Rural Counties Propose Plan to Split from Colorado, Create 51st State

June 7, 2013
At the center of the effort is Weld County, with its 300,000 residents and booming oil-and-gas economy (Wiki Image)

At the center of the effort is Weld County, with its 300,000 residents and booming oil-and-gas economy (Wiki Image)

DENVER–There’s North Dakota and South Dakota, so why not North Colorado?

Some county commissioners, alarmed by what they describe as the state legislature’s war on rural Colorado, are hatching a plan to create a 51st state made up of as many as 10 northern Colorado counties.

And they’re serious. “This is for real,” said Weld County commissioner Sean Conway. “This has been building for several months. We’ve had citizens coming to our hearings for months asking us to please do something.”

He said it wasn’t just Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signing of a host of anti-rural bills, ranging from gun-control laws to the doubling of the renewable-energy mandate on rural communities. It was the way the Democratic governor and legislature dismissed the concerns of those living outside the metropolitan Denver area.

“They treat us as if we don’t exist,” said Conway. “It’s not like we didn’t try to engage the legislature–it’s that we were ignored over and over again.”

What helped pushed rural commissioners into action was this week’s Colorado Counties Incorporated’s spring meeting in Keystone. During the meeting, Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 252, the green-energy mandate, and the group received a legislative update from House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder).

“Dickey Lee Hullinghorst told us, ‘If you liked this legislative session, you’re going to love the next one,’” said Conway. “We were like, ‘Holy moley.’ People were literally gasping.”

To create a new state, each county commission would need refer measures to the November ballot asking voters whether to pursue the creation of a separate state with the General Assembly. If the voters approve, the counties would then ask the governor and state legislature to petition Congress.

It’s been done before, just not in 150 years. Five states–Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia–split off from larger states, the most recent being West Virginia, which detached from Virginia in 1863.

“Yes, it’s been 150 years, but I would say yes, we didn’t have a president impeached between Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, but that didn’t make the laws governing impeachment any less relevant,” said Conway.

Not surprisingly, the idea was greeted by a burst of smirking on social media, where the commissioners were accused of overreacting to this year’s activist Democratic legislative session.

“Utter absurdity!” said former House Speaker Terrance Carroll (D-Denver) on Twitter.

Liberals offered tongue-in-cheek suggestions on Twitter for names for the state, including Fracktopia, Tancredonia, Weldorado and Brophystan.

“Call us quaint, but we’re shocked to see elected county commissioners seriously talking about such a patently ridiculous idea,” said a Thursday post on liberal website ColoradoPols.

At the center of the effort is Weld County, with its 300,000 residents and booming oil-and-gas economy. County commissioners Doug Rademacher and Mike Freeman joined Conway in supporting the concept Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Greeley Tribune.

While Conway is a Republican, he says, “We have Democratic Party commissioners supporting us. It’s not a partisan issue.”

The commissioners said they planned to hold public meetings on the proposal before submitting ballot language by Aug. 1. Officials from another eight to 10 rural counties have expressed interest in the idea, said Conway.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner issued a statement to the Tribune saying he understood the concerns driving talk of a new state while stopping short of endorsing the concept.

“The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be,” said Gardner. “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame these people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders in our state.”

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14 Responses to Rural Counties Propose Plan to Split from Colorado, Create 51st State

  1. Dave
    June 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Maybe the new State should be all of Colorado with the exception of Denver and Boulder.

  2. June 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    YOU GOT IT DAVE. COME UP WITH A NEW NAME FOR DENVER AND BOULDER COUNTIES. WELL, THEY CAN KEEP THE COLORADO NAME..IM ASHAMED OF IT…and we can come up with a very manageable name. im for it. im in prowers county and we have alot of oil and gas here, we just need rain which i know the government cant provide but we could do a rain dance. oh well what ever. thanks for the info folks. best wishes on the new state. get er done…jerry .

  3. play nice
    June 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Denver and Boulder – the nine rings of Hell

  4. Bob Terry
    June 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Yeah great Idea…Make Boulder and Denver Counties a separate state.. Stonerville

    Tax dollars saved on liberal eduction in CU, Metro State and Univerity of Denver. It will be safe No police No guns Call boxes Safety Zones and Rape whistles on every block. They can tax each other into oblivion, no one has to work. It can become the Illegal bastion State… Hey they won’t even need insurance because they have drivers licenses. Dianna DeGette can really show us how this works… A total Utopia. The new state flag for the Boulder Denver state a sextant and the Northstar..

    I’ll vote for it right now

  5. Donald Kildahl
    June 8, 2013 at 8:10 am

    What a great experiment for both liberals and conservatives. Hard work verses handouts, clean living verses drug addiction, traditional values verses gay rights, small government verses big government, no state tax verses raising state taxes, and no gun control verses gun control. So lets all please endorse this and see which state comes out on top!

    • Bob Terry
      June 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Donald ya hit it on the head Ya Did… Like “Haywire Mac”‘s song Big Rock Candy Mountains … about a HoBo’s life of riding for free…handouts no Railroad police…Booze flowing out of the rivers…etc a Utopia and land for the oppressed…who need sactuary, without following rules…where everything is provided…

      W could vote on it…or protest it … or disagree with it…but when a liberal House and Senate plus the ol “GOV”…. the agendas will be forced and pushed through whether we agree or not…they are rolling the dice…So I hope North Colorado becomes a reality…one question though…Can Douglas county join ?? Please!!!!

      • Greg - from Castle Rock
        July 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

        I feel excluded as one of the most conservative counties. Douglas county is one of the most conservative counties in Colorado. Unfortunately, because we are south of Denver, there would have to be a DMZ. DOUGLAS COUNTY NEEDS TO BE SEPARATE FROM YOU HIPPIES THAT WILL DESTROY OUR ECONOMY AND RIGHTs.

    • keith Lucy
      June 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Please include the Western Slope in this. Let the Front Range have the present government. Where will the new State of (fill in the blank)be located?

  6. JB
    June 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Why not just join Wyoming? They have the right values and no need to set up a new state government.

  7. CV
    June 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I live in pueblo and welcome the idea with open arms. So please don’t forget your friends down south there are a few of us still here that haven’t been drowned/bought off with liberal hand outs. By the way,nicely put Donald Kildahl could not have said it better myself

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