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What the 2019 Election Results Mean for the Entry-Level Restaurant Employers

Align Public Strategies weighs in on the 2019 election results and what they mean for operators who hire entry-level restaurant workers.

Why the 2019 Election Results Are Crucial for Entry-Level Restaurant Employers

​Why It Matters

Entry-level restaurant employers in Virginia are in for a rude awakening when the 2020 state legislature reconvenes. Democrats secured both state legislative chambers for the first time in decades (they already controlled the governor’s mansion), giving them a Democratic “trifecta” in the state (control of the executive and legislative branches). Expect a rush of labor-backed bills on day one of the 2020 legislative session and a tough environment moving forward.

The other big development last night was in Kentucky. The Republican trifecta in the state appears to be broken with Democrat Andy Beshear’s win in the governor’s race (assuming the results hold after a likely recanvass and perhaps recount). The divided government in Kentucky will have a less dramatic impact on entry-level employers, as well as the broader business community. Even more to the point, Governor-elect Beshear is likely to govern from the middle.

Virginia and Kentucky are the two jurisdictions where the policymaking environment will change. Of course, last night’s results will also impact the conversation heading into the 2020 election cycle as well as impeachment hearings in D.C. On that front, Democrats also had a big night.

What Happened

After Election Day, entry-level employers have a new trouble spot on the map, Virginia, and there’s no reason to expect that the in-state dynamic will change anytime soon. Expect to contend with a flood of policy items that have been approved in other blue states.

Virginia also highlights another trendline that we constantly discuss – the ever-widening political, social, and cultural divide between urban metros and rural areas. Most of America lives in “blue” urban metros and those areas will continue to gain political clout in “red” states. Entry-level employers still need to figure out how to manage political risk in those areas.

At the end of the day, President Trump did not have a good night, and heading into the 2020 cycle, national politics are as volatile as ever. Every issue will be fractured through a partisan 2020 lens, likely leading to further dysfunction in D.C. and pushing most of the activity into the states. This is a dynamic with which we’re becoming very familiar.

2019 Election Results: Impact on State-Level Restaurant Employment Policies

Breakdown of Notable State Activity


  • Democrats took control of the upper and lower chambers of the state legislature for the first time in decades, earning a trifecta in the state (they already controlled the governor’s mansion)
  • Minimum wage and paid leave are likely to be some of the first issues taken up by the new legislature and also expect a push to repeal preemptions in the state
  • Democrats will control the state redistricting process, which should ensure they’ll maintain majorities in the legislature for the foreseeable future


  • Republicans will lose the trifecta in the state
  • Employers will have to contend with divided government in the state
  • Beshear is likely to govern from the middle
  • Expect the partisan split to keep extremes on both sides and lead to moderate lawmaking

New Jersey

  • Democrats protected a trifecta in the state
  • New Jersey is poised to tackle portable benefits and scheduling


  • Party control of the state will not change after a competitive race


Franklin Coley is a partner at Align Public Strategies, a full-service public affairs and creative firm that helps corporate brands, governments, and nonprofits navigate the outside world and inform their internal decision-making. Align Public Strategies, in conjunction with Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report), compiles a monthly summary of key legislative, regulatory, and political items that are important for senior HR leaders to be aware of. Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) Clients can view this report by logging in to their account. Catch Align Public Strategies at the 2020 Global Best Practices Conference in January.

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