Caitlyn Jenner says taking on teachers unions will be easier than Soviet Union

Caitlin Jenner accused Gov. Gavin Newsom of being more preoccupied with helping unions than children

EXCLUSIVE: California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner believes taking on the state’s powerful teachers unions would be a breeze after going up against the former Soviet Union. 

Jenner, who competed against the Soviets at the 1976 Olympic Games and won the gold medal for the decathlon, is one of several candidates vying to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election. 

Caitlyn Jenner, right, a Republican candidate for California governor, is interviewed by co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino, on Fox News Channel's "America's Newsroom" television program, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. 

Caitlyn Jenner, right, a Republican candidate for California governor, is interviewed by co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino, on Fox News Channel's "America's Newsroom" television program, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York.  (AP)

In recent months, the recall campaign gained momentum and gathered enough signatures to qualify for an election amid discontent over Newsom’s handling of the pandemic. In addition to the economic impact of the governor’s COVID-related restrictions, one significant source of public anger has been the prolonged closure of the state’s public schools. 

If I was governor, I would have opened this state up much earlier.

— Caitlyn Jenner

Despite roughly 80% of public school teachers having had at least one dose of the vaccine, teachers unions have been reluctant to have their members return to the classroom for in-person teaching. 

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Jenner slammed Newsom for allowing many schools to remain closed and accused him of being more preoccupied with helping unions than children. 

"If I was governor, I would have opened this state up much earlier," Jenner told Fox News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. "I would have looked at that delicate balance between the science, the economy, and public safety but also put a higher priority on opening the state up." 

FILE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom answers questions from reporters after delivering his revised budget proposal at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif. 

FILE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom answers questions from reporters after delivering his revised budget proposal at a press conference in Sacramento, Calif.  (The Sacramento Bee via AP)

Jenner, 71, had long considered a play for politics before finally announcing her candidacy for California governor in May. Having been in the limelight for decades, Jenner told Fox News she understands the apprehension many people have about celebrities running for public office. 

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Still, she feels that her background has given her the fighter mentality necessary to take on the state’s deeply entrenched Democratic machine. 

"Is it going to be easy? Absolutely, no it is not going to be easy. Was it easy in 1976 going up against the Soviet Union – the biggest athletic political machine that man has ever created? Absolutely no," Jenner said. "Is it going to be easy to go up there in Sacramento and make some serious changes? Absolutely no. It's going to be very difficult. But if I can take on the Soviet Union, I can take on the teachers union to make it better and win for your kids." 

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On the recall ballot, voters would be asked two questions — first, whether the governor should be removed from office. If more than 50% support removing Newsom, the second question would be a list of candidates running to replace the governor.

Political analysts predict the recall election would likely be held later this year. 

Fox News has reached out to Newsom's office with a request for comment.