TEMPE, Arizona -- At first blush, alt-rockers Jimmy Eat World may seem like an odd group to warm up a crowd of 5,000 for Bill Clinton. But Clinton will stump for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona Wednesday night at a university campus near Phoenix, and like everything else in Carmona's tightly disciplined Senate race, the choice is carefully calculated -- in this case, to attract young voters who might be turned off by what they view as Arizona's four-year foray into extremism.
The Clinton visit is an indicator of the viability of Carmona's campaign. The surprisingly close Senate race is one of several signs that the Grand Canyon State is self-correcting, veering away from zealotry, favoring moderate politicians and policies, and gradually turning purple. And while prognosticators still expect Arizona to go red for Romney, a slow but steady political transformation is occurring on the local level statewide.
Many Arizonans have been embarrassed by immigration laws that have deeply offended the state's Hispanics, now about 30 percent of the population. Voters are upset that the Republican statehouse slashed funding for Arizona's public schools by about 18 percent since 2008, passed laws allowing concealed weapons just about everywhere -- including bars -- and meddled in women's health by cutting off funding to health-care providers in the state Medicaid system who provided abortion services.