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Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor in the UCLA Department of Political Science. During the 2020-21 academic year, I was a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. I study representation, political institutions, and public policy in state and local governments in the U.S. My research has appeared in outlets such as The Journal of Politics and The American Political Science Review and has received support from the National Science Foundation and the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences. My book When Cities Lobby (Oxford University Press, 2022) documents how local officials use lobbyists to compete for power in a political environment characterized by intense urban-rural polarization and growing hostility between cities and state legislatures.

I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford in 2017, where I was an Affiliated Researcher at the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Thomas D. Dee II Graduate Fellow for 2016-17. In my free time, I enjoy running, practicing piano, and scuba diving.

Julia Payson NYU
Los Angeles

When Cities Lobby tells the story of what happens when city officials rely on professional lobbyists to represent their interests in state government. The ability to lobby can be a powerful tool for city leaders seeking to amplify local voices in state politics, and many of the most active city lobbyists are large urban centers that have historically been underrepresented in our federal system. But high-income places have also figured out how to strategically use lobbyists---and these communities have become particularly adept at lobbying to secure additional grant money and shift state funding in a direction that favors them. How did we end up with a system where political officials in different levels of government often choose to pay private lobbyists to facilitate communication between them, and are the potential benefits worth the costs? When Cities Lobby demonstrates that the answer is deeply rooted in both the nature of the federal system and the evolution of the lobbying industry. And while some states have recently debated measures to restrict lobbying by local governments, these efforts will likely do more harm than good in the absence of substantial reform to the lobbying industry more generally.

Available from Amazon and Oxford University Press

Winner of the Christopher Z. Mooney Best Dissertation in State Politics and Policy Award (2018)

Replication code and data here

Interviews and Media Coverage 

Why Cities Lobby. Can they afford not to? The Amazing Cities and Towns Podcast, August 7, 2023.

A big chunk of lobbying in Mass. is not tracked. Common Wealth Magazine, May 6, 2023.

The infrastructure lobbying frenzy is just getting started. Politico, November 6, 2022.

As Washington opened the money spigots, Minnesota towns hired D.C. lobbyists. MinnPost, June 21, 2022.

Cities regularly hire lobbyists. It pays off for the richest cities. The Monkey Cage, April 1, 2022.

Why Are Cities Hiring Lobbyists? Not Another Politics Podcast, March 30, 2022.

Book Reviews

Choice, 2023.

Local Government Studies, 2023.

Publius, 2022.

Perspectives on Politics, 2022.



Published and Forthcoming Articles

Residency Blues: The Unintended Consequences of Police Residency Requirements. With Srinivas Parinandi (Forthcoming at Journal of Politics). Pre-printReplication Materials.

Local Leaders and the Pursuit of Growth in U.S. Cities: The Role of Managerial Skill. With Maria Carreri. (2024) Political Science Research and Methods 12(1). Pre-printReplication Materials.


Locally Controlled Minimum Wages Leapfrog Public Preferences. With Gabor Simonovits. (2023) Quarterly Journal of Political Science 18(4). Website. Pre-printReplication Materials. Not Another Politics Podcast. ​​


Using Social Media Data to Reveal Patterns of Policy Engagement in State Legislatures. With Andreu Casas, Jonathan Nagler, Richard Bonneau, and Joshua A. Tucker. (2022) State Politics and Policy Quarterly 22(4): 371-395.​ Replication Materials.

Decomposing the Source of the Gender Gap in Legislative Committee Service: Evidence from U.S. States. With Alexander Fouirnaies and Andrew B Hall. (2023) Political Science Research and Methods 11(1): 191-197. Pre-print.​ Replication Materials.​

What Makes A Good Local Leader? Evidence From U.S. Mayors and City Managers. With Maria Carreri. (2021) Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy 2(2): 199-225. Pre-printThe Science of Politics Podcast. Policy Report.​​

The Partisan Logic of City Mobilization: Evidence From State Lobbying Disclosures. (2020) American Political Science Review 114(3): 677-690. Replication Materials.​​​​​​ Not Another Politics Podcast.

Cities in the Statehouse: How Local Governments Use Lobbyists to Secure State Funding. (2020) Journal of Politics 82(2): 403-417. Replication Materials.​​

When Are Local Incumbents Held Accountable for Government Performance? Evidence from U.S. School Districts. (2017) Legislative Studies Quarterly 42(3): 421-448. Replication Materials. Brookings Center Commentary.​​


Working Papers and Under Review


A Nationalized Agenda or Laboratories of Democracy? Issue Attention in State Politics. With Andreu Casas, Oscar Stuhler, Jonathan Nagler, Richard Bonneau, and Joshua A. Tucker (Invited to Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Politics).​ Pre-print.

When Progressives Took Power: The Political and Economic Effects of Progressive Era Reforms. With Maria Carreri and Dan Thompson. Pre-print.

Aid for Incumbents: The Electoral Consequences of COVID-19 Relief. With Jeffrey Clemens and Stan Veuger.

In Progress

Local Taxes and Economic Voting: Evidence from City Ballot Measures

Spending Constraints: Why City Discretionary Funding Doesn't Reach Needy Neighborhoods

Los Angeles

You can view and download my CV here.

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