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Has Jeff Hewitt Shown the Virginia (and Other States, too) LP the way?

Jeff Hewitt is the big story for the LP this election cycle.

Yes, there are some satisfying accomplishments and victories for the Libertarians:

  • In several states, ballot access was secured:

The Libertarian Party has also laid solid groundwork for future electoral success by gaining high enough vote totals to secure automatic ballot access in Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C., which will allow future candidates to focus on their campaigns rather than the costly and painstaking process of petition qualification.

  • Libertarians were actually elected to local offices in record numbers:

Out of the 833 Libertarians who ran for office this year, 53 won — 36 of them in the November election.

But the big win was in, perhaps ironically, California:

The provisional and absentee ballots have finally been counted, and Libertarian Jeff Hewitt has been declared the new supervisor-elect for the 5th District of Riverside County, Calif. Hewitt, the former Libertarian mayor of Calimesa, garnered 51.9 percent of the vote. His opponent, Republican former Assemblyman Russ Bogh, received 48.1 percent.

This is arguably the largest, most momentous win in Libertarian Party history. The population of Riverside County is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at 2,423,266 for 2018, which makes this southern California county in the Inland Empire the 11th-largest county in the United States. It’s larger than the populations of 15 different states. Hewitt’s district alone has a population of more than 438,000.

Here is the official result from the Secretary of State in California:

County Supervisor, District 5
242/242 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
JEFF HEWITT 54,891 51.90%
RUSS BOGH 50,878 48.10%
Total 105,769 100.00%

First, congrats!  But this is not a fluky win.  He served as a mayor and a city councilman, too, and earned a record of accomplishment, especially as mayor:

As mayor of Calimesa, Hewitt successfully ended the city’s CalFire contract, which had saddled the city with bankruptcy-inducing pension obligations. Hewitt instituted a city fire department that costs less and provides more protection, replacing the firefighters’ unaffordable defined-benefit pensions with 401(k) funds, which are common in the private sector. This change also eliminated two layers of administrative costs at the county and state levels.

Now it can be important for ballot access and for the education of numerous voters at one time to run statewide candidates.  In Indiana for example, the party needed a certain percentage in an obscure race (Secretary of State) to gain/keep ballot access.  So in the Hoosier State, you better run your strongest candidate for Secretary of State.  (The LP did it!  They got enough votes in that race and kept ballot access.)  But also there were uncontested candidates such as in Liberty Township:

Four Libertarians in Indiana were elected to public office, with Cheryl Heacox winning for Clay township advisor and Dean Hartley for Franklin Township Board, both winning top-three positions. Terry Coffman was elected to the Liberty Township Board and Jamie Owens was elected as a Liberty township trustee.

Now they can work for their constituents and build a record of accomplishment and then run for a higher office.

With the terrible ballot access laws in Virginia, maybe the road in the Old Dominion is to go small:  School Board/City Council/Mayor/Board of Supervisors and accumulate those accomplishments of lowering taxes and spending and removing useless, silly regulations and stopping terrible laws from being enacted.

It was either in King William or King and Queen Counties in VA that no school board candidate even petitioned to get on the ballot – five write ins won!  What if the party had five strategically placed LP members or fellow travelers (like me!  I live in Hanover however!) to run and win?  Take over the school board?  Cut spending without hurting teachers, bus drivers or custodians or cutting music or sports.  Build records of accomplishment – and run for a higher office.  Have name recognition and something to say.

Maybe Hewitt has shown the Virginia LP the way – go small.  Now, those with a passion for the state/national issues and can raise $$$ ought to run for the higher offices.  Run for LG or AG.

But needing ten percent means you need the right candidate and the right race at the right time.  2013 could have been the right time – Sarvis was the right candidate but what if Rob had run for LG?  Maybe ten percent!

Something to ponder for the future.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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