A Democratic Congressional Challenger Espoused Anti-Vaxx Views

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is a darling of the left. But after a measles outbreak, he took to Facebook.

Mayor Mark Gamba

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is mounting an aggressive primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). He has the support of progressive Democrats, including state Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Portland), former Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

He also has a history of social media posts in which he supported parents who refused to vaccinate their children.

In January 2015, after a measles outbreak, Gamba took to Facebook. He posted an article about Dr. Jack Wolfson, an Arizona cardiologist opposed to vaccines. "We should be getting measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, these are the rights of our children to get it," Wolfson told The Arizona Republic.

Below the link, Gamba, then a Milwaukie city councilor, simply typed "word."
His position drew a rebuke from Robin Chedister, a constituent. "People that don't vaccinate are a danger to public health and are not anything I can associate with," Chedister wrote.

Gamba defended the anti-vaxx position. "You need to put some time into some honest research rather than swallowing the status quo and scare tactics that the Big Pharma dishes out," Gamba responded to Chedister. His position didn't prevent him from being elected mayor later in 2015 and again in 2018.

Now, he's challenging Schrader, a six-term incumbent and a leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, the party's conservative wing.

But his views fit a troubling pattern in a state with a low childhood immunization rate—69 percent—and where officials seek to bolster public trust as coronavirus spreads in the region.

Jaime Mathis, Gamba's campaign spokesperson, says Gamba is not an anti-vaxxer. "Prior to holding office as mayor, Mark often encouraged political debate on his page," Mathis says. "Mark has always supported herd immunity, vaccination and the importance of maintaining public health."

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