Bill Hunt's Remarkable Rise

[Moxley Confidential] Will Mike Carona's ex-punching bag be Orange County's next sheriff?

How did he do it? In a forceful tone, he promised to model his performance on that of notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, saying he would fight amnesty for illegal immigrants, start forcing everyone arrested on misdemeanor charges to go to jail and seek bail, advocate cuts in public subsidies to the criminal-defense bar working on behalf of the indigent, refuse to allow early release for any inmate, increase department accountability to the public, have a far-less-restrictive concealed-weapons-permit policy than his opponents, and stand up against the liberal likes of Jerry Brown or federal bureaucrats.

“Politics and political pressure will not stop me from doing the job of sheriff,” he said. “I’ll be obligated to step up and fight for our constitutional liberties.”

Hunt’s alignment with Arpaio prompted Hunter to call the Arizona sheriff “an overzealous . . . racist.”

Bill Hunt works the crowd
Christopher Victorio
Bill Hunt works the crowd

The crowd booed again, and Hunt pounced.

“You call Joe Arpaio a racist?” he said. “That’s what happens when a sheriff stands up and does his duty!”

By the loud cheers, you might have thought Denny’s had begun its 4 p.m. dinner service. One attendee, who had told me he was undecided before the forum, said he’ll vote for Hunt. “[Hutchens] is too wishy-washy,” concluded the man, who described himself as a retired advertising executive. “Hunter has some good experience in Anaheim, but I got the feeling he also has a chip on his shoulder. Hunt impressed me the most. He doesn’t seem afraid to do the job right.”

Afterward, Hunt felt victorious. He believes he can win the June election by winning more than 50 percent of the vote and avoid a run-off between the top two candidates. It’s a ballsy prediction, but that is Hunt’s mindset.

Conditions might just favor him. Incredibly, for only the second time in 35 years, Orange County doesn’t have its elected sheriff running for re-election. That makes Hunt the most experienced campaigner in this race.

“I’m having fun, and I know what I’m doing,” he said. “People in Orange County want bold, conservative leadership, and I’m going to give it to them.”

rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com

This column appeared in print as "The Fall & Rise of Bill Hunt: Will Mike Carona’s ex-punching bag be Orange County’s next sheriff?"
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