Libertarian Jeff Hewitt Jumps Into California Governor Recall Race

The Riverside County supervisor wants to improve access to school choice and make it easier to build more housing.


Riverside County Supervisor and Libertarian Party politician Jeff Hewitt announced this weekend he will be running to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election.

Last week, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber determined that recall supporters had gathered enough signatures to force a vote to take place sometime this fall. Three Republicans (including Caitlyn Jenner) had announced plans to run against Newsom.

Hewitt, 67, is the first Libertarian Party member to join the fray. Formerly the mayor of Calimesa, Hewitt was elected to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in 2018.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Hewitt had already been exploring a possible run for governor in 2022, when Newsom's first term would normally end. On Friday evening, he formally announced he was going to run against Newsom in the recall.

In an op-ed that ran in The Orange County Register on Sunday, he explained his reasons. While he is a critic of Newsom's authoritarian pandemic responses, he sees the behavior as a symptom of a much bigger problem in how the state's government gets in the way of its citizens' choices.

"The reason I am entering the race for governor in the recall election is that this state no longer accommodates dreams, fosters ideas or solves problems," he wrote. "Instead, the state seems to grow more restrictive and punitive to individuals who want to make this state a better place to live through hard work and innovation."

He's running on a platform of storing and managing water better, loosening California's notoriously restrictive regulations that prevent new housing construction, and improving school choice by supporting educational savings accounts.

In his op-ed he sells his membership in the Libertarian Party as a plus in a very fractured state, noting that a survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 62 percent of voters wanted a viable third party in the state.

"As a Libertarian, not a member of either major party, I have the ability to accept the best ideas of each side and work for consensus and compromise that benefits the state as a whole," he wrote.

Reason took note of the importance of Hewitt's Board of Supervisors win back in 2018 given the size of Riverside County (a population of 2.5 million). Since then, the Libertarian Party has picked up two state-level lawmakers. Rep. Marshall Burt (L–Green River) was elected to Wyoming's state House in November. In Maine, the party picked up a second state-level lawmaker when state Rep. John Andrews (L–Paris) left the GOP in December (a month after getting reelected) and joined up.

Hewitt has also been the subject of two workplace harassment claims, one of which ended with the county settling with the complainant for $50,000.

Below, watch Reason TV's interview with Hewitt from 2019: