For the first time in its 126-year history, The Arizona Republic has endorsed a Democratic candidate for president.
The paper’s editorial board said Hillary Clinton is “the only choice to move America ahead.”
“Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “This year is different.”
I am originally from Arizona and was involved in Republican politics there for a long time, so I can tell you that this is quite a big deal. The political demographics in Arizona have been steadily shifting for decades as people from other, more liberal parts of America flock into the state. My hometown of Tucson is practically “Berkeley in the Desert” now, but much of suburban Phoenix is still staunchly conservative. That’s the readership that is served by the Republic.
I have friends who have complained that the paper has moved a bit leftward in recent years, and its comments on immigration reform in this endorsement certainly seem to bear that out, but this is still a departure that may not have happened had one of the more “traditional” candidates from the Republican bench prevailed as the nominee.
The editorial board of the Republic is most definitely not reflecting the will of the Republican voters in Arizona, who overwhelmingly voted for Trump.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Most conservatives I know in Arizona are not interested in the kind of “immigration reform” that Washington has been selling for years, so the newspaper’s board may really have simply shifted to the left and this endorsement was inevitable. As of now, Trump holds an almost negligible lead over Hillary in the Real Clear Politics average of polls in Arizona, so this move by the Republic might have some effect.