Studies of state capacity have emphasized structural and historical factors to explain variation in investments in bureaucratic capacity. In this paper, I seek to shed light on the process of state building efforts at the local level following political liberalization. One such instance occurred in Argentina in 1912, where the governing party universalized secret ballot in absence of large-scale political conflict or revolutionary threat. What effect does democratization have on local investments in bureaucratic capacity? This paper finds that in districts where the presence of bureaucrats deployed by the central government is low, democratization causes greater investment in bureaucracy. This effect is driven by increases in sectors traditionally linked to patronage, with null effects on agencies related to public goods provision.