With Democratic heavy-hitters flying in and almost $70 million collected for damage control leading up to Tuesday’s Recall election, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s campaign team managed to hold on to his role as leader of the Golden State, at least for now. 

Newsom took full advantage of the fact California has no limits on donations made to recall committees. Besides receiving millions from interest groups with business before the state, the governor collected $3 million from Reed Hastings of Netflix, $1 million from George Soros, and Mark Zuckerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan chipped in $750,000, adding to his substantial financial edge in the election. 

Realizing the need to “energize California’s dominant Democratic voters,” a recent CalMatters column explained how the Newsom campaign took action to ensure victory. The governor was elected in a landslide victory in 2018 and was now facing the “unthinkable prospect” of losing his job “in a state that hadn’t elected a Republican in a statewide race in 15 years.” Following an eye-opening survey (that made a mistake), a fundraising email sent out on Aug. 5th to awaken the base issued the dire warning, “this recall is close,” adding, it is “close enough to start thinking about what it’d be like if we had a Republican governor in California. Sorry to put the thought in your head, but it’s true.” 

Indeed, the NY Times reports Newsom spent more money battling the recall than he did on his entire 2018 election, highlighting the suggestion that money made the difference in Tuesday’s vote. Dave Gilliard, a Republican strategist involved in the recall efforts, said of Newsom’s influx of cash, “It’s definitely made a difference.” Democratic strategist Kerman Maddox of California, who also worked as a party fundraiser, remarked:

“If Gavin didn’t raise the money, given the amount of apathy and angst, he could have lost. I’m just going to be real.”

When conservative talk-show host Larry Elder joined the race in July to the enthusiasm of Republicans, Democrats wasted no time repeatedly linking him with President Trump in a bid to appeal to liberal voters in the state. Opponents quickly highlighted Elder’s promise to do away with vaccine and mask mandates that Newsom deemed vital to stop the spread of COVID-19. Elder, who raised close to $15 million, “served as a life preserver for Gavin Newsom” by furnishing the democrats with a clear enemy, according to Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party. 

Elder held the lead far ahead of the 46 candidates on the ticket, telling his supporters after the results were in to “stay tuned,” adding that “we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.” 

As reported by UncoverDC, recall organizer Orrin Heatlie, a retired Yolo County sheriff’s deputy, has been monitoring all aspects of the election and said he is prepared to file lawsuits if his team finds evidence of fraud. He has been particularly concerned with the state’s new online ballot printing option. In an interview on Wednesday, when asked how he felt knowing Newsom will stay in office, an upbeat Heatlie declared:

“I’m ecstatic. You know, this has been a monumental effort. This is the largest petition drive ever attempted in United States history. And we were able to do it with the bulk of volunteer health alone and against all odds. We are the bad news bears as far as California goes. 

This governor has had unlimited resources. He pulled out all the stops. When you spend upwards of $70 million, and you bring out the president of the United States and the Vice President, former presidents and have them speak on your behalf, it just goes to show the level of resources they were willing to spend and devote to keep the power of the people in California.”

Following yesterday’s recall election, it is unclear if a previously mentioned software leak will come into play as the results are examined. In a Sept. 2nd urgent letter to California Sec. of State (SoS) Dr. Shirley Weber, eight of the nation’s top cybersecurity and voting systems experts urged Weber to mandate a statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) to protect the state’s now-closed Gubernatorial recall election following a voting system software leak The experts cautioned in the letter:

“As you know, about three weeks ago, binary images of the Dominion election management system (EMS) were made public. While the software versions are not identical to those used in California, differences are relatively minor: the release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election. We urge you to address the issue by taking one critical action—a statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) of trustworthy paper ballots—which can substantially mitigate these threats.”

Nonetheless, Weber declined to react to the warning, stating there was no time to demand such an audit because it would require “significant preparation, training, and testing.”