A capacity crowd turned out Saturday morning in Santa Rosa to lend support to state and federal efforts to defend the nation’s Affordable Care Act.

Gathered in the gym at Piner High School, the audience members gave prolonged applause to area legislators who called for resistance to plans by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress to end the health care system known as Obamacare.

“I think everybody understands that ‘repeal and replace’ is a cheap campaign slogan,” said Rep Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who hosted the “Town Hall” gathering. “What we’re talking about our lives and livelihoods.”

Should the act be repealed, Thompson said, an estimated 23 million Americans would stand at risk of losing coverage, and 3 million health care workers could lose their jobs.

Thompson’s office afterward estimated the crowd at more than 1,000. One staff member put the number at closer to 2,000.

Before the meeting, many of those attending could be seen walking blocks to reach the gym after the school parking lot and nearby streets filled with parked vehicles.

Thompson was joined in the gym by six state legislators, including all four representing Sonoma County. In conversations before and after the meeting, the elected officials uniformly expressed how striking it was to behold so many people gathered here on a Saturday morning to discuss public policy.

“I’ve never seen it before in my time,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, who has been in various elected offices for nearly two decades.

Pamela Van Halsema of Santa Rosa called the turnout awesome.

“It was heartening to see there was so much support here” for preserving the health care law, she said.

Check back later for more details.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit

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