Amid a crowded field of at least 70 declared candidates, transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner‘s commitment to unseating Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a September recall election is coming under fire following an unexpected departure from the campaign trail.
SFGate reported that Jenner had left the Golden State for the land down-under to tape the reality TV game show Celebrity Big Brother.
According to News.com.au, the trip would require three weeks total, with two of those involving a mandatory coronavirus quarantine.
But the Aussie website tamped down speculation of Jenner’s early departure from the gubernatorial race.
“I am honoring a work commitment that I had made prior to even deciding to run for governor,” Jenner explained. “There is no pause at all on this race to save California!”
Despite criticism—including that of traditional conservatives—that Jenner is running a non-serious campaign to get free attention, the former Olympic medalist’s high-profile candidacy created an immediate splash upon entering the race in April.
But the buzz appeared to have cooled some, with Jenner focusing mainly on a broad-stroked hybrid of Trumpian and Reaganesque pro-America rhetoric that delved little into actual policies.
Just hours before news of the Australia trip broke, Politico reported on Jenner’s having hired a personal film crew to document campaign events.
“The film crew, coupled with Jenner’s lack of specific policy proposals, fueled deeper speculation that [the] campaign is merely a launching pad for a new reality television show,” SFGate reported.
But according to News.com.au, Jenner expected the campaign to continue onward during the Big Brother taping, notwithstanding the physical absence of its candidate.
“My campaign team is in full operation, as am I,” Jenner said.
“I am in this race to win for California, because it is worth fighting for,” Jenner continued. “I have not paused my campaign at all.”
After returning stateside, in fact, Jenner planned “to launch a multi-week bus tour across California.”
One major development in the race that could pose a significant threat to Jenner’s candidacy was the entrance this week of another high-profile, politically viable candidate, Fox News personality Larry Elder.
The nationally syndicated conservative talk-show host does not have the same level of name recognition as Jenner but may be better positioned to use his own soap box to connect with conservatives who value star power but remain wary of Jenner’s qualifications and motives.