2 Oregon counties vote to discuss joining ‘Greater Idaho’

A majority of voters in two rural Oregon counties decided last week that their commissioners must consider moving the state border to become part of Republican-led Idaho.

A movement known as “Move Oregon’s Borders for a Greater Idaho” hopes to expand the Gem State to include roughly 20 conservative Oregon counties plus six northern California counties.

Measures on the Nov. 3 ballot in four Oregon counties — Union, Wallowa, Jefferson and Douglas — enticed voters to demand that county commissioners officially discuss the concept.

Measure 31-101 in Union County requires commissioners to hold meetings regarding the relocation of state borders; 52.42% of voters weighing in on the measure voted “Yes.”

Measure 16-96 in Jefferson County garnered more total votes (11,083) than this year’s county commissioner race (10,366). The measure passed with 51.02% of the vote.

The “Greater Idaho” idea was narrowly defeated in Wallowa County, where just 46 votes separate the Nos from the Yeses. In Douglas County, the proposal failed 56.73%-43.27%.

More than 91,000 Oregonians voted on the measures. In fact, more people voted on the “Greater Idaho” measures than on any other local contest in each of the four counties.

“We don’t have to live under the tyranny of Salem’s misgovernment. We are Americans!” reads a message to Union County voters on the movement’s website.

The site also lays out the long, tough road ahead for the “Greater Idaho Proposal“:

Relocating Idaho borders requires the approval of both state legislatures and Congress. This measure on the ballot this year is the first step, which will show state legislators that average voters want them to consider this option. It enlists the input of county commissioners in this work. And it shows how unhappy Union County is with state politicians.

There is a petition in Umatilla County to join what Union and Jefferson counties started.

“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners of the movement, wrote on the website.

The movement has support from some Republican lawmakers in Oregon’s legislature.

Rep. Gary Leif, a Republican representing Douglas County in the Oregon House of Representatives who just won reelection in a landslide, supports residents leaving the state. Leif even has a poster of the “Greater Idaho” map in his office.

“I believe that Oregonians will support this to leave Oregon for Idaho,” Leif told CNN earlier this year. “That is what happens when you get a super majority of either party in control.”

The Republican leader in the Oregon State Senate agrees.

“Oregon is largely controlled by one party that does not represent the entire state effectively, making the urban and rural divide striking,” said Sen. Herman Baertschiger, who represents Josephine County. “Democrats should be paying attention to how unhappy these Oregonians are with the current regime to seek secession from Oregon. I would welcome the idea to serve on the Greater Idaho legislature!”

Baertschiger chose not to seek reelection Nov. 3. Art Robinson, a Republican, easily won the race for Baertschiger’s conservative Senate District 2.