Over at Demos, I’m up with a new post on how Republican state legislatures could help Republican candidates compete in cities through creative election reforms like fusion voting and proportional representation:
Suppose a state needs to elect 10 Congressmen to the House of Representatives. People from all over the state would run for those seats, and the voters would rank the top 10 candidates they like in order of preference. Anybody who gets more than 1/10 of people’s first choice votes wins.
If that doesn’t get you to 10 members of Congress, then “overvotes” for candidates who got more than 1/10 of the first choice votes start getting redistributed, candidates who got the fewest votes get taken out of the running, and you start looking at voters’ second choices, and so on and so on until you have 10 members of Congress.
There are a lot of good reasons to think proportional representation would do a better job than the district system — no gerrymandering, no safe seats — but its key virtue for Republicans hoping to compete in cities is that Republican candidates from cities would face a statewide electorate, not a city electorate dominated by Democrats. It would probably be more common to see Republican members of Congress in the mold of Michael Bloomberg, Governor Mitt Romney, and Mick Cornett who support more consumer choice in the housing market and reject the party’s tribal hostility to multifamily housing and transit.
I doubt Republicans will take my advice on this, which is too bad because I’m not concern trolling. It legitimately sucks that there’s no real party competition in cities for local, state or federal office.
At the federal level it means no politicians pandering to city voters with more balanced housing and transportation policies.
At the state level in PA it means we have a hilariously stunted jobs debate where everybody basically pretends Philadelphia and Pittsburgh aren’t the state’s largest fastest-growing economies and we do insane stuff like try to lure Oracle to State College instead of Pittsburgh.
And at the local level it means that, with the exception of a few idiosyncratic politicians and pressure groups, important pro-market insights on land use, transportation, taxes and business regulations are without a political vehicle.