This Orange County Republican who campaigned against vaccine mandates just died of COVID-19
In Orange County, California south of Los Angeles, Kelly Ernby — a GOP activist known for her opposition to vaccine mandates — has died of COVID-19 at the age of 46, according to the Daily Pilot.
Ernby, who spent a decade as a deputy district attorney in Orange County, ran for a seat in the California State Assembly in 2020 and competed with Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon for the Republican nomination. Dixon narrowly defeated Ernby in that primary before losing to the incumbent Democrat, Cottie Petrie-Norris, in the general election.
Ernby’s opposition to vaccine mandates preceded the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Ernby opposed a California law that created stricter immunization rules for schoolchildren, saying, “I don’t think that the government should be involved in mandating what vaccines people are taking. I think that’s a decision between doctors and their patients…. If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?”
After losing in the California Assembly race in 2020, Ernby — who continued to speak out against vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic — was elected to the Orange County GOP’s central committee.
Back when California was still a red state, Orange County was known for being a hotbed of conservative Republican politics. Democrats in Los Angeles County, during the 1970s and 1980s, jokingly referred to Orange County as “behind the Orange Curtain.” But Orange County, like many other areas of California, has become increasingly Democratic in recent decades — and the last Republican candidate to carry California in a presidential election was George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Ernby reiterated her opposition to vaccine mandates during a December 4, 2021 rally outside of Irvine City Hall. According to the Daily Pilot, she planned to run for the California Assembly again.
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