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California Libertarian's Victory Could Be a Roadmap for Others: New at Reason

Winning candidates need to offer practical approaches that are appropriate for the offices they are seeking. Jeff Hewitt did exactly that.

MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/NewscomMARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/NewscomIn an election that saw Republican candidates obliterated for statewide and legislative seats, it was unusual seeing a Libertarian win a powerful office in one of the nation's most-populous counties. These races are "nonpartisan," but Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt never hid his party affiliation—and he beat a well-known Republican former Assemblyman.

His victory offers some national political lessons, although Hewitt seems far more interested in rolling up his sleeves and addressing the county's public-policy problems than he is in becoming the poster child for any party or movement. Therein lies the key lesson. Winning candidates need to offer practical approaches that are appropriate for the offices they are seeking. "I'm not the guy to get rid of all your taxes or pull us out of Libya or stop the border wall," Hewitt says. "I don't deal with any of that."

But he does want to get the county's unfunded pension liabilities under control, reduce regulations that limit housing supply and drive up home prices, and implement other practical free-market reforms. As a Libertarian he's not just Republican Lite. In fact, he first ran for City Council at the urging of a Democratic councilman who was retiring. That brings us to another lesson: It takes a lot of work and commitment for any candidate to win a major election. He has been working toward this goal for 14 years, starting with a stint on the planning commission.

Hewitt did what all candidates do when they actually want to win an election. They craft a plan. They gain experience. They chalk up accomplishments, writes Steven Greenhut.

Photo Credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS/Newscom

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