Caitlyn Jenner heads to Australia as recall campaign intensifies in California

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SACRAMENTO — California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner has flown to Australia just two months before the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a crucial stretch in which candidates are buying airtime and campaigning before mail balloting starts next month.

A spokesperson for Jenner's campaign confirmed the trip abroad with POLITICO after Australian tabloids reported that she was in Sydney to appear on "Big Brother VIP."

"I am honoring a work commitment that I had made prior to even deciding to run for governor. There is no pause at all on this race to save CA!" Jenner said on Twitter Friday.

Jenner's spokesperson said Friday that she will be back in time to campaign across California on a "bus tour" ahead of the Sept. 14 contest.

But it's unclear exactly how long Jenner will be in Australia, which has imposed much tighter restrictions than California and the U.S. as the country tries to contain outbreaks due to the Delta variant. Sydney remains under a lockdown until at least July 30. Jenner's arrival has angered some Australians, according to media reports, because the country has strictly capped the number of citizens who can return home due to Covid-19 concerns.

The former Olympian has railed against restrictions in California and made that argument part of her case against Newsom. "Draconian lockdowns didn’t work before and won’t now! When will the politicians get it?!" she said June 29 on Twitter about a Los Angeles County mask recommendation.

Jenner took to Twitter to respond to questions about whether the trip meant she was ending her bid for governor. The trip could reportedly last a month because of quarantine requirements and taping.

"My campaign team is in full operation as am I. I am in this race to win for California, because it is worth fighting for," Jenner said.

Friday is the deadline for candidates to file paperwork and tax returns to run to replace Newsom in the recall election. That list won't be available until this weekend, a spokesperson for the California Secretary of State said. Jenner filed her nomination papers on Thursday, according to Los Angeles County records.

Republican candidates include former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox, former Rep. Doug Ose and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin).

While Jenner may not have name identification challenges that her competitors do, it is the first time she has run for office, and she has held few press conferences or public events thus far. Jenner has instead focused on national television appearances to appeal to voters.

So far, polling shows that Newsom has a good chance of defeating the recall effort despite criticism he has faced for his handling of the pandemic. Republicans seized this week on his call to mandate masks in schools and blamed him for the return of a mask ordinance in Los Angeles County, as it grapples with a spike in the Delta virus variant.

Tara Palmeri contributed to this report.

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