Colorado Counties Conducting Non-Binding Vote On Secession, Forming New State

North Colorado

Among the more interesting things on the ballot around the country today is a non-binding referendum in several northern Colorado counties on the question of whether they should secede from the State of Colorado to form a new state:

Residents of 11 Colorado counties will vote Tuesday on whether to secede and form the nation’s 51st state.

Proponents of the ballot measure say it is needed to give them a political voice. They say the state government, which is under control of Democrats, is ignoring the concerns of rural voters when passing new gun controls and energy mandates.

The ballot measure would only be a first step to secession. If passed, it would only allow counties to “pursue those [other] counties [in] becoming the 51st state.” The state legislature and Congress would also have to approve.

Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver, said political observers in the state mostly see the secession movement as a novelty without much chance of success.

“My impression is that this secession movement has drawn more attention from the national press than from local media,” he said.

The debate over secession is framed in rural vs. urban terms.

Weld County, located on the northern border of Colorado, is by far the most populated county, with more than 250,000 residents, to sign onto the measure.

Most of the other 10 other counties that will vote on the measure hold populations of less than 10,000 residents. Rural voters in Colorado gave Mitt Romney nearly 60 percent of their vote during the 2012 election.

Masket said the Democratic Party in the state has largely ignored the movement, while Republicans have struggled to respond to it.

“[Republicans] need to express sympathy with those who are organizing the movement, as those folks are very active politically, but they don’t want to be branded as extremists themselves, so they are largely declining to endorse the effort,” Masket said.

As has been noted before, the odds that this would actually lead to a serious effort seems to be pretty low. In reality, what we’re seeing here is the playing out of a political conflict between the urbanized areas of Colorado, where much political power now resides, and the more traditionally Republican parts of the state. Most likely, the conflicts will be resolved within the context of state politics, not via a secession idea that has no real prospect of actually succeeding. Nonetheless, it will be amusing to see how this turns out tonight.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Secession would have to be approved first by the Colorado legislature and then by congress. I don’t think either will happen.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    The extreme SE corner of Oregon has been talking about becoming part of Idaho instead. They are already in the mountain time zone and have a lot more in common with Idaho than the rest of Oregon so it might actually make sense. Boise is a lot closer than Portland. In addition they are politically more attuned to Idaho. Of course this is Eastern Oregon so we are talking about a lot of land and very few people.

  3. ernieyeball says:

    “[Republicans] need to express sympathy with those who are organizing the movement, as those folks are very active politically, but they don’t want to be branded as extremists themselves, so they are largely declining to endorse the effort,” Masket said.

    Where the hell is Barry Goldwater when you need him?

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
    Acceptance Speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    I’ve heard that the new state will be named Colorectal. The state flower will be Crabgrass, and the state motto will be either, “We can do less” or “Can’t do.” Actually, I hope that they secede from America.

    Just think, this is happening pretty much because we have a Black president. Amazing, that’s all it took to drive so many White people crazy.

  5. Gustopher says:

    @Ron Beasley: I’ve wanted Eastern Washington to join up with Idaho for much the same reasons.

    Eventually, we can have an Idaho with the population of a real state.

  6. rudderpedals says:

    @ernieyeball: I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
    Acceptance Speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate.

    When I learned that these bits are Goldwater’s defense of tailgunner Joe red baiting the sound bite became even more poignant.

  7. Scott says:

    It will never succeed due to the fact that two more senators from a low population red state would be unacceptable to urban America.

  8. Dave D says:

    Why don’t they just move next door to Nebraska or Kansas? Aren’t these the same people who say that these corporations deserve to have religious liberty and if you don’t like just find a new job? They seemingly don’t like the democratically elected representatives of their state pursuing the agenda more attuned to their constituents, so why don’t they just leave? Is it because relocating due to politics is neither easy physically or in the job market?

  9. Grewgills says:

    Because what we need is another small, rural, backwards state to further magnify how much that group is already overrepresented in our national government.

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @rudderpedals:..tailgunner Joe…

    Like Trickey Dick, McCarthy was the gift that keeps on giving.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Scott:

    It will never succeed due to the fact that two more senators from a low population red state would be unacceptable to urban America.

    And yet, it’s not urban America who is seeking to secede….

    Nuevo Colorado wouldn’t just be a “low population state.” They would be the smallest state in the union. And the poorest.

    This whole thing has been embarrassing. There is no chance of this succeeding. The supporters acknowledge that. It’s all about “sending a message.”

    These guys should listen to Ray Petersen, president of the Weld County County Farmers Union.

    “Action to withdraw into a 51st state does not solve the larger problems,” said Ray Peterson, president of the Weld County County Farmers Union. “All this will do is isolate us more.”

    Doesn’t solve any problems….just makes them worse. And it has no chance of actually occurring.

    This is how ridiculous this whole thing is. In Yuma County, the secessionist positioned passed with 81.4% of the vote.

    That’s right, out of the 70 people in the entire county who voted, 57 of them wanted to set up a new state.

    Or in other words, there are as many people in Yuma County who support a 51st state as there are people living on my block.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    Just what we need… Another Red State Welfare Queen…mooching off the Blue States.
    I say we jettison all these stupid f’ers and raise the IQ of America.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    That’s right, out of the 70 people in the entire county who voted, 57 of them wanted to set up a new state.

    That’s GOTV.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    Anyone calculate how much they are getting out for every Federal and State tax dollar they put in? I mean, we’re talking about farmers in a state heavily dependent on water projects. I’m guessing 3 or 4 dollars from the rest of us for every one they put in. Wouldn’t be surprised if its higher. No doubt they have an economy that would collapse instantly and totally without subsidies from the rest of us and yet they think their most pressing problem, the thing worth talking extreme political measures, is gun regulations? Like so many have said: you can’t fix stupid.

  15. Scott says:

    Sociologically, I am curious how a lot of these rural populations went from being prairie socialists of the early 20th century to the far right people of today. It is an interesting phenomenon.

  16. Barry says:

    ” I’m guessing 3 or 4 dollars from the rest of us for every one they put in. Wouldn’t be surprised if its higher. ”

    Rural, farmers, dependent on water projects……..could be 10 to 1.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    Sociologically, I am curious how a lot of these rural populations went from being prairie socialists of the early 20th century to the far right people of today. It is an interesting phenomenon.

    This is simple…they got theirs…now they want to deny others the same.
    It is the same reason you have an entire party of wealthy white suburbanists trying to pull up the ladder behind them. They are scared to death the “others” are going to take what they feel entitled to. They were all lucky enough to be born white in the United States…a damn lucky lottery ticket. Everyone else can f’ off.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    According to this Colorado actually recieves $0.81 for every dollar it sends to Washington.
    http://thecentristword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/red-state-socialism.jpg
    But I’m willing to bet if you break of the counties that voted to secede…they would be takers not makers.

  19. slimslowslider says:

    Is Bart DePalma running for Secretary of Greatness?

  20. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That’s GOTV.

    Sure. Just using the Post numbers, I count 85,302 total votes, with 47,537 against and 37,765 for.

    37,765 votes for a 51st state.

    To put that into perspective, there were 76,862 people at Sports Authority Field for the Jaguars/Broncos game on October 13th.

    The voters of these breakaway counties would need a plus one plus a thousand extra tickets to fit in our football stadium.

    (Shouldn’ta said that….probably hurt their feelings even more!)

  21. Scott says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m not sure. The northern plains were settled by Scandinavian Lutherans. The same culture created the Scandanavia of today but here in the US they went down a different path.

  22. James Pearce says:

    @C. Clavin:

    According to this Colorado actually recieves $0.81 for every dollar it sends to Washington.

    Ack…that still has us as a red state. Yikes….

    I’m not sure that’s the best measurement for us anyway. We have a significant Federal presence, the largest, I believe, outside DC. Not only do we mint the money and train the Air Force cadets, but we track Santa at Christmas. The Federal Center? Not every state has one of those…nor a Supermax. We’re, as they say, juiced in.