Friday, February 28, 2014

Cincinnati (streetcar) beckons GOP convention

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Cincinnati-area Republicans are touting the city's amenities—including its streetcar line now under construction—as incentives for holding the the 2016 Republican National Convention in their city.

Local media, along with local rail advocates, find the tacit endorsement of the streetcar's looming existence interesting, considering the staunch opposition to the project by some of the same officials over the years.

That opposition has not been limited to just Republicans. Cincinnati's current mayor, Democrat John Cranley, campaigned against the project and, when elected last November, moved to scuttle it.

But Republican opposition to the streetcar was widespread, and virulent, among regional and state-level GOP officials, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"Isn't that funny?" Hamilton County Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou told local media on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. "I'm happy to tell you this on the record. It's been interesting for several Republicans, myself included, to list that potentially as one of the reasons why they ought to come here." Triantafilou opposed the project's establishment.

"Look, we get the irony in that," he acknowledged. "The flip argument would be well for one week in ... a lifetime, maybe not worth it. But that's OK. This project's certainly going to go forward in our community, and now a lot of us who know it's going to happen want it to be successful."

Cincinnati is one of eight applicants seeking to host the convention. Test running of CAF USA streetcars is targeted for March 2016, and hopes are for the streetcar line to be operational for the national convention, traditionally held in late summer.