Current Research, Academic Interests and Areas of Expertise
Political parties everywhere confront challenging territorial dilemmas as they seek to conquer new electoral “turf” and keep possession of the territory already held. In the United States, this principle was clearly illustrated in November 2008, when Democrats surprised observers by winning the Republican strongholds of Indiana and Virginia. In Mexico, it was evident as the National Action Party sought to capitalize on local democratization in the states of Baja California and Chihuahua, and gained its first-ever governorships in the early 1990s. And in Germany in 1990, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Christian-Democratic Union’s campaign-season assurances of reunification led voters throughout the former East Germany to support that party in founding democratic elections. That party politics are territorialized may seem obvious both to party leaders and to scholars, but there is a dearth of general theoretical knowledge about how parties confront spatial-strategic challenges. Given global trends toward the deepening of federalism and the decentralization of political and fiscal authority, the organizational choices that party leaders make, and their territorial variation, constitute an increasingly central element of party life. My current research project seeks to explain these choices by adopting a spatial perspective on party politics and applying it to the organizational development of the (West) German Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) as it moved into East Germany following reunification in 1990. I seek to explain, through a comparative, municipal-level analysis, how party leaders, given their electoral goals, finite resources, and the diverse constituencies with which they are confronted, select from a catalogue of potential tactics and decide to forge alliances with local elites or existing political groups, or rely on media or internet-based campaigning, or establish an independent territorial presence of their own. While my current project focuses exclusively on Eastern Germany, my analytic goals are oriented not only to accounting for the spatialized character of German party organization, but to developing a generalizable model for territorial party organization that can be brought to bear on other federal and decentralized polities, like the United States, Mexico, and South Africa.
I am currently Associate Professor of Government and Director of Latin American Studies at the University of Redlands (Redlands, CA) and received my Ph.D. (2002) and M.A. (1997) in Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I am also a former Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego, Visiting Researcher at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City and Visiting Research Fellow in Politics at the University of Edinburgh.
My research examines how political parties build and maintain links with collective social actors (like unions and civic organizations), their members and voters. I am interested in processes like candidate selection and bureaucratic development in parties because they have a profound influence on the quality of interest representation in democratic systems. I have published on processes of candidate selection in Mexico and the United States, including articles in Journal of Politics, Election Law Journal and Estudios Mexicanos/Mexican Studies, on democratic transition and their consequences in Mexico, Taiwan, Senegal, and Korea in the International Studies Review and have just published by first book, Savage Democracy: Institutional Change and Party Development in Mexico. My next research project examines how political parties organize strategically across varied social and economic contexts and will compare party strategies in Mexico and Germany.
Courses Offered at Redlands
- Introduction to World Politics
- Comparative Politics
- Government and Politics in Europe
- Latin American Politics and Development
- Capstone Seminar: Political Research Methods
- Political Change
- Territorial Politics: Mexico and the United States (with GIS lab)
- Parties and Elections in Latin America (senior seminar)
- Revolutions in the Third World (senior seminar)
- Comparative Local Politics (senior seminar)
- Playwrights, Poets, Presidents and Protests (first year seminar)
- Questions of Authority: Climate Science (May term course)
- Questions of Authority: Remembering the Socialist Past (May term course)
Ph.D. in Political Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“Opposing Oligarchy? Mexican Democratization and Political Party Transformation”
Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies, UNC Chapel Hill
M.A. in Political Science, UNC Chapel Hill
“Explaining Green Government: A Boolean Analysis of State Environmentalism in Latin America”
Awarded James W. Prothro Award for Outstanding Graduate Research
B.A. in Sociology and Spanish, Macalester College, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude
Previous Teaching Experience
Assistant Professor, Department of Government, University of Redlands
Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Politics, University of Edinburgh (UK)
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bucknell University
Research Fellow, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego
Visiting Researcher, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (Mexico City)
Research Fellowships, Honors and Training
Finalist, Fulbright German Studies Seminar Fellowship (for Germany’s Future – New Parties, New Solutions?)
Faculty Research Grant, University of Redlands (for Insurgent Parties: The Topography of Local Party Organization in Germany and Mexico)
American Political Science Association Small Research Grant (for The Topography of Local Party Organization in Mexico)
Faculty Research Grant Award, University of Redlands (for The Topography of Local Party Organization in Mexico)
Award for Outstanding Faculty Research/Creative Activity, University of Redlands
Faculty Research Grant Award, University of Redlands (for Opposing Oligarchy: Party Transformation in Contemporary Mexico)
Researcher-in-Residence Fellowship, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego
National Science Foundation Graduate Traineeship in Democracy and Democratization
Institute for the Study of World Politics Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (Mexico)
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) (Supported by the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, UNC; advanced training in structural equations modeling and time series)
Teaching Fellowships, Honors and Training
SPACE Instructional Development Award, granted by the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (To support a speaker series on spatial perspectives in the social sciences)
Ethics Across the Curriculum Award, granted by the Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society (To support curricular proposal “Scientific Ethics and the Politicization of Climate Science”)
Spatial Analysis in the Social Sciences Curriculum, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (Supported by the University of Redlands; training in ArcGIS, GeoDa and FlowMapper, with particular emphasis on curricular development)
Savage Democracy: Institutional Change and Party Development in Mexico. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.
“Las reglas ‘democráticas’ y las implicaciones antidemocráticas: Selección de candidatos presidenciales en el PAN y el PRD para las elecciones de 2006.” Política y Gobierno.
“The Legacies of Transition from One-Party Rule: Mexico in Comparative Perspective.” International Studies Review 9 (2): 348-356.
(with Scott R. Meinke and Jeffrey K. Staton) “State Delegate Selection Rules for Presidential Nominations, 1972-2000.” Journal of Politics 68 (1): 180-193.
“Democratization and the Dynamics of Candidate Selection Rule Change in Mexico, 1991-2003.” Estudios Mexicanos/Mexican Studies 22(1): 33-55.
“Selecting Candidates: What Mexico Should (and Shouldn’t) Learn from the United States.” Election Law Journal 3(3): 521-529.
“The PAN as the Incumbent Party.” In Roderic Ai Camp, ed., Oxford University Handbook on Mexican Politics. New York: Oxford University Press (under contract, expected 2010 publication).
“Barbarians, Bureaucrats, and Bluebloods: Fractional Change in the National Action Party.” In Kevin J. Middlebrook, ed. Party Politics and the Struggle for Democracy in Mexico: National and State-level Analyses of the Partido Acción Nacional. San Diego: Center for U.S Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego.
- Member, American Political Science Association
- Member, Latin American Studies Association