What the results of Tuesday's elections could mean for restaurants

Working Lunch: Among the industry's concerns should be Democrats' embrace of abortion rights as their party's issue. The importance of the matter to voters could usher more anti-business progressives into office.

Tuesday’s elections should have been a yawner for restaurants. No industry-specific ballot initiatives, no candidates with a vendetta against the business, no longtime political adversaries using their time on the hustings to blast the trade.  Indeed, control by party of state legislatures and governorships was largely unchanged.  

Yet the results have put a fright into some industry lobbyists, as this week’s Working Lunch political-affairs podcast illustrates. As in virtually every post-election analysis, the recap given by co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley attributes the Democrats’ strong showing to the party’s support among abortion-rights advocates.

Those voters also tend to have liberal views on such matters as unionization, minimum-wage hikes and a host of other issues with direct importance to the restaurant business, noted Kefauver.

“They’re not moderate Democrats. They are progressive,” he said. With Democrats taking up guaranteed access to abortion as their issue, they’re likely to prevail in upcoming elections, since the controversial matter is not likely to go away.

During next year’s election cycle, “I can see state legislatures picking up five or six seats over this issue that they shouldn’t be picking up,” said Kefauver.

Even this go-round, “we had progressives taking the place of conservatives on this and other issues,” he continued. “They’re not moderate Democrats. They are progressive, and they’re coming in. Their seats have now become anti-business and anti-restaurant, and they’ve become a huge liability for traditional conservative business leaders.”

He is particularly concerned about the attitudes those progressives will bring to unionization and other labor issues with direct relevance to restaurateurs.

“I think it’s a huge problem,” he said.

“Buckle up, Joseph,” said Coley, Kefauver’s partner in the Orlando, Fla., government-affairs shop Align Public Strategies. “It is going to be a wild ride for the next 12 months.”

For more on their analysis of what Tuesday’s election could mean for restaurants, and how it will affect the general elections next year, give a listen to this week’s Working Lunch podcast.




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