Idaho lawmakers appeared intrigued but skeptical on Monday when pitched a plan to lop off about three-fourths of Oregon and add it to the Gem State. If done, Idaho would become the nation’s third-largest state geographically.
Representatives of a group called Move Oregon’s Border For a Greater Idaho outlined their plan to a joint meeting of the Idaho House and Senate Monday. The Idaho Legislature would have to approve the plan that would expand Idaho’s southwestern border to the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Legislature and the U.S. Congress would also have to sign off.
Supporters of the idea said rural Oregon voters are dominated by liberal urban areas such as Portland, and would rather join conservative Idaho. Portland would remain with Oregon.
“There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon between northwest Oregon and rural Oregon, and it’s getting larger,” Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, told Idaho lawmakers.
If everything falls in line with Oregon, supporters envision also adding adjacent portions of southeastern Washington and northern California to Idaho. Backers said residents in those areas also yearn for less government oversight and long to become part of a red state insulated from the liberal influence of large urban centers that tend to vote Democratic.
“Values of faith, family, independence. That’s what we’re about,” said Mark Simmons, an eastern Oregon rancher and former speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives. “We don’t need the state breathing down our necks all the time, micromanaging our lives and trying to push us into a foreign way of living.”
President Joe Biden easily won Washington, Oregon and California in November, while President Donald Trump carried Idaho with 64%. The Idaho House and Senate each have supermajorities of Republicans.
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