LOS ANGELES – California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search) remains an underdog in the recall election to replace him, but that's not obvious by his campaign's bank accounts.
Doing slightly better in the polls this week, Davis was given a boost with new infusions of campaign dough. The Davis camp said it had received more than $700,000 in the three days from Monday to Wednesday
The campaign said the donations reflected a reappraisal of Davis' chances to survive.
"People are taking another look at our chances," Davis spokesman Gabe Sanchez told Fox News. "That's why we're gathering support."
Pro-recall supporters contended the surge in donations was driven at least partially by businesses and other groups trying to influence bills on workman's compensation reform (search) and health care as the legislative session wound down.
"If you take a look at the list of recent donors and compare it to legislation, you'll see a lot of correlation," said Dave Gilliard, chief strategist for Rescue California (search), the leading pro-recall campaign.
"We've been trying to get the business establishment to understand this election is not over," Gilliard added. "But they are so afraid of this governor that they're not giving money to us, and in some cases they're giving to the governor. It's very disturbing."
According to state records, Davis, who is not bound by state campaign finance rules, collected more than half a million dollars from just 16 donors.
The biggest Davis donors included:
— $100,000 from Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen.
— $75,000 from Oakland-based Kazan, McClain, Edises, a large law firm specializing in asbestos-related litigation.
— $75,000 from Marcus & Millichap, a national real-estate and brokerage firm.
— $50,000 from Los Angeles multimedia firm West Grand Media.
— $50,000 from AT&T.
— $25,000 from Mercury General Corporation, a major California auto insurance firm.
— $20,000 from Klein Financial Corporation, a San Jose retail and residential development firm.
The state's Democratic central committee also contributed $54,662 to the anti-recall effort. Davis moved in more than $65,000 from his gubernatorial campaign account.
Sanchez said he "had no idea" whether any of the largest donations had been motivated by a desire to influence the outcome of legislation. He said Davis' aggressive efforts to defeat the recall by campaigning across the state had persuaded some big donors he might survive.
Gilliard, of the pro-recall movement, did not disagree.
"Gray Davis is not gone yet," Gilliard said. "There has been some movement towards his campaign — not a lot, but if they have a major get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day it could tip the balance."
The funds are paying for a new wave of anti-recall ads. Davis has produced three TV spots in English and will begin running a Spanish-language version in Los Angeles and San Diego on Friday.
Two of the English-language ads feature Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the state's most popular Democrat. The third, which began running earlier this week, describes the recall as a "circus" that threatens the state's sluggish economy. None of them prominently feature Davis's face or say his name.
The Spanish-language ads, however, show Davis campaigning with Latino voters and urge support in Spanish because "fighting for what's fair and just is what Gray Davis is all about."
Gilliard said his group had pleaded unsuccessfully with big business and large California Republican Party donors to bankroll pro-recall radio and TV ads.
"It hasn't happened," he told Fox News. "The Republicans have a big opportunity with the recall, but it has a chance of slipping away. We have our ads produced, but we don't have any money to run them. And if we don't get some soon, it will be too late."
Gilliard said his group would plead again for donations at this weekend's state GOP convention in Los Angeles.
"By Sunday, I'll either be really happy or really depressed," he said.
To survive the recall, Davis must rally Democrats and find new converts. He's still working on the base. As for new believers, the numbers were discouraging. Almost 200,000 Californians had registered to vote since May; fewer than 20,000 did so as Democrats. More than 80,000 registered as Republicans, and 90,000 as independents.
How many of the new registrants would be pleased to see the governor campaigning with former President Bill Clinton remained to be seen. Davis and Clinton planned to appear at a popular Los Angeles African Methodist Episcopal church on Sunday to rally against the recall.