Interview – Eleanor Rosewater Carnegie

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Written by: Theo Erickson

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As I crunched up Ellie’s empty gravel driveway after walking from the subway, my palms began to sweat. I have met many TikTok stars, but none who are also California’s youngest governor, the record that Eleanor Rosewater Carnegie now holds. I’ve always been a mega Ellie-head, even before her rocketing ascent into California politics. Her approachable, friendly veneer combined with her mean-girl’s-best-friend charisma make her seem too cool for school — and interviews. She welcomed me into her two-story Old Sacramento-style house (she forwent the governor’s mansion), separated from her neighbors by fences, ditches, and six miles of carefully planted forest. I sat across from her in her living room. The flowers on the idyllic table between us were identical to the flowers in a TikTok she’d posted two weeks ago, but they looked daisy-fresh — were they fake, or did she buy identical flowers every week? When I asked, she responded that her mother gave her a green thumb for indoor cut flowers. I ooh-ed and aah-ed for a moment as Ellie looked on, like a ship’s captain gazing at the horizon. I paused in my exaltation to scrutinize her bottomless green eyes. Still waters run deep, I thought. What else was she holding back from me? What made her feel like she had to limit herself in this male-dominated political sphere? Dear reader, my heart ached for an answer.

Ellie, it’s so great to be here. Sorry I’m so sweaty, I walked from the subway. Gas prices, you know.
Definitely. I understand why you wouldn’t want to splurge on transit. Everything else is so expensive these days. But the subway is like six miles away. You walked in this heat? Can I offer you
a towel?

A towel you’ve touched? You know I’ll be keeping this.

Ellie, your approachable image has helped you to connect with your political base. But how did you get your hat into the ring?
Well, I would be remiss not to mention the people who helped me get here — my TikTok fans were a huge driving force, not to mention my parents and their friends, and other connections. But I like to think that my message just resonated with the hardworking people of California. You can’t get here by chance, you know.

“It was through TikTok that I discovered Ohio. I saw the depressing content people were creating there, and my heart told me I had to do everything in my power to help. I want Ohio to give me its tired and poor, its chili-covered masses who yearn for freedom, so that we, the Republic of California, can bring their wretched into the light.”

Not many people are humble like you. But please, tell me more about how your TikTok background informs your political endeavors.
One thing I learned quickly on the internet is that no matter what, someone will always be mad at me. I’ve learned to put myself first — self-care is so important — and to trust my own judgment and feelings. People will try to tear your self-confidence down, and you just can’t let what they say affect you.

Do you think your status as a young woman in politics is a factor in how much heat you get from the haters?
I do get a lot of unsolicited messages, but they’re usually a different kind of steamy [she laughs good-naturedly]. No, I totally understand where my political detractors are coming from. I’m young, and I have fresh new ideas that can be threatening to the status quo, like my plan to bring democracy to Ohio through a series of incisive billboards placed along I-70.

Tell me about that.
People don’t know how hard it is in Ohio. If we can raise awareness about Ohio — how backwater it is, the unemployment rates, the corn — then our hope is that California residents will reach out to the poor citizens of Ohio and spread our great California values of tech startups, access to the ocean, water-consuming agriculture, and high-density housing.

That’s wonderful. I haven’t seen the billboards, since I don’t spend too much time in Ohio — plane tickets, you know — but now I think I’ll email a stranger in Ohio.
That’s the goal. Share the love.

“I’ve visited Disneyland twice. My parents wouldn’t let me go on any of the rides. I’d like to go again someday, but I don’t know if I could handle the rollercoasters.”

I’m sure your family must be proud of you.

Has being such a public figure changed your family relationships at all?
Not at all. I still see them once a year for my mother’s birthday. And my family is accustomed to the public eye. You know, my mom taught me how to ignore paparazzi when I was seven.

You’re such an inspiration to your fans. What advice do you have for women who are trying to break your record as California’s youngest governor?
To be honest, it’s a lot of luck. Luck and understanding the algorithm. You can’t expect to become famous in a day. Sometimes it takes two or three. And the world will always try to limit you. Someday we won’t be able to have a younger youngest governor. And on that day, the glass ceiling will become a steel ceiling.

It’s the truth.

Let’s talk about your personal relationships. You were recently rejected by John Dougherty while you were still dating William Gestalt Kant Hapsburg. Would you like to shed some light on that?
It was a pretty bad period of my life. Three weeks ago I was buying beignets from John at his bakery, and it was just like a movie. We instantly clicked, we started talking, and later I just couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that he knew how to fix a car. I asked him out, and he said no, and that was that. It wasn’t fair to William, I know, but life just takes you on its journey whether you like it or not.

Are you and William still dating?
I’m not sure. We still follow each other’s Instas, and I saw on his story that he was on his yacht in Barbados, so I think he’s still healing.

Just between us, do you still think about John?
Even though it hurts to see him, I can’t resist the beignets from his bakery. There’s something addictive about supporting small businesses.

How do you recenter yourself after something like that?
I’d usually watch Netflix, but William is starring in about 15 Netflix original series, so now I just fly economy class to Ohio and practice gratitude.

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