David Schleicher, Climenko Fellow at Law Harvard Law School, has an intriguing new paper "Why is There No Partisan Competition in City Council Elections? The Role of Election Law," coming in the Journal of Law and Politics. His basic argument is that there is "nothing natural about the lack of partisan competition in elections in American cities. Instead, the lack of competition is likely the result of a system of anticompetitive election laws that make it difficult for the local major party that is the minority to differentiate itself from its national parent. When combined with substantial residential segregation by political party and a first-past-the-post system that creates serious barriers to entry for third-party entrants, the result is uncompetitive and unrepresentative local elections."
The complete paper is here.