How Libertarian Politician Jeff Hewitt Won in California

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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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