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Campaign Finance in Local Elections: Buying the Grassroots

Brian E. Adams
Campaign Finance in Local Elections: Buying the Grassroots
ISBN: 978-1-935049-17-3
ISBN: 978-1-62637-170-5
2009/231 pages/LC: 2009030502
A FirstForumPress Book
"A fine book that is clearly written, well organized, and thoroughly researched. Campaign Finance in Local Elections is an important work that makes a valuable contribution to the campaign finance literature."—Peter L. Francia, Perspectives on Politics

“The first comprehensive study of the financing of urban campaigns.... Future studies of urban campaign finance will certainly build upon it.” —Robert G. Boatright, Urban Affairs Review

"High praise is due ... to Brian E. Adams for assembling and examining a comprehensive set of local campaign finance data from 11 U.S. cities in the 1990s and 2000s.... A significant contribution to our understanding of local politics and of campaign finance."—Bertram Johnson, Political Science Quarterly

"This pioneering effort analyzing 11 cities for periods ranging from 2 to 12 years is notable for both its coverage and its execution.... Well-organized and clearly written."—Choice

"An enjoyable read and a welcome contribution. Adams’s in-depth analysis of local campaign finance, comparing and contrasting experiences across multiple cities, provides valuable insights that do not emerge at the federal or state level."—J. Cherie Strahan, Central Michigan University

"Evenhanded, compelling, and of consistently high quality—a clear contribution."—Eric Heberlig, University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Even in local elections, money matters—but just how much? Drawing on multifaceted data from more than 700 races featuring 2,800 candidates, Brian Adams comprehensively investigates the role of money and the effects of campaign finance reforms at the local level.

Adams covers mayoral and city council races across several election cycles, offering analysis of cities representing a range of forms of government, demographic profiles, and approaches to the regulation of campaign finance. Throughout, he evaluates claims about the costs and benefits of changes to the financing rules and also relates his findings to broader concerns about citizen participation in self-governance at the local level.


Brian E. Adams is associate professor of political science at San Diego State University. His publications include Citizen Lobbyists: Local Efforts to Influence Public Policy.


  • City Elections, Campaign Finance, and the Health of US Democracy.
  • The Cities and the Data.
  • Campaign Finance, Competition, and Electoral Success.
  • Why Campaign Spending Matters.
  • Electoral Accessibility and the Campaign Finance Barrier.
  • Biases in the Contributor Pool.
  • The Effects of Contribution Limits.
  • The Impact of Public Financing.
  • Conclusion: Reforming City Elections.