Republican Recall candidates John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner released their first ads of their respective campaigns on Tuesday, with both candidates attacking Governor Gavin Newsom and state Democrats while also taking wildly different advertising approaches.
John Cox, who lost the 2018 Gubernatorial race to now-Governor Newsom, released an ad titled “Meet the Beast”. In this $5 million ad run, Cox calls himself “the beast” while being constantly flanked by a live bear while he calls Newsom “the beauty” or “pretty boy”.
Cox specifically targeted family ties, highlighting how he never knew his father and started with nothing, while Newsom had House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as an aunt (by marriage) and grew up “at the feet of the multi-billionaire Gettys.” He also went after Newsom’s infamous French Laundry event, in which he attended a $12,000 dinner and ignored many COVID-19 health protocols at the height of the pandemic despite chastising Californians earlier for not doing it.
However, Cox did address many issues, even name-checking Elon Musk at one point in the ad. “California’s falling off a cliff. High taxes, unaffordable costs. Even Elon Musk left,” said Cox in the ad. “We need big, beastly changes in Sacramento. I’ll make them.”
The ad ends with a voiceover saying, “Recall the beauty. Meet the nicest, smartest beast in California, John Cox.”
Yes there's an actual bear to kick off the John Cox campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. pic.twitter.com/4b65fPS0i1
— Karma Dickerson (@karmadfox40) May 4, 2021
The ad also firmly entrenched Cox with an overall bear/beast theme early on in the campaign, as well as giving him more of an attacking approach.
This was even more firmly cemented on Tuesday where Cox’s first two campaign stops include a visit in Sacramento with a live 1,000 pound bear and a stop in Napa County outside the French Laundry restaurant.
Cox ‘the beast,’ Jenner ‘the thoughtful disruptor’
While Cox is labeling himself as “the beast” in ads, former Olympian and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is labeling herself as “the thoughtful disruptor.”
In an ad released Tuesday, Jenner took less attack and more nostalgia approach focusing more on how California lawmakers have destroyed the American dream, while noting the many positives California had going for it in the mid-20th Century.
“Career politicians and their policies have destroyed that dream,” says Jenner in her ad. “It’s been locked away, closed, shuttered, left in the dark, burned down. The government is now involved in every part of our lives. They’ve taken our money, our jobs and our freedom. I came here with a dream 48 years ago to become the greatest athlete in the world. Now I enter a different kind of race, arguably, my most important one yet.”
Jenner also went after Newsom for being an “elitist”, saying that California should fully reopen after disastrous lockdowns last year.
“I want to carry the torch for the parents who had to balance work and their child’s education, for business owners who are forced to shut down, for pastors who are not able to be with their congregation, for the family who lost their home in a fire, for an entire generation of students who lost a year of education,” continued Jenner in her ad.
While the Jenner campaign didn’t say how much the ads cost her campaign, like Cox’s, hinted that more ads are likely soon.
Whoever created this stunning breakout campaign commercial just made Caitlyn Jenner a viable candidate for governor of California. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s hard to disagree with a single sentiment in this video: https://t.co/nzYKT5YjE1 via @YouTube
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 4, 2021
Political campaign experts noted on Tuesday that while both ads served their purpose well, Jenner’s was seen as the more universally appealing.
“Both ads did their homework,” Washington-based political advertisement writer Charles Kiley told the Globe. “But Cox’s was a bit more gimmicky, using that bear like that. I understand the message he is trying to get across, especially with the bear being a prominent symbol of the state, but it kind of looks ridiculous. Memorable, but ridiculous. They actually might nail him on a late night show or John Oliver or something on this at some point.”
“Jenner, in comparison, strikes a nostalgic nerve and did a good job conveying that she wants to bring back the economy and American dream of the past while also building on modern day advances. That being said, Cox did a better job going after Newsom, as he nailed down a lot more points against him, including mentioning his dad’s ties to Getty Oil.”
“But, whatever you think of them, both did go after Newsom and both said that California has had only growing problems under Democratic leadership, either being heavily implied or directly said. They are both really in this race now.”
Other major recall candidates, such as former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, are expected to release their own ads in the near future.