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Not a serious candidate?! Caitlyn Jenner accused of bailing out of California governor’s race to film reality TV in Australia

Jenner, who in her previous life as an Olympic decathlete fathered the two youngest stepsisters of the Kardashian brood, has been drawing attention and controversy with her April announcement that she will be challenging California’s Democratic incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom for his job – as a Republican.

However, she seems to have been lured off the campaign trail, according to local Adelaide, Australia tabloid The Advertiser, which announced her arrival in Sydney earlier this week. Jenner must self-quarantine for two weeks before filming begins on Celebrity Big Brother, and the outlet claimed she would be netting $372,500 for the appearance.

While Hollywood leans reliably liberal, Jenner’s conservative views have made her something of a misfit politically, especially after coming out as a trans woman made her a hard sell for right-wing voters. She has claimed it was harder to “come out” as a Republican than it was to come out as a trans woman in 2015.

Indeed, the idea that she might be backing out of the governor’s race already had many snickering that they’d predicted the move.

While some suspected malice, others attributed the move to sheer flakery.

Jenner, however, has insisted that the TV show won’t interfere with her campaign. Insiders told the Advertiser that she had already promised to shoot Celebrity Big Brother before opting to throw her hat into the political ring, adding that she planned to spend just three weeks in Australia – two of which must be spent in quarantine, according to the country’s ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

“I am in this race to win for California, because it is worth fighting for,” Jenner tweeted on Friday, insisting that “my campaign team is in full operation as am I” in the face of a landslide of mocking tweets. A vote to recall Newsom is set for September 14, and Jenner had reportedly planned to spend the month before the vote touring the state by bus to meet voters. The bus tour appears to be still on, as Jenner added she was “preparing to launch a multi-week bus tour” across the state.

Jenner – who plans to run on a “pro-business, pro-police” platform – may have inadvertently made more enemies merely by announcing her participation in the Australian reality show. Australians have bitterly complained over the “special treatment” given celebrities while ordinary residents aren’t allowed to leave their own country (or return to it, if venturing abroad).

“You cannot come to Australia unless you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or in an exempt category. The Department of Home Affairs looks after this entry ban,” according to the Australian government’s Smart Traveller website.

Newsom will be just the second California governor to face a recall election after a Republican-driven campaign for his ouster managed to rake up some 1.7 million signatures, more than enough for the vote to be formally announced. The recall effort was boosted by criticism over Newsom’s sweeping lockdown policies that have since been phased out. There have been mounting concerns, however, that the state might roll out the restrictions once again, especially in light of Los Angeles County this week reintroducing indoor mask mandates regardless of residents’ vaccination status.  

Newsom is facing 58 other candidates as of Friday, including (among the Republicans) former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and construction baron John Cox. Twelve Democrats have also filed to run against him.

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