51st State Drive Gains Foothold On Western Slope

August 28, 2013
Moffat County is looking at

Moffat County will have a vote on joining a 51st state on the ballot

DENVER — As a bar owner, Tom Mathers has seen his share of brawls, but those are nothing compared with the battles he’s waged at the state capitol.

“I’ve never lost a bar fight, but in 11 years as a county commissioner, I’ve never won a fight with the state,” said Mathers, who sits on the Moffat County Commissioners.

That was one reason Mathers voted Tuesday in favor of the 51st State Initiative, a ballot measure on carving a separate state from rural northern Colorado counties. The commissioners approved the proposal by a vote of 2-1, making Moffat the ninth county to add the referendum to the Nov. 5 ballot.

“The Front Range makes all the decisions for the state, and we have no representation in rural Colorado,” said Mathers, owner of Mathers Club in Craig. “They’re constantly making new rules that affect us and not them, and they’re killing our economy.”

The Moffat County vote comes as something of a milestone for the movement. So far Moffat, located in the state’s northwestern corner, is the only Western Slope county to join the effort.

“It’s kind of an island out there in that it’s not attached to the northeast area,” said Jeffrey Hare, spokesman for the 51st State Initiative. “We think this will spread down the Western Slope, just maybe not quickly.”

Hare said at least three more counties—Grand, Elbert and Morgan–are considering adding the 51st state proposal to their November ballots before the Sept. 5 deadline.

The ballot measure is designed to gauge support for the proposal to create a 51st state, tentatively named Northern Colorado. The group plans to bring the election results to the attention of the state legislature, which would have to vote to send the proposal to Congress for approval.

Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t thrilled with the idea, telling the Craig Daily Press last week that the movement undermines the state’s diversity. Rural lawmakers argue that their interests have been undermined for years by the liberal Denver-Boulder corridor.

“Many of us here in Moffat County feel marginalized, feel like we’ve been disenfranchised by what’s happening in the state capitol by the Denver and Boulder elite,” said Moffat County Commissioner John Kincaid. “It’s time to stand up to the soft tyranny we’ve been experiencing for the last several years.”

Proponents of the statehood drive bring up the state legislature’s gun-control bills and doubling of the renewable-energy mandate on rural areas, but Kincaid said Moffat Count is still feeling the effects of a 2010 law, House Bill 1365, which compels power plants to move from coal to natural gas.

Moffat County is home to about 13,000 residents and three coal mines, and “this war on coal is costing us jobs,” said Kincaid.

The Craig Daily Press came out against the idea in an editorial, saying the commissioners should try instead to work with the governor.

“We understand the feeling of disconnect,” said newspaper in an Aug. 24 editorial. “What we want to see is the commissioners be proactive by opening discussions with lawmakers from the Front Range, not reactive by separating themselves from the state.”

Still, interest in the statehood idea is spreading quickly in rural communities. Plans are afoot to discuss the proposal at Club 20, Colorado Counties Inc., and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

For those who call the 51st state path unrealistic, organizers say they’re also interested in exploring the idea of redrawing the state Senate by giving each of the state’s 64 counties one senator, which would increase the clout of rural communities.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Moffat County, Mathers said interest in the proposal was high among constituents who packed the commission room.

“They were hanging out the widows,” said Mathers. “The support was there.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

8 Responses to 51st State Drive Gains Foothold On Western Slope

  1. Bob Terry
    August 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Coal Bad word Obama Job’s Obama Unions Colorado State Democrats Job’s …but when it comes down to Brass Tax … LOL they really couldn’t care less. You have NIMBY Jared why someone is drilling or exploring, not on my property but “sniff wimper” I’m a refugee and I am in this with my holdings but they shouldn’t crap.. We have Maggie Fox…Mark Udall’s wife and this milk toast saying one thing and undermining the western slope with his and her BS..
    Okay I am for Northern Colorado…but it ain’t happening with this FEDERAL Government Senate or this State legislature …BUT what can happen is vote these losers out…PERIOD don’t give them a foothold to control your life or states well being, while touting how they are for you.

    I can guarantee Jared or Dianna..Bennett or Udall really didn’t give a good GD as long as they have the energy they need for THEM.. Those that dig coal or run freights..unload at the utility at all hours of the day and night 24/7 .. Later that’s what you get paid for …till we can eliminate your job…while stating we need more jobs and working toward that effort… Tar and feather that’s the appropriate reward for this double speak crap our Representatives tout… Morse, Giron are now on the hot seat.. maybe you are NEXT!!

  2. Mike Attebery
    August 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Bob, You state “what can happen is we can vote these losers out”. That’s just the point. We can’t. Every precinct up here can vote all the same and Denver will overide us all. Our votes don’t count. We have no representation that amounts to crap. Tired of it. Colorado isn’t the same Colorado any longer. Democratic liberals have Californicated this state to death.

    • Bob Terry
      August 29, 2013 at 7:50 am

      No Colorado is not the Colorado I knew … And the rural counties and the Western slope are the ones left outside looking in..The biggest problem we face in Colorado is the influx of Democrats from California and those that vote thinking they are getting something…I hope with what occurred with the current Governor and the Democrat House and Senate…eyes were opened..that showed them We’re doing what We want and when We want your imput and comments we’ll consider them …Right now we’re all in left field.

  3. August 29, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I am a Montrose resident and I say that this is long overdue. However, I venture that we deem our new state which should include all counties outside of Denver/Boulder: Outer Colorado!

    • Annie Long
      August 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I concur! I’m also a Montrose County resident. However, I’m not so sure San Miguel County will be on board, they have more of the Boulder mentality.

  4. Steve
    August 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Just thinking outloud: Why should the reasonable and practical minded people of Colorado be forced to ‘leave’ and create the next state? Like Mike said, it has been the ‘California mentality’ brought to Denver/Boulder that has ruined what was once a good and pleasant place to live, politically speaking. I wold far-more prefer to give Denver to Dianna and Mark, and whichever other of the D.C. shills that want it all to themselves. Let them decide what to do with their little acre of hell. Leave the rest of us to enjoy the beauty that is Colorado, without being forced to support their liberal initiatives.

  5. August 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I think we need to get all western slope counties in this I live in Cortez if we join in they will cry cuzz the 4 corners & mesa Verde will no longer be there for them to use as selling point for visitors to come who wants to see down town Denver but bring it on we need relief from east slope liberals down here Too

  6. Henry
    August 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Check Supreme Court decisions but population has to be considered in drawing state senate districts, not just counties, I think.


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