Kelly Ernby, who ran unsuccessfully for a California State Assembly seat as a Republican, has died from COVID-19. She was 46.
Ernby had worked as a deputy district attorney for Orange County for the last 10 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is utterly heartbroken by the sudden and unexpected passing of Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby," District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. "Kelly was an incredibly vibrant and passionate attorney who cared deeply about the work that we do as prosecutors — and deeply about the community we all fight so hard to protect."
Jon Fleischman, former executive director of the California Republican Party said: "She was very passionate about her love for politics, for America and the Republican Party. She jumped into a race for state assembly when not many people knew her, ended up raising more money and having a much larger grass-roots organization than expected."
Ernby lost in the 2020 race for the assembly by 4,000 votes, according to the Times. She was elected as a member of the Orange County Republican Party central committee in the same year.
She had been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Ernby spoke against mandates during a Dec. 4 rally outside Irvine City Hall. The rally drew dozens in attendance, according to the Daily Titan, a Cal State Fullerton student newspaper.
"There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now," she said at the rally.
According to The Orange County Register, she had been expected to announce she was again entering the race for state assembly.
She is survived by her husband, Axel.
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