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Local Policy Digest

MultiState's Local Policy Digest explores the top legislative developments from municipalities across the U.S.

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Democratic incumbents sweep November mayoral elections. On November 6, 16 of the country’s largest cities and Washington, D.C., voted to choose new mayors. Although local races are more likely to be nonpartisan than state or federal elections, political ideologies and party loyalties are still significant factors in enacting policies and choosing representatives at the local level. Of the 14 races that have been called so far, sitting Democratic mayors won seven, continuing the party’s hold on major metropolitan areas like Austin, Texas, Louisville, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C.

But Republicans did not walk away empty-handed. In addition to hanging onto mayorships in places like Chandler, Arizona, and San Bernardino, California, Republicans picked up seats in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and, most notably, in Lexington, Kentucky. Linda Gorton’s victory over Democrat Ronnie Bastin in the Bluegrass State marks the first time a Republican has held the position since 1974.

Additionally, three races in Phoenix, Arizona, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Laredo, Texas are headed to runoff elections. In Phoenix, Democrat Kate Gallego ended Election Day in the lead, having earned 45 percent of the vote (compared to Democrat Daniel Valenzuela's 26 percent), but was still unable to reach the 50-percent marker, forcing the general election to be decided in a runoff on March 12.

A month before Election Day, mayors with Democratic ties led 61 of the country’s largest cities. Although that number dwindled slightly, Democrats largely still control America’s major cities.

However, despite Democrats taking control of numerous governorships and legislative chambers in the 2018 elections, Republicans remain the dominant force in state-level politics. The MultiState team expects to see local-state preemption battles continue as Democrat-led cities and Republican-controlled legislatures battle over issues including mandatory paid sick leave.

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MultiState currently tracks more than 3,900 cities, towns, and counties. Additional information about our Local Tracking Service is available here.

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