Longtime Southern Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) has a new challenger in the Aug. 2 primary election: Sherry O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s a physician whose platform includes “medical freedom,” and who’s been endorsed by Ted Nugent.
“Dr. Sherry O’Donnell will best represent the crushing of the status quo…” – Nugent
MICHIGAN—Dr. Sherry O’Donnell, a Republican running for Congress in southeast Michigan’s 5th district, has made a name for herself calling for “medical freedom.” She’s hoping to face Democrat candidate Bart Goldberg in November’s general election – but first, she’s got to beat longtime incumbent Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) in the Aug. 2 primaries. The new 5th Congressional district runs entirely along the southern border of Michigan.
Why Is This Important?
Some of the earliest attempts to politicize the COVID-19 pandemic came from right-wing politicians and activists, many of whom vehemently opposed mask mandates, lockdown protocols, and vaccines from the moment they were introduced.
In Michigan, some of these activists made death threats against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Democrats. Others attempted to storm the Michigan Capitol while carrying firearms.
What’s the Deal with O’Donnell?
There are a few things to know. First, Sherry O’Donnell is a physician in Southwest Michigan. She attended medical school at Oklahoma State University and is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine. She is the medical director of Herbie Medical Clinic, which is housed in the Wesley United Methodist Church in Niles. Further points of interest:
- O’Donnell is on the record saying that all patients at Herbie Clinic are offered prayer as a form of spiritual treatment.
She said during an interview on “The Stew Peters Show” in January that she believes in a “whole person care model” of emotional, physical, and also spiritual care.
In the same show, O’Donnell labeled the COVID-19 pandemic a “plandemic,” and said she also prescribed prayer as an effective treatment for COVID.
Side Note: What’s a “plandemic?”
The term “plandemic” refers to a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 pandemic was masterminded by powerful elites, usually including Bill Gates, various pharmaceutical executives, and some government entities, in order to create an artificial demand for a vaccine.
The “plandemic” theory gained prominence in 2020, when a documentary with the same name was released onto the internet. The video, which was taken down by YouTube and other social media platforms shortly after release, provided no evidence to illustrate most of its theories.
Video of O’Donnell on The Stew Peters Show, during which she expresses support for the conspiracy theory, has featured prominently on O’Donnell’s campaign webpage.
By The Way: Stew Peters is a former bounty hunter who has called for the death of Dr. Anthony Fauci. He once called COVID-19 vaccines a “military bio-weapon.” His shows were removed from Spotify last year for promoting “dangerous, deceptive” content about COVID-19 that may cause harm.
- Speaking about COVID-19, O’Donnell said she places her stock in “medical freedom.”
On wearing masks: “That needs to be a personal choice if someone chooses to wear a mask. Whether I believe it’s effective or not, whether science shows it’s effective or not, they should have that choice,” she said.
On mandates: “And do I think that any of the mandates should have been put in place and told that people had to do that? No, I don’t believe that whatsoever. I think that’s taking some of our constitutional rights away from us, some of our medical freedom away from us.”
On science: “We’ve masked, we’ve locked down, we’ve vaccinated. Everybody says follow the science. But the science is not true science,” O’Donnell said in a video promoting her campaign.
On treatments: “I am uncertain why there has been such hesitation to use either Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin in early use for COVID.”
Side Note: Hydroxychloroquine is a malaria drug.
It was briefly authorized for emergency use in treating COVID-19 before testing reportedly showed it was ineffective. In 2021, the World Health Organization released a report showing that hydroxychloroquine has no meaningful effect on COVID patients, and may even increase the risk of negative health outcomes.
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug.
It’s used primarily for livestock, and is approved for humans in the treatment of some diseases caused by parasites — but not for COVID-19. A clinical trial showed that ivermectin usage did not reduce COVID-19 hospitalization. Additionally, according to the CDC, ivermectin-based poisonings have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.
On vaccines: “Whether or not they take a vaccine, that should be their choice, but they should be informed ahead of time.”
O’Donnell has also said she believes the risks that come with getting a COVID-19 vaccination are greater than contracting the disease itself – a dangerous and unfounded idea that she shared in detail on a Michigan talk-radio show last month.
In a June 21 interview that aired on “Michigan’s Big Show,” host Michael Patrick Shiels asked O’Donnell whether there was a higher risk associated with vaccines than the virus itself.
“The risk of taking the vaccine had proven certainly to be worse than the risk of COVID,” O’Donnell said, adding that “99.7% of patients were going to recover with absolutely no sequela. And the vaccine injury has been significant. The vaccine injury even to the young people across the world, athletes having myocarditis.”
Scientists widely agree, and research over the past year has shown, that the best way to avoid serious illness or death from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. What’s more, serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are rare.
Last month, the CDC released a report that showed 19% of adults who had COVID-19 are still experiencing continued symptoms in what has come to be known as “long COVID.” While not everything is known about long COVID, symptoms include fatigue and shortness of breath.
- She’s Looking to Win the Anti-Establishment Vote
O’Donnell was recently a featured speaker at the 2022 March for Medical Freedom, an event organized by anti-vax activist group Informed Choice Michigan. She spoke alongside gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, who was recently arrested by the FBI for multiple misdemeanors tied to his involvement in the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
O’Donnell said her Republican opponent in the Aug. 2 primary is part of an old guard of leaders.
“Walberg has been in (office) 14 years in federal, 16 years for state. And while he also does represent a conservative platform, he just hasn’t done a lot,” O’Donnell said. “I think if the elected officials had done what they’ve needed to do, we would not be in the state of affairs that we are.”
O’Donnell’s anti-establishment position has attracted allies among the far right. One of her most prominent endorsements to-date came from Ted Nugent, a Detroit native, musician, and conservative activist who once called for the execution of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
“Dr. Sherry O’Donnell will best represent the crushing of the status quo that has embarrassed the great state of Michigan. I love the spirit, the work ethic, the families, the freedom, the self-sufficiency of the American spirit that is alive and well in Michigan and should be represented accurately and honestly in District 5 for Congress,” Nugent said in a video.
Between Oct. 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, O’Donnell’s campaign had raised $159,834.26.
Aside from loans to herself, O’Donnell’s highest single contribution – $14,191 – came from WinRed, a Republican fundraising platform that has been the subject of multiple legal inquiries into allegations of fraud.
During the same period, O’Donnell’s two highest disbursements were to Wacky Buttons Inc., for $6,158.18, and Make America Great Again, Again! Inc. – a $5,000 event fee.
Source: Federal Election Commission, fec.gov