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Two conservative Oregon counties vote to join Idaho

It's a long shot bid, but the people demand better representation

David McNew/Getty Images

Tired of Democratic dominance in Oregon, some rural voters on Tuesday endorsed a plan to split off from the liberal state and join their conservative-friendly neighbor Idaho.

Two conservative counties approved a non-binding ballot measure to "Move Oregon's Borders" as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden easily carried the rest of the state, AFP reports. The measure failed in two other counties.

"In the United States, the differences between liberal and conservative... there's hatred there," said Mike McCarter, the chief petitioner of the ballot measure in Union and Jefferson counties.

"Populated urban areas are controlling the mass of everybody," he told AFP.

The Democratic stronghold of Portland dominates Oregon politics statewide. The last Republican presidential candidate to win the state was Ronald Reagan in 1984. Idaho, on the other hand, is a reliable Republican state that has not voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

Neither county that approved the ballot measure borders Idaho. Union County is in the northeastern part of the state while Jefferson County is in the middle on the western half.

The ballot measure requires local officials to hold meetings about becoming part of Idaho. Forbes reports that advocates with "Move Oregon's Border for a Greater Idaho" got the measure on the ballot as part of a "peaceful revolution" led by state conservatives.

Any proposal to change Oregon's borders would require the consent of the state government and of Congress, making the vote largely symbolic as it is unlikely either would do so.

McCarter said his movement speaks to what rural conservatives across America feel as Democratic strongholds in cities with large populations tend to control state politics nationwide.

"It's a definite clash between blue and red," he told AFP. "Indiana and Illinois have got the same issue because Chicago controls all Illinois. In New York (state), New York City controls all New York."

"It is just these large population bases," he said. "There's a constant rub going back-and forth on life values between urban and rural."

The evidence for this is clear as the 2020 presidential election results become more clear. States where President Donald Trump held an early lead on election night like Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have seen that lead diminish or flip in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden as major cities like Atlanta, Detroit, and Pittsburgh count their votes.

This effort to get two Oregon counties to secede and join Idaho is part of a larger dream McCarter and others have to see rural counties from Oregon, northern California, and even Nevada become "Greater Idaho" to better represent their interests.

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