Saturday, May 18, 2024

Conservatives In Eastern Oregon Want To Split Away And Join Idaho

Thousands of Oregonians living in the the eastern and southern regions of what has become known as one of the most liberal states in the nation have announced their intent to leave — and take their lands and homes with them.

Many rural Oregonians aligned with traditional conservative American values are fed up with their state’s liberal politics.

By land size, Oregon appears conservative — with some counties voting nearly 80 percent for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. But the population centers of Portland, Eugene and Bend have elected a seemingly never-ending string of liberal state and federal legislators that have all but ignored their rural — and more conservative — constituents.

Idaho voted 63.9% for President Trump in 2020 and just 33.1 percent for President Biden in the last general election. The Gem State, Idaho, is already a favorite moving destination for Oregonians who prefer its conservative politics and lower cost of living.

The Greater Idaho initiative proposes redrawing Oregon’s borders so that about two-thirds of its land mass is annexed by Idaho. The movement has already gained support from nine counties in Eastern Oregon, and two more will vote on whether they want lawmakers to work on the logistics of moving the border.

“It makes more sense for Eastern Oregonians to get state-level governance coming from Idaho, where they share their values, share their culture, share their politics, than it does to be governed by Western Oregon,” Greater Idaho spokesman Matt McCaw told Fox News. “It’s always been a problem because the west side has many more voters…They have the numbers to dictate what happens statewide.”

That type of urban-rural divide is nothing new, McCaw continued in his interview with Fox News, but the case of Eastern Oregon is unique because it borders a state that has “almost the same values.”

McCaw said the secession group envisions a total 15 whole counties and two partial counties joining Idaho. Nine Oregon counties have already voted in favor of exploring the idea further and two more will cast their votes on the proposal in November.

If approved, the Morrow County measure will require commissioners to meet three times per year to discuss how best to promote their county’s interests during any negotiations regarding the relocation of the Oregon-Idaho state border, while Wheeler County’s measure would direct local officials to ask the state to proceed with plans for moving the border.

Preliminary maps of the proposed split initially included  the entire southern portion of the state that reaches to the Pacific Ocean, but those maps had to be redrawn after residents of two southwestern Oregon counties voted only 47 and 49 percent in favor of that alignment.

“Our whole core principle is that people deserve to have the kind of government that they want and that shares their values,” McCaw said. “So we don’t want to be dragging anybody into something that they don’t want.”

Even if all of the 17 counties involved in the split agree on a proposal, actually joining Idaho would need the approval of the state legislatures of both Idaho and Oregon, along with the United States Congress.

So far, Oregon lawmakers haven’t said a lot in public about the proposal. Idaho lawmakers have said more on the topic and seem open to the idea.

In a 2020 interview with Fox News, Idaho’s Republican Gov. Brad Little said he understood why Oregonians would “like to have a little more autonomy, a little more control, a little more freedom.”

Now that it’s been three years since the secession movement began, it’s high time for lawmakers in both states to start hashing out the details, McCaw told Fox News.

“We’ve proven that people in Eastern Oregon want to pursue this idea, and we’re going to keep trying to get as many of those counties as possible to get on the ballot,” he said. “But it’s time for the legislature to pick up the ball and start this discussion.”