How Libertarian Politician Jeff Hewitt Won in California

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt is now the highest elected Libertarian Party member in the U.S.


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Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt is a successful pool construction entrepreneur, one of four elected officials governing an area of California with a population of 2.4 million, and the most powerful public official in America affiliated with the Libertarian Party.

"Being a libertarian is the most important thing to me. It's who I am," says Hewitt. "Everything I do, I always think about: Is it hurting somebody? Is there something I can do to lessen the inquisition of the government and have it instead defend our rights like it's supposed to?" 

Before he was elected to his county seat in November 2018, Hewitt was mayor of the town of Calimesa, where he cut ties with a state fire agency because it was charging too much.

In 2018, Hewitt, whose largest donor was the libertarian tomato magnate Chris Rufer, spent less than half the money campaigning than did his union-backed establishment Republican opponent—and won anyway. He says that the Riverside County Libertarian Party has seen a 42 percent spike in registration since his victory.

Hewitt's district is historically Republican but has skewed Democrat in recent years, something he says he was able to capitalize on to best his opponent.

"I think that one of the biggest mistakes that libertarians make is to think that Democrats are harder to persuade than the Republicans are," says Hewitt.

Despite his electoral success, Hewitt still faces considerable opposition from his fellow board members on several core issues. On a measure to approve a new union contract that Hewitt believes will bankrupt the county, even his conservative Republicans colleagues failed to join Hewitt's sole dissenting vote.

But Hewitt believes that if he sticks with his principles, he'll inspire other libertarians to join him in the fight. He recommends starting on the local level.

"Pick a race that you can win," says Hewitt.  "Then it won't be so lonely for me."

Produced by Zach Weissmueller.

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  1. '"Pick a race that you can win," says Hewitt

    Baby steps.

  2. Highest? Surely there are a few state legislators out there somewhere?

    1. Surely someone is a dog catcher somewhere.

    2. US Senator Rand Paul?

      I guess Big L counts more than little l.

      1. That and Orange man bad, which counts for everything.

    3. The only Big L Libertarian in a state legislature lost her reelection bid. And she didn't run as a Big L, but a Big R and switch her party after she won.

    4. Highest elected.

      I think there may be one or two out there who were elected as one thing but decided to betray the people who put them in office.

      And before anyone starts getting all high and mighty about being true to oneself you need to remember that we elect REPRESENTATIVES. Not rulers.

      If your personal beliefs change so much that you can no longer accurately represent the people who elected you, resign--don't leap to independence or another party. Resign and let the people pick a REPRESENTATIVE.

  3. Proof in the pudding: can he get re-elected??

    1. He did, just to a different office. It's not a matter of having switched parties mid-term. He won election as a Libertarian.

  4. What's a libertarian tomato?

    1. libertarian tomato magnate. It attracts or repels other tomatoes based on orientation of their fields.

    2. Same as a regular tomato except....hey none of your damn business pal!

  5. Imma gonna guess how he did it. My guess is that that he doesn't go to sleep for three and a half years only to wake up for a naive run at the Presidency, only to go to sleep after he loses.

    Libertarians can get into off if they start at the bottom. Pinning all your hopes on a miracle Hail Mary pass at the highest office once every four years is just stoopid.

    1. Brandybuck, libertarians have a 0.00000000000000001% chance at winning the presidency. You want to just throw that away?

    2. "libertarians have a 0.00000000000000001% chance at winning the presidency. You want to just throw that away?"

      The reason we run them has a lot to do with how ballot access laws work. The R's And D's made a lot of voting laws to help them keep the competition out big or little. To give you and idea how nasty the two parties are. Back in the late 1990's we had a libertarian sheriff in Park county Colorado.
      The republicans spent over 3 million dollars on a county with a population of 15,000 or less to his less than $10,000 campaign funds. The libertarian sheriff won by the way. But this should show you what both parties will do to keep down the competition.

  6. I'm assuming that this was a "jungle primary" election. In a pure republican vs libertarian matchup, Hewitt probably got enough Never Trump and or moderate democrat support to eke out a narrow win. The democrats had no incentive to ballot harvest on this race - or so I think.

    Like it or not, libertarians will need support from conservatives and center right in general to actually win offices. Look where the LP made the most gains.

    Trump isn't beyond criticism, but what does the party have to gain by some of their top members engaging in TDS? Weld and Amash were supportive of impeaching and removing an American president based on nothing more than suspicious surface level behavior.

  7. It's easier to get elected to an office as a Liberatarian if it's an office that doesn't require having a foreign policy.

    That's Rand's biggest weak spot, and why I couldn't vote for Gary Johnson.

  8. Ls really do need to run for lower offices where they might actually win. If libertarian minded people took over 1/3 of the random elected offices at the local level, it could really help. A lady I know used to be the head of a water district or whatever for years... She prevented the waste of many millions of dollars on dumb shit, because she had principles.

    A thousand people like her, and there are billions on peoples pockets... Ten thousand, 100 thousand, and you're making real changes that matter. And it could be done.

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