Will New Colorado Become The 51st State?
Probably not. But the secession movement which has built momentum in several rural counties in northern Colorado indicates just how pronounced political tensions have become. And though some reports say the split was prompted by economic concerns and a lacking state response to recent floods, the leader of the movement himself says the main catalyst was guns and green energy.
“It really started with the last legislative session being the straw that broke the camel’s back between the rural and urban divide,” 51st State Initiative leader Jeffrey Hare told ABCNews.com.
“The two things that stood out were the gun control legislation and the alternative energy mandate that was forced upon the rural parts of the state,” he said.
Eleven counties have now put the question of succession on the ballot. If it succeeds there, it will have to be approved by the state legislature, and finally both houses of Congress. A new state hasn’t split from an older one since West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the Civil War in 1863.
Influenced by an increasingly diverse population and the growing urban centers of Denver and Boulder, Colorado recently elected a Democratic governor (John Hickenlooper)and Democratic majorities to both houses of the legislature. What followed was a wave of progressive legislation, including stricter gun control, a law mandating energy companies to increase their renewable sources by 2020, and marijuana legalization.
Hare, the leader of the secession initiative, also claims that the move is not partisan, saying that the rural part of the state “is almost 50/50 Democrats versus Republicans.” But an analysis from a local PBS affiliate says the new state would have the fifth highest ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the country.
The report from Summit Daily also finds that the counties in question receive more state funds than they contribute in revenue, while the 51st State movement contests those figures.
Movements to form new states are not exactly thriving, but exist in several other places.Counties in northern California and southern Oregon have promoted the state of “Jefferson” for decades; Baja Arizona, Western Maryland, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula all have varying levels of interest; and a Facebook page exists that essentially advocates kicking Chicago out of Illinois.