told Hannity of being evacuated from her home during the wildfires this summer, which destroyed some of her neighbors’ houses.
She said she would enforce more forest management, and invest more in early detection of fires.
‘We need an early detection system – I’ve seen so many in Malibu, I’ve lived there for 48 years,’ she said.
‘The biggest thing is to jump on the fires quick, before they get out of control.’
She said that forest management was ‘extremely important’, and supported a controlled burn.
She noted that water security was a significant problem for the state, and suggested scrapping the Los Angeles to San Francisco high-speed train, and replacing it with a billion dollar investment in desalination plants.
California already has 10, a study in 2019 found, and is planning 11 more.
CAITYLN ON: TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
Jenner said that she appreciated Donald Trump for shaking up the system, but disagreed with some of his policies on LGBTQ issues.
She also addressed her role as a transgender icon.
On Saturday, Jenner said she was opposed to trans girls competing in sports teams that match their gender identity – a topic which has become a political flashpoint among conservatives across the country.
‘This is a question of fairness,’ Jenner told TMZ.
‘That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.’
Jenner soon drew backlash from LGBTQ groups and later tweeted: ‘I’m clear about where I stand. It’s an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls’ sports in our schools.’
She told Hannity: ‘We have to stick to the integrity in sports.’
But, pushed on her views, she said: ‘There are more pressing issues in the state of California than that.’
Jenner will take on incumbent Gavin Newsom in the vote, likely held in November
Jenner is seen training for the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics, held in Montreal
The sporting star added that she embraced the idea of her as a role model.
‘For me as a transwoman, I think role models are extremely important for young people,’ she said.
‘Trans issues, people struggle with big time, our suicide rate is nine times higher than the general public.
‘And for me to be a role model, for them, to be out there.
‘I am running for governor of the state of California, who would ever thunk that? We’ve never even had a woman governor.’
When confronted with the fact that some women are mad at her, Jenner replied saying: ‘I move on, I want to be a role model.
‘I think to be a leader, and I think the most important thing as a leader that you can do is your compassion [and] your honesty’.
Several other prominent Republicans have already announced their intention to run.
A frontrunner is Kevin Faulconer, a moderate who was twice elected mayor of San Diego.
Businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom by 24 points in 2018, and former Rep. Doug Ose, who last won an election in 2002, are also running.