Senator Bannard returns to Stockton to campaign for his re-election. Having run into bandits on the stagecoach, he drives in himself, having disposed of his assailants single-handed. Victoria is there to greet him, by way of being a supporter and long-time friend. They discuss one of his major initiatives: to build a hydraulic system to water the valley, which will mean a tax hike. He asks her to dine with him later at the Cattlemen's Hotel, where they are both staying.
That night, Victoria is summoned from her room by a knock on the door. She's given a note, allegedly from Senator Bannard, and she goes to his room to see what he needs. He has been sleeping, and they both realize that the note is fraudulent as they examine it by the lamp. As they stand near one another in their nightgowns, a cameraman snaps a photo of the two of them and scurries away.
Meanwhile, Bannard's opponent, Judge Dagget, is in town and is making speeches about his own platform, which is one of prudence towards spending. At the Barkley's place, Victoria persuades Bannard to stay at her ranch, despite his protests that it will be further scandal. Victoria is worried for his safety, and she also has witnessed Bannard's dangerous temper and is fearful it will get him in trouble.
The next day, a photo is sent to Bannard with a warning to drop out of the election. The photo is of Bannard and Victoria, seemingly in an embrace. As they search for answers, Jarrod runs into Dagget, Bannard's opponent, in the hotel. Dagget denies knowing anything about the disturbances of the previous night.
Nick gets it into his head to break into Dagget's office in town at night and search for the incriminating photos. Heath follows him, and the two are caught by Dagget. Jarrod is furious, and Victoria urges everyone to be calm. In the morning, she goes to talk to Dagget and try to reason with him not to use dirty tactics to campaign; he refuses to listen to her, nor will he claim any wrong-doing in the affair with the photos.
Dagget's accomplice in the photo shoot is a man by the name of Gill, and he owns a shop in San Francisco. He begins blackmailing Dagget for more money. There are multiple copies of the photos now, and he is hoping to extort Dagget. Bannard trails Dagget in order to try to talk sense into him, and Victoria follows Bannard just in time to see him get into a physical altercation with Dagget. Bannard accidentally kills him, and then finds the photo in his valise. Victoria tells him that he must come clean with the public about what has really happened, and in his anger, Bannard throws Victoria to the ground. He apologizes, then rides away.
Victoria gets an idea that the accomplice must be Gill from the newspaper article she has found on Dagget that shows Gill's photo. She rides to his shop and when he sees her, tries to avoid her. She refuses to let him go, and the two engage in a deadly fight. He tries to strangle her with a rope, and she ends up throwing acid from his photo developing right into his eyes, then clubbing him over the back of his head.
Dagget is dead, Gill is stopped short, the scandal is averted, and Bannard as incumbent is ready to resume duties and build the aqueduct. He and Victoria talk about the beauty and richness of California, and about his legacy for the valley.