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California Shows Split Between State and Local Governments


California’s legislature and state-wide elected offices are dominated by Democrats. But newly released data show Republicans are enjoying a resurgence on the local level.

Mike Madrid is with Grassroots Lab, the consulting firm that ran the numbers. He says while 30 percent of California voters are Republican, 47 percent of the state’s mayors and city council members are. Madrid said that disparity can create tense situations.

“This is resulting in a number of adversarial relationships between state and locals, which makes it very difficult to govern. There’s very little room for compromise,” he said. “It’s a recipe for gridlock, often times.”

In non-partisan local elections Republican candidates aren’t always identified with their party, which Madrid said may benefit them. He said the fall off of Republicans at the state level shows the party brand hinders candidates.

A split also exists when it comes to representation of Latinos. Latinos make up nearly 40 percent of California’s population and about a third of the elected officials in the state legislature are Latino. But of the roughly 2,600 mayors and city council members in California, only about 10 percent are Latino.

Madrid said many Latinos skip running for local office and focus on the state instead.

 “We found that Latino elected officials, increasingly, are either labor union activists and, or legislative staffers, sometimes both,” he said. “(They) utilize those connections to help them get elected to the state legislature.”

Madrid said, of the Latinos that are elected to local office, about half represent areas with high concentrations of Latino voters.



Katie Orr

Health Care Reporter

Katie Orr covers health policy for Capital Public Radio. She received her Masters in Political Science from San Diego State University. In her spare time Katie enjoys wine tasting and shopping, though she tries not to combine the two.  Read Full Bio