Jay Leno's Political Party Is Hard to Pin Down, Keeps Views Private

Jay Leno doesn't usually talk about his political party or voting preferences. He prefers to keep his politics out of his public life.

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Apr. 25 2022, Published 10:56 a.m. ET

Jay Leno
Source: Jay Leno FB

Former late-night talk show host Jay Leno tried to stay away from politics.

The longtime host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno has interviewed countless celebrities and public figures. After taking over the role from Johnny Carson in 1992, Leno hosted the popular late-night show until 2014 (with a brief break when Conan O’Brien was the host). Leno’s political party hasn’t been officially identified.

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The late-night host also continued making stand-up comedy appearances throughout his career and has hosted Jay Leno’s Garage. When asked about his political preferences and voting history, Leno has remained tight-lipped. He has joked about both Democrats and Republicans over the years.

Jay Leno hasn’t shared his political party publicly.

As a comedian and talk-show host, Leno has indicated his preference for not disclosing his political leanings. In a 2019 interview on TODAY, Leno told host Al Roker that he’s glad he hosted before politics became so prominent in entertainment.

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Leno and Roker
Source: Jay Leno FB

Jay Leno with Al Roker on the set of TODAY.

When Roker asked if Leno missed doing The Tonight Show, Leno responded, “No, it’s different…Everyone has to know your politics.” Leno said that he modeled his career after Carson’s in that he kept quiet and people couldn’t “figure out” where he stood politically.

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During the same interview, Leno indicated that coming up with comedic material was “a little easier” and referred to jokes about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Leno’s charitable contributions may give clues about his politics.

Leno is an extremely wealthy man. Celebrity Net Worth estimates his net worth at $450 million thanks to his years of high paydays at The Tonight Show. With his wife Mavis, Leno has made a few notable contributions to charities over the years. However, none of the donations clearly show his political party.

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Leno gave $100,000 to a Salem State College scholarship fund in 2009. That was in honor of Lennie Sogoloff, who helped Leno get his start in comedy performances at his club Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike.

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In 2001, the couple gave $100,000 to a Feminist Majority Foundation campaign to end gender apartheid and bring freedom to women in Afghanistan.

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A 2012 auction of Leno’s Fiat 500 brought in $385,000. Those proceeds were donated to an organization helping war veterans find housing after being wounded.

Leno and John Edwards
Source: Getty

Leno interviewing presidential candidate John Edwards in 2004.

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Leno has mocked U.S. presidents of both parties.

Leno said in the 2019 TODAY interview, "When people see you as one-sided, it just makes it tough. And I would get hate mail from both sides equally." He noted that people weren't sure of his political party then, and didn't explain his political leanings in the interview either.

Leno said in 2019 that he learned on The Tonight Show how little most people knew about politics. He said, "Once you get past Secretary of State, nobody has any idea who you're talking about." This led him to avoid relying too heavily on political commentary for his jokes.

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In 2014, Leno joked that President Barack Obama had been "trying to break" the U.S.'s relationship with Israel. He has also said that coming up with material about President Trump was difficult because of how "outrageous" Trump's actual life was.

In the past, Leno did say that he is "not conservative."

The Atlantic reported that in 2003, LA Weekly writer Nikki Finke had called Leno "The Right Comic" after he appeared at a victory party for Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Despite his usual avoidance of political topics, Leno responded, "I'm not conservative. I've never voted that way in my life."


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