Hick Blasts Rural Statehood Drive as His Poll Numbers Drop

August 26, 2013
A Quinnipiac University poll released Friday found Hickenlooper running neck-and-neck with former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo 46 to 45

A Quinnipiac University poll released Friday found Hickenlooper running neck-and-neck with former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo

DENVER—Faced with declining poll numbers and a rural uprising, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper took aim over the weekend at the 51st state movement.

In his first remarks since eight rural counties agreed to place the statehood question on the November ballot, Hickenlooper said he believes the drive to split Colorado undermines the state’s diversity.

“There may be a political agenda behind secession I don’t get because when I think of Colorado, it means all of our diverse communities and people,” said Hickenlooper in a Saturday article in the Craig Daily Press.

Jeffrey Hare, spokesman for the 51st State Initiative, countered that the Democratic governor ignored rural communities earlier this year when he signed gun-control legislation and a doubling of the state’s renewable-energy mandate on rural consumers.

“We agree that Colorado has a diverse political culture. The Governor has failed to recognize that diversity and has instead chosen to pander to the urban culture with which he is most familiar,” said Hare in an email.

The rise of the 51st state movement comes as the governor’s poll numbers tumble in the aftermath of a contentious legislative session and his decision to grant a reprieve to Death Row inmate Nathan Dunlap.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Friday found him running neck-and-neck with former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo in a hypothetical match-up at 46 to 45 percent.

Meanwhile, 48 percent of those polled said they did not want to see Hickenlooper reelected, while 45 percent said they did. That’s a reversal of Quinnipiac’s findings in June, when 45 percent said they wanted to see him seek a second term and 44 percent said they did not.

Commissioners in another four northern counties agreed last week to place the statehood question on the Nov. 5 ballot. The counties now slated to bring the issue before the voters are Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Logan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Yuma and Weld.

The Moffat County Commissioners are scheduled to consider the statehood issue at their meeting Tuesday, while supporters in Morgan County are expected to turn in petitions Monday asking their commissioners to place the question on the ballot.

Meanwhile, Hare said organizers are in the process of policy committees in anticipation of a Declaration Convention in January. Other proposals under consideration include redrawing the state’s Senate districts to give rural counties greater representation, and asking Wyoming to annex parts of northern Colorado.

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, declined to speculate on the annexation proposal in an email Friday.

“The country and our state face many significant challenges at this time. This discussion does not move us forward,” said MacKay.

Hare, who sits on the Weld County Council, an elected watchdog group, said he wasn’t surprised by the response. With its vast ranching and farming culture, Wyoming is seen as a state more in touch with the concerns of rural communities.

“We would expect the Governor of Wyoming to be cautious at this point. Any discussion of approaching Wyoming about annexation will be well thought out and well researched,” said Hare. “We believe our best course of action is to form the 51st State and are focused on that.  However, we owe it to the constituents of the counties that are participating to explore all options.”

In his comments, Mr. Hickenlooper said he was willing to listen to the concerns of rural Coloradans.

“If this talk of a 51st state is about politics designed to divide us, it is destructive,” he said. “But if it is about sending a message, then I see our responsibility to lean in and do a better job of listening.”

So far Tancredo, who lost as a third-party candidate to Hickenlooper in 2010, and state Sen. Greg Brophy have announced that they plan to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2014. Secretary of State Scott Gessler is also considering entering the race.

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

6 Responses to Hick Blasts Rural Statehood Drive as His Poll Numbers Drop

  1. Bob Terry
    August 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

    If the Colorado State legislature and Gov Hick are so concerned about and willing to listen to Rural Colorado concerns…Why is it going this far, to make this a 51st state or become part of Wyoming? Because until this has been brought to the forefront, they didn’t care. Lets raise rates because the rural people need alternative energy? Lets say screw you and your guns and guns mentality, because we rammed Gun Control ( because they had to do something ) and thumbed their noses not only at the people of Colorado, but the entire state in general. Now they and the Governor are now ready and willing to listen …

    No they really aren’t…they are just placating to the masses..with the “we really didn’t realize” excuse. Governor Hickenlooper said to the Washington Compost, “If I lose I guess I be back to 14 weeks vacation … Hey let’s get him started on planning is 14 weeks.

  2. Christina
    August 27, 2013 at 8:59 am

    If Hickenlooper and the Denver Post believe this is ridiculous, why are they so concerned about putting it to the people? What are they afraid of? The United States was founded on the ideal of freedom, freedom from oppressive and overreaching government. Our founding fathers understood the weaknesses of men. They understood the money hungry, power hungry capabilities of human kind. They left us an option, an out should the government forget their role in our lives. Plain and simple. This is Democracy in action. Lest we become like the third world countries most people are fleeing to come here. Lest we become like those countries so many have fled and are here illegally, seeking freedom. Turning our country into what they fled from…

  3. Lynn
    August 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    My response to this backlash from the governor:
    Dear Governor Hickenlooper,
    It is important to listen…however, in terms of “Leaning In” as the leader of the state it’s critically important that you lead by taking action. You’ve completed 2 listening tours that I’m aware of in rural counties in the last two years – and while you may have listened, you have repeatedly ignored what you’ve heard and directly acted against rural areas. Which is interesting considering the core revenue that is generated in these areas and the growth in your state is largely being generated outside the metro area…as a former business owner yourself I would have expected a more business oriented approach from you and your decision making skills. The action that these rural counties have taken to put the 51st state on the ballot is NOT about being destructive, it’s about protecting the livelihoods of the people who live and work in these areas and quite simply they do not trust that you are able to make decisions that will not grossly impact their jobs, communities, business and future generations.

    These counties may not contain the same number of households as the metro area, but the decisions you are leading state representatives to make are quite simply doing harm…financially and to their way of life. They are out to attack people living in metro areas way of life, simply looking to preserve their own.

    Regardless of how the 51 st state initiative turns out…perhaps it’s time to “dig in” and decide to lead this state under the guides if “DO NO MORE HARM.” Which means to me – drive growth responsibly and profitably, pay our bills/absolutely no more debt, and focus on key industries that create long-term, sustainable jobs in ths state.

    Simply “leaning in” is quite frankly not enough …and I think you know it.

    • Bob Terry
      August 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Right On Lynn

      Well said and stated .. If only our representatives and senators and Governor would hear and heed that … Sorry that’s not on our agenda …how well we know

  4. Jim
    September 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Lynn well said,

    Might I add, I believe not only the aforementioned counties should be allowed to become the 51 rst state but all counties west of the greater Denver area should be allowed to dissent from the shady politics displayed by the present administration.
    I wonder how other states near the borders of Colorado would react if their neighbors requested becoming part of their territory. Let’s not limit it to Wyoming, let’s ask Utah, Arizona and New Mexico if there is interest. Let the Front Range fend for them self as they surely do not care about the remaining people of the rural state.
    I’m afraid even if state 51 is formed we would end up supporting the hick and front range through entitlement grants from the federal government given Hick and friends by the Obama administration for their undying support.
    Hick has displayed the attitude of what’s good enough for the prez should be good for the gov. It appears their thought process is;
    They know what is best for the people who cannot think for them selves, so to protect the interests deemed in their own minds as “important / self serving” they feel they can easily push their will through bye executive orders.


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