California Governor Gavin Newsom waffled on legislation to reform vaccine exemptions. Melody Gutierrez, Taryn Luna, and John Myers at LAT:
The California Medical Assn., the main sponsor of the bill, paid Republican strategist Mike Madrid to lead a social media campaign in July aimed at boosting pro-vaccination messages on social media, recruiting parents to join in.
“The goal was to change the narrative,” Madrid said. “We had to show the loud voices were a fringe movement.”
The opposition had its own plan: lobby First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Opponents approached her at a public event and later secured a meeting with her chief of staff. Parents against the bill said they hoped that Siebel Newsom would be sympathetic to their cause. Siebel Newsom declined to comment on her involvement, while the governor would only say to reporters that “everyone has opinions.”
In a tweet, Newsom called for changes, to the dismay of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
In an interview with The Times two days later, Rendon said his house felt “blindsided.”
“Our caucus was taken by surprise by the governor’s tweet,” he said.
Some in the Assembly went so far as to compare the governor to President Trump, who routinely airs his feelings on Twitter, sources said. Others said Newsom’s actions showed a disconnect with legislators and a lack of understanding of concerns for their safety as they debated the bill.
They also questioned his absence from the negotiating table and why his office failed to communicate with Pan.
“There were so many people speaking up that it became a collective concern,” said one legislator, who declined to be identified to speak freely about the situation. “It was a disappointment.”
In the Senate, some Democrats were concerned that Newsom had gone back on his word. Others, who represent dozens of vaccine skeptics in wealthy Los Angeles enclaves, were less critical of the governor. Understanding Pan’s frustrations, they agreed to follow his lead with a second bill, SB 714, which included changes he negotiated with the governor’s office.