Ms Ernby was reportedly considering a second run for the state Assembly
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A rising Republican star out of California has died from Covid-19 just weeks after lashing out at vaccine mandates during a right-wing rally.
Kelly Ernby, the deputy district attorney of Orange County and a presumptive state Assembly candidate in 2022, died shortly after telling her family and friends that she had contracted Covid-19.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Ms Ernby fell ill shortly after she spoke at a Turning Points USA rally on 4 December. She told rally-goers that “there’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now.”
It is unclear if Ms Ernby was vaccinated.
The Orange County Republicans, where Ms Ernby had previously served as a precinct operations chair, said her death had caused them “great sadness.”
According to the group, Ms Ernby died after a bout with a “brief illness.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement honouring Ms Ernby.
“The Orange County District Attorney’s office is utterly heartbroken by the sudden an unexpected passing of Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Kelly was an incredibly vibrant and passionate attorney who care deeply about the work that we do as prosecutors – and deeply about the community we all fight so hard to protect.”
Jon Fleischman, a former executive director for the California Republican Party, said Ms Ernby was “funny and generous,” and that she had become “part of the fabric of our party.”
Ms Ernby told Mr Fleischman that she had been diagnosed with Covid-19 shortly before her death. She also indicated her intention to run for the state Assembly in the newly created 72nd District.
In 2020, Ms Ernby ran for the 74th District seat, which includes Irvine and Huntington Beach, though she was ultimately unsuccessful.
The TPUSA rally she spoke at shortly before falling ill with Covid-19 is not the only time Ms Ernby voiced her opposition to vaccine mandates.
In 2019, Ms Ernby fought against tighter immunisation rules for students in California. During an online town hall event, she told the audience that she did not “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?” she said.
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