Orange County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby, who ran for state Assembly in 2020 and had become a leader with the Republican Party of Orange County, has died suddenly, a week after telling friends she was very sick with COVID-19. She was 46 years old.

Condolences were pouring in online Monday for Ernby, who was a Huntington Beach resident and presumed 2022 candidate for Assembly.

“Thanks for always standing up for victims of crime and fighting the good fight balancing the scales of justice and for always making our communities and public safety a priority,” tweeted Patricia Wenskunas, founder of Crime Survivors Inc.

Ernby was the daughter of two Navy veterans and the sister to a Marine. She graduated from Bonita Vista High in Chula Vista in 1993, earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from UC Santa Barbara, her law degree from the University of San Diego and her masters in public administration from USC.

She commented most frequently on Twitter over the past year about her opposition to mandates for COVID-19 vaccines. During a Dec. 4 rally against vaccine mandates at Irvine City Hall, Ernby drew parallels between the 1960s and today, saying in both eras people faced losing freedoms to what she termed socialist ideals.

“There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she said, according to the Daily Titan.

Ernby was passionate about Republican politics, charter schools, and has a dog named Nixon.

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Editing: Erica P. Wissinger

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