State Legislators

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Lecture 11 Outline of Last Lecture I. Types of Primaries a. Closed, Open, Blanket, Nonpartisan, Semi-open, Semi-closed, Runof II. Public Relations Firms, the Mass Media, and Campaigning III. Money in Elections IV. Three Core Functions of State Legislatures a. 1) Policy-making b. 2) Representation >> Policy Representation, Casework, Pork Barrel Policies c. 3) Oversight Outline of Current Lecture: I. Characteristics of State Legislators a. Occupation, Education, Ethnicity, Gender, Wealth and Social Status II. The Incumbency Advantage a. Visibility, Money, Structure III. Professional vs. Less Professional Legislators a. Professional Legislators >> full time job, low turnover, higher salaries, provide more services IV. The Lawmaking Process Chart a. House or Senate Introduction & Referral of a bill b. Committee Action c. Floor Action d. Conference Committee e. Governor acts V. Legislative Districts (Single-member, malapportionment) VI. Drawing of District Lines VII. Homework Reading: a. Chapter 5 Parties and Campaigns in the State: Section State Party Organizations and Activists b. Chapter 6 Legislature: Section Leadership and Role Playing in the States Current Lecture Characteristics of State Legislators Characteristics of State Legislators  Dominant background characteristics of state legislators o Occupation  dominated by lawyers (deal with laws)  others include business owners (deal with regulations, want to shape policy)  legislator is not always a full time job, often 140 days every other year o Education  mostly college educated o Ethnicity/Race  primarily Anglos/Whites  from 1970s to today, significant increase in representation of minorities POLS 207 2nd Edition  most notable increase in African Americans  Hispanics, African Americans, and other minorities have been on the rise o Gender  on average, women hold 20% of legislative seats across the country  Why are women underrepresented?  when women run for state legislator, they have an equal chance of winning  therefore, underrepresentation is primarily due to fewer women running  women run less often o Wealth and Social Status  upper class background  average income is higher than the average income of a resident in the state  most state legislators typically increase their wealth while serving in the legislator  not because they are well paid  but maybe because attracted more business while serving o lawyers take on more cases o being a legislator is like free advertising for one’s job The Incumbency Advantage  about 90% of legislators are reelected  incumbents = legislators running for reelection have a big advantage  Three major factors contributing to the incumbency advantage: o 1) Visibility  get media attention for doing their job  as a state legislator, go back to home town to speak at a meeting  quoted in the newspaper, newspaper photo when open a new facility, etc. o 2) Money  incumbents attract more money and donations than challengers  want to put money towards somebody who is going to win, so since incumbents have a better chance of winning, groups want to back the winner not the loser  want to have clout with ...


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