Rural Oregon movement to join ‘Greater Idaho’ gains traction with vote in 12th county
Several conservative Oregon counties are looking to break away and join Idaho.
Wallowa County became the 12th Oregon county to join the “Greater Idaho” movement when special election results on the measure were finalized Tuesday.
The vote originally took place in May, with preliminary results showing support for the effort leading by only 21 votes. After all votes were finalized in June, the lead shrunk to only seven votes, narrowly avoiding the state requirement for a recount.
The “Greater Idaho” effort originally began in 2020 as an idea for large swaths of rural eastern Oregon to secede and join the more conservative Idaho to get away from the western, progressive part of the state.
With Wallowa County’s vote, 12 out of 12 counties that have held an election on a “Greater Idaho” measure of any kind have voted in favor of exploring the move.
Support for a proposal in the Idaho legislature for formal talks between the two states’ legislatures about redrawing the border has been split across party lines, with Democrats opposing the idea and Republicans applauding it.
“I’m very pleased this measure has virtually no chance of advancing into reality,” Democratic Idaho Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow told Fox News Digital in March. “It would be bad for all involved and bad for the country, and I am opposed to it at all levels.”
In contrast, Republican state Rep. Judy Boyle said, “Yes, I am supportive of the Greater Idaho idea. I have lived along the Oregon border my entire life, so have many east Oregon friends. They have been quite frustrated with the liberal I-5 western Oregon corridor running their state and completely ignoring their values and needs. They have finally come down to asking the voters, county by county, if they want to join Idaho. Currently, 11 counties have said YES [sic]!”
Should the “Greater Idaho” effort be successful, Idaho’s population would increase by 21%. An analysis by the Claremont Institute also found that moving the Idaho state line could provide an annual net benefit to the state’s government by as much as $170 million.
Moving the Idaho-Oregon border would require the approval of both state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
Following Wallowa County’s results, the Crook County Court also voted in favor of placing the “Greater Idaho” proposal up for a vote on the May 2024 ballot. So far, Umatilla County and Gilliam County are the only Oregon counties listed in the original proposal of 15 counties to relocate that have not yet set up a vote on the issue.
“That’s what you call the skin of your teeth,” Wallowa County Clerk Sandy Lathrop remarked on the county’s extremely close results just barely avoiding a recount.
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