On Tuesday, voters in five rural counties in eastern Oregon urged county officials to begin to promote border relocation and joining Idaho. The counties — Malheur, Sherman, Grant, Baker, and Lake — join Jefferson and Union counties, whose voters applied to join Idaho last year, in their planned secession to what is being called “Greater Idaho.”
The group, Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, is behind the effort. In addition to rural eastern Oregon, the planned Greater Idaho would also encompass large swathes of northeastern California.
Supporters of the idea say rural Oregon voters are dominated by liberal urban areas such as Portland, and would rather join conservative Idaho. Last year, a drive “to seek refuge from the blue states” was stalled after petitioners seeking signatures to place the item on the ballot said COVID-19 stopped their efforts. While Joe Biden defeated former Donald Trump statewide in last fall’s election, the five counties heavily favored Trump.
We should probably acknowledge this deep-seated resentment simmering in Eastern Oregon. It might not be logical (Portlanders absolutely travel outside the valley), but it still seems to color this cultural divide — just look at the votes to join “Greater Idaho.” pic.twitter.com/X3YkE6Wtcu
— Jamie Hale (@HaleJamesB) May 22, 2021
“This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon. If Oregon really believes in liberal values such as self-determination, the Legislature won’t hold our counties captive against our will,” Mike McCarter, lead petitioner, said. Last year McCarter said that the movement was a “peaceful revolution” and that the vote would be a crucial decision between rural and urban areas.
UPI: Five Oregon counties have now voted to leave state, create "Greater Idaho"
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) May 20, 2021
The chances of those counties joining Idaho are slim, as any such change in the state’s boundaries would require ratification by the Oregon Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. From there Oregon and Idaho would have to sign a formal agreement, which will then have to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.