K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Five rural counties in liberal Oregon vote in favor of leaving state for more conservative Idaho

Derek Hawkins

“Given the number of entities whose approval would be required, I just don’t think it will happen,” Norman Williams, a constitutional law professor at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., said in an email.

Even if there was support among Democrats, Williams said, “no legislature or governor wants to be one (I think) who goes down in history as having given away half of the state’s territory to Idaho.”

His proposal for Idaho to swallow parts of Oregon’s south and east shares DNA with a long-standing push to create a “State of Jefferson,” including Northern California and southwestern Oregon. But asking to join an existing state is a slightly less difficult task than forming an entirely new one. McCarter points to a 1961 land transfer between Minnesota and North Dakota as evidence that it can be done.

McCarter has called the effort “a peaceful revolution” and a way “to gain political refuge from blue states” in interviews with the Oregonian. He claims that relocating the border could bring tax benefits to both states and ease some political gridlock in Oregon.

A signature-gathering campaign by McCarter’s organization paid off last year when Jefferson County in the central part of the state and Union County in the northeast voted to study the proposal. Other counties added referendums on the move to their ballots.