OPINION | fourth estate

To win, she doesn’t need the most votes. She just needs us to keep talking about her.

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

By JACK SHAFER

05/07/2021 04:23 PM EDT

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Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

Why is Caitlyn Jenner running for governor of California? Judging from her Wednesday evening interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, she doesn’t have a whole lot of political insight into the state she wants to lead. So instead of the conventional political questions — like what she wants to do or how California might benefit from a Jenner governorship — it might be smarter to ponder what she stands to gain from her candidacy.

In the modern era, running for office has become a job in itself, one that can pay off in ways that have nothing to do with politics. Mike Huckabee, who ran for president twice, used the increased name recognition to earn a handsome living as a Fox News TV host, a successful book author and a public speaker. Jesse Ventura crossed over from wrestling to political office (governor of Minnesota) and onto a career in TV. Presently, Matthew McConaughey is, his critics say, juicing the sales of his new memoir with strong hints that he’ll run for Texas governor.

Jenner has a long career in the public eye checkered with some financial issues but her most recent occupation, reality-show entertainer, has been a winner. She appeared in “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” from 2007 to 2016. It was a popular, lucrative show. According to TMZ, Jenner and family split a $40 million payout when they re-signed their deal for the “Kardashians” show in 2012 for three seasons (she’s returning for the show’s last season) and also had her own two-season program, “I Am Cait” (2015-16).

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