‘North Colorado’ struggles to come together

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Some Colorado counties feel politically isolated from Denver, but are geographically isolated from the new state they want to create.

At least nine counties are planning to hold votes on leaving Colorado to help form the new state of “North Colorado.”

But if these votes succeed, the counties must share borders with each other if they’re to form a contiguous 51st state.

That puts Moffat County in an unusual position, literally. Located in the northwest corner of the state, it shares no borders with any of the several other counties in the northeast whose residents will vote to break off from Colorado in November.

Yet its county commissioners recently voted to put the secession question to its residents, with one commissioner saying it’s time to “stand up against this soft tyranny that rules at the state capitol.”

“Many of us feel that we are marginalized at the state capitol,” John Kinkaid told the Craig Daily Press.

The question is what exactly will the county do if voters pass the measure, since they can’t physically join the other rebellious counties on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, unless the counties in between join the cause soon.

One option that is being explored, not just for Moffat County, is asking Colorado’s northern neighbor Wyoming to annex them.

It’s unclear exactly how that might occur. The section of the U.S. Constitution that governs the formation of new states is silent on the matter of one state annexing parts of another.

But it’s probably not worth the effort of finding out. Lost in the discussion about secession and its alternatives is the fact that Wyoming seems  disinterested in expanding its borders south into Colorado.

“The country and our state face many significant challenges at this time. This discussion does not move us forward,” wrote Renny MacKay, spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, in a brief email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

MacKay did not respond to a subsequent email asking him to elaborate.

Jeffrey Hare, a spokesman for the 51st State Initiative and a member of the Weld County Council, which supervises elections, previously told the Washington Times he’s not surprised by reaction.

“We would expect the Governor of Wyoming to be cautious at this point,” he said. “Any discussion of approaching Wyoming about annexation will be well thought out and well researched.”

“We believe our best of action is to form the 51st state and are focused on that,” he continued. “However, we owe it to the constituents of the counties that are participating to explore all options.”

In an email to the Craig Daily Press, a spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper said the governor understands the frustrations of rural counties, but wants to keep the state intact.

“We respect that some rural Coloradans are frustrated on some issues,” spokesman Eric Brown wrote to the paper. “At the same time, we look forward to building on the good things happening in all parts of Colorado.”

The secession discussion began after a contentious legislative session in which Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office. Rural counties complained that urban legislators overlooked their interests and, in some cases, willfully thumbed their noses at them.

Particularly rancorous is a new law mandating that rural electrical cooperatives double their portfolio of renewable energy by 2020, a requirement that many believe will raise utility rates on rural customers. Many who live in the plains counties are worried that Democrats will over-regulate oil and gas developers, which have invested heavily in the secessionist counties.

Initially written off as a joke, the 51st State Initiative has slowly gained steam. But the movement may have to move mountains — or at least state borders — to prevail.

Another county considering a similar measure, Grand County, is landlocked in the center of Colorado.

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Greg Campbell