Opponents of California’s new mandatory vaccine law have suffered another defeat, failing to force a recall election of the senator who championed the law.
In carrying a law requiring vaccines for all schoolchildren, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, drew the animus of parents who believe vaccines are unsafe and the law is an assault on parental rights. Pan received death threats at his office during the debate.
After Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277, opponents turned to an attempt to recall Pan. Needing to gather 35,926 signatures by Dec. 31, they submitted none in Sacramento County or in Yolo County, which contain Pan’s 6th Senate District.
“Not a single signature,” said Susan Patenaude-Vigil, Yolo County’s assistant clerk-recorder.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
In a statement, Pan called the defeat a “victory of science over the politics of fear and intimidation” and castigated “anti-vaccination zealots” who “used fear, intimidation and discredited information to try to defeat our bill.”
“With this recall threat behind us, I am more committed than ever to serving the people of the 6th District and working to build a healthy California,” Pan said.
The recall’s collapse marks the latest signature-gathering failure for critics of SB 277. They also fell well short in seeking a referendum to overturn the law.
A Sacramento-area organizer for the referendum campaign said the effort to overturn the law drew resources and time away from the Pan recall campaign.
“By the time we were done with the referendum, we only had about three months left” to pursue the recall,” said Janine Kloss, who lives in Pan’s district. “The referendum interfered with that (recall) timeline.”
Although Kloss’ name appears on the “Recall Pan” website, she said she had little involvement with the campaign. The proponent listed on campaign filing documents did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Sacramento Bee. The campaign’s ballot committee did not show any contributions.
The anti-recall campaign, on the other hand, pulled in tens of thousands of dollars to defend Pan. Groups representing physicians, real estate interests, educators and organized labor contributed around $125,000 to the campaign, which unlike conventional races does not impose contribution limits.
Beginning in July, schools will need to ensure that students entering kindergarten and seventh grade are up-to-date on all of their vaccines as a condition of enrollment. The law makes exceptions for students who have certain medical issues such as weakened immune systems.