The California Libertarian Party chose longtime member Honor “Mimi” Robson as their chair Sunday, placing a former Santa Monica resident at the helm. Robson, who is also running as the Libertarian candidate for State Assembly in Long Beach, says she plans to reach out to disenfranchised voters to expand the party’s numbers.
Less than one-percent in Los Angeles County voters, about 30,000 people, are currently registered as Libertarians, but 25 percent, about 1.3 million, have no party preference (fifty percent of Angelenos are registered Democrats), according to the latest numbers from the Secretary of State. Robson, a licensed engineer, hopes Republicans who dislike President Donald Trump and Democrats fed up with California’s notoriously high taxes will give the Libertarian Party a chance.
“Those people are looking for a political home and they don’t know enough about us,’” Robson said in an interview with the Daily Press Monday. “They really are Libertarians and they just don’t know it.”
Robson says retooling the party’s brand and central message may help attract new members in an era of political discontent. Rather than a part of the Republican coalition, the California Libertarian Party’s website presents its platform as the middle between the two dominant parties. They support choice, LGBTQ equality, anti-discrimination laws, private unions, gun ownership, lower taxes, and privatized retirement options. They do not support a single-payer healthcare system in California. (A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 51 percent of Americans now support a national government-run health care option.)
Robson’s political views formed while she was a student at Santa Monica High School, despite the school’s blazing blue reputation as a bastion of progressive politics.
“I didn’t end up being indoctrinated like many of friends to be a Democrat like everyone else was,” Robson said.
Books like The Wealth of Nations and The Fountainhead caused her to drift away from the political leanings of her peers. As a teenager growing up just six blocks from Palisades Park, Robson remembers warning her mom rent control was a bad idea when it first came to Santa Monica in the 1970’s.
“From a young age I was already conservative in that respect,” Robson said. “I’ve always been interested in economics, the government, and the constitution.”
While she’s moved to Long Beach, Robson keeps up with local issues by managing two prominent local Facebook pages: “You know you’re from Santa Monica if…” and “Santa Monica Now,” which have a combined following of about 15,000 users. As the administrator, Robson tries to stay out of politics on the pages.
“I do my venting about politics on other Facebook pages,” Robson said. Much of the political debates on her pages focus on the housing and homeless crisis in California. Robson’s party supports reducing the number of approvals, hearings and design guidelines for housing projects. It also advocates repealing rent control and subsidized housing fees.
Robson hopes she will have time to run the party, work and continue to run her 2018 campaign for the State Assembly. She says candidates like herself are the key to the party’s future, especially after Gary Johnson’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016. Johnson received 4.5 million votes, the most of any third-party presidential candidate since Ross Perot won 8 million votes in 1996. However, he never received enough support to make it onto a debate stage.
“Until we get down ticket wins, we’re not going to get a presidential win,” Robson said.