By: Hector Barajas and Mike Vallante

Gavin Newsom won. But he didn’t do it alone — he needed help. And Republicans in and outside of California were more than happy to help, even if they didn’t realize it.

First, there was Trump. Everyone expected that. For the most part everyone did a good job of deflecting. Then the specter of a “rigged election” reared its head.

Trump wasn’t the only T that caused the collapse of the recall.

“Don’t Let California Become Texas” was the message that Governor Gavin Newsom and other state and national Democrats used to defeat the recall campaign.

The Newsom campaign spent millions of dollars telling Californians that if the recall was successful, Larry Elder would become the next governor. Elder was portrayed as anti-vaccine and someone who “celebrates what just happened to women in Texas and is celebrating the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade.”

It galvanized dispassionate Democrats, rang true with Independents, and even cut into recall support among Republicans, especially women. Texas’ stand on abortion became an issue in California, and now you can guarantee it will be an issue in every swing state and Congressional district in 2022.

This recall needed to be about the French Laundry not an abortion law in Texas.

For Republicans, the Texas abortion law and their stance on vaccines was like kicking a hornet’s nest with national implications. It took all the momentum out of why the recall started in the first place, and it helped Newsom do something he couldn’t do himself: make him look like someone you could trust, even if you didn’t like his style.

Newsom’s campaign strategy helped create the stunning shift in the polls from a dead heat race a few months ago, to a blow-out for Newsom. The New York Times writes that a late investment in Latino voter outreach, and a late uptick in interest, helped defeat the recall with some Latino-heavy precincts rejecting the recall by as much as 88 percent. That’s after an earlier poll show Latinos supporting the recall by 54%.

Expect to see these issues in the Virginia on November 2, 2021, in a dead-even Governor’s race and throughout the country in 2022.

Meanwhile, back here in the Golden State, the only thing golden is Newsom. The rest of California still faces the same problems we have had for years — homelessness, wildfires, crime, droughts, and poverty are still with us and have gotten worse in most areas.

Will the political success of Newsom evolve into policy changes that make California better? And with less than a year until the June 2022 primary elections, another thing to consider is redistricting, and where political lines will be set for the next ten years.

Republicans woke up the bear (not the John Cox bear) and they can’t run away from it. Democrats are emboldened, and they will continue to leverage the results of this election with a proven game plan for victory.

Democrats learned a few lessons in this recall. Republicans around the country better have learned some lessons as well.

Hosts of the podcast the Hector and Mike Experience, Hector Barajas and Mike Vallante are communications and public relations experts with decades of political, legislative and media experience. They bring a unique perspective and insight on politics and hot topic items.