Greater Idaho Secession Movement Gains Hold in Oregon

People in rural Oregon want to redraw the state’s borders and create what they are calling Greater Idaho. Motivated by what they see as overly liberal body politic in the state, supporters are gaining some traction.  

The proposed state would stretch westward from the coastal city of Coos Bay, Oregon, encompass most of Central and all of Southern and Eastern Oregon, and reach its southern-most point near the city of Red Bluff, in Northern California.   

Greater Idaho, as it is called, would redraw state borders by carving out large chunks of Oregon and Northern California, leaving Oregon with around 14 countiesmostly in the Willamette Valley—and Idaho with a coastline.  

Earlier this month, the group “Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho” was able to get petitions passed in two Southern Oregon counties: Josephine and Douglas. The petitions ask voters if they want their county to become a county of Idaho, and if enough people sign the petitions, ballot measures that propose moving Oregon’s border could be created. The group is planning to file petitions in 17 other Oregon counties.  

For Josephine County, the number of valid signatures required is 2429 signatures by Aug. 5, 2020. If this happens, then a proposition to move the border could appear on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot in Josephine County.  

BUT WHY REDRAW THE BORDER? The group claims Oregon’s government has become too liberal and rural Oregonians would be better served under Idaho’s more conservative government. Idaho has lower taxes, less business regulations, restrictions on abortion and less gun control.   

Mike McCarter, a 73-year-old resident of La Pine, Ore., a town in Central Oregon, is a chief petitioner and leader of “Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho.”   

Rural counties are “outraged by liberal policies from the Oregon Legislature that threaten their livelihoods, industries and values,” McCarter said in an interview with OPB.   

Valerie Gottschalk of Selma, Ore., a town in Southern Oregon, is another leader of the movement. Gottschalk told the Oregonian that “people here would prefer Idaho’s conservative governance to the progressive/liberal current Oregon governance.”  

SLIM CHANCES OF HAPPENING. Nationally, the most recent state border change took place on Aug. 25, 1961, when the border between Minnesota and North Dakota was relocated.   

The chances for Greater Idaho are slim: Even if a majority of voters voted “yes” to a border change in rural county elections, the final decision would have to be approved by all state legislatures, as well as Congress.  

By Tanveer Sandhu