Rapid transit and politics in Republican Arizona

Arizona has a reputation as one of the most conservative states in the star-spangled republic.  However, the three-year-old Light Rail system in Metro Phoenix points out the persistent diversity on the Arizona political scene.

Light rail runs from the edge of Mesa into central Phoenix, serving university campuses, the international airport, and the Phoenix cultural, entertainment and financial districts.  As of early 2012, it also ran through the heart of Democrat Metro Phoenix, crossing four of the five Phoenix-area electoral districts that were dominated by Democrats in the state House of Representatives — districts that provide close to half the Democrat strength in the state House.  One would almost conclude that Democrats (disproportionately Latinos, blacks, gays and young people) are drawn to transit-friendly areas.  [November 27, 2012: New maps, new state legislature.  The train crosses still crosses four state electoral districts, but the Democrats now hold five of the eight seats within the new boundaries.]  Continue reading