Candidate David Erlich is hoping to serve residents in Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro in the state Assembly — and he’s hoping to get out of the hospital soon. Erlich, a Republican, facing incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Rob Bonta next Tuesday, has been in the hospital since October 9 after undergoing an emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer — a procedure that quickly developed complications.
Shortly after the surgery, Erlich was discharged from San Leandro Hospital, but then returned eight hours later after suffering a bad reaction to the medication given by doctors. Upon his second stint in the hospital, doctors delivered more bad news: His gall bladder needs to be removed.
In the meantime, Erlich is awaiting surgery and will most likely spend Election Night next Tuesday convalescing in the hospital. The fiscally conservative Assembly candidate also does not have health insurance.
Speaking from his hospital room Friday afternoon, Erlich said health insurance premiums of more than $3,000 a month for him, his wife and daughter, forced him to decline coverage. Erlich, who resides in San Leandro, works as a freelance electrician. He estimates the cost of his care will be hundreds of thousands of dollars. For now he calls himself a “charity case” since Alameda County taxpayers may pick up the tab for his care. Erlich said he fully intends to pay back the county.
During the very few occasions the candidates in the 18th Assembly District have met to debate the issues Erlich has criticized the Affordable Care Act. He maintains that Obamacare unduly raises premiums for regular Americans. And he now maintains that is has proven to be of no use for his current medical predicament. His health, though, has not stopped him from campaigning from his hospital bed, he said.
“I’ve talked to so many doctors and nurses and they tell me the system doesn’t work,” said Erlich. “Their words have given me even more political support than ever before.”
Erlich’s long-term prognosis for a full recovery is good, he said. His chances next Tuesday, however, are not. During the June Primary, Bonta trounced Erlich — the only other candidate in the race — by 70 percentage points. Because of the state’s top-two primary system, they meet again next week.
But, Erlich has no expectations of winning. At a candidate forum on October 8 — one day before the start of his on-going hospital stay — he said of his odds of beating Bonta: “Go buy a lottery ticket. You have better chances.”