In rural Oregon, voters in several counties want their state to go from Democratic blue to Republican red — and to do that, they hope to leave Oregon altogether and join neighboring Idaho. Five counties approved ballot measures this week, joining two others that had already voted in favor of the idea.

By Kelsey Vlamis

Five more rural counties in Oregon have voted to support efforts to leave Oregon and become part of Idaho instead.

The five counties — Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman — are the latest to back an idea put forth to Idaho lawmakers by a group called Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho.

An advocate for the Oregon counties’ secession stands in front of a proposed map of Idaho’s new borders.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The “Greater Idaho” movement, as the organization also refers to itself, has been pushing a plan to move Idaho’s border so that it encompasses more conservative counties in Oregon, Northern California and southeastern Washington — something that would create the nation’s third-largest state.

A map showing the proposed border of Idaho under a plan to annex some of Oregon’s land put forth to Idaho lawmakers is seen in an image provided by the group Move Oregon’s Border For a Greater Idaho.

“We promote the idea of creating a greater (bigger & stronger) Idaho so that conservative counties can become a part of a red state,” the Greater Idaho organization writes on its website.

President Joe Biden easily won Washington, Oregon and California in November, while President Donald Trump carried Idaho with 64%.

Movement from the ‘Greater Idaho Movement’

The five counties in support of the idea join two others — Jefferson and Union — who previously voted in support of the movement, which ideally hopes to flip around three-quarters of Oregon (by area) to Idaho.

Conservatives continue their push for ‘Greater Idaho’

“This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon,” said Mike McCarter, president of the advocacy group Citizens for Greater Idaho.

He added, “If we’re allowed to vote for which government officials we want, we should be allowed to vote for which government we want as well.”

All seven counties voted heavily for former President Donald Trump — whose name appears 17 times in the advocacy group’s 41-page proposal to shift the borders.

In the movement led by McCarter, conservative voters want to reshuffle counties in eastern and southern Oregon, making them part of Idaho. The plan’s backers want to get ballot initiatives placed on the ballot in more of Oregon’s 36 counties.

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Republicans in Oregon want to join Idaho

Despite seven counties now backing it, the push to secede is not likely to succeed. As Oregon Public Broadcasting notes, “the Oregon and Idaho legislatures and the U.S. Congress would need to sign off” on the plan.

In the face of those long odds, supporters of the plan say extending Idaho’s western boundary far into Oregon would benefit people and lawmakers in both states. They say people in rural Oregon have values and economies that more closely align with those in Idaho.

As the group also acknowledges, the strategy is a “long shot,” as the Democratic-controlled Oregon legislature, the Idaho legislature and Congress would ultimately need to approve.

Greater Idaho’s efforts, however, are not entirely new. Counties in California have voiced support to establish the State of Jefferson.

More recently, another bill introduced by Minnesota State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R) had proposed allowing Minnesota counties to request approval to be “excluded” from the state — and possibly join South Dakota.

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