Einstein, Katherine Levine, David M. Glick, Maxwell Palmer, and Robert Pressel. 2020. “Do Mayors Run for Higher Office? New Evidence on Progressive Ambition.” American Politics Research 48(1) 197–221.
The mayor’s office potentially offers a launchpad for statewide and national political ambitions. We know relatively little, however, about how frequently mayors actually run for higher office, and which mayors choose to do so. This article combines longitudinal data on the career paths of the mayors of 200 big cities with new survey and interview data to investigate these questions. While we find that individual and city traits—especially gender—have some predictive power, the overwhelming story is that relatively few mayors—just under one-fifth—ever seek higher office. We suggest that ideological, institutional, and electoral factors all help to explain why so few mayors exhibit progressive ambition.