The “Blue Wave” in 2018 led to significant Democratic victories around the country, but nowhere was this more evident than in Colorado, where Democrats now control all four major statewide offices — Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Secretary of State — as well as both chambers of the state legislature. This big “Blue Wave” in Colorado has some rural Republicans mashing the panic button and returning to one of the sillier threats in recent Colorado political history.
As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:
“We lost everything,” lamented Republican Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton.
He fears the Democrats “will just run rampant” when it comes to oil and gas and other policy matters, potentially prompting the revival of the secession movement that arose in some rural Colorado counties several years ago due to Democrat-led state actions at the time. [Pols emphasis]
“They don’t know how to act. They get power and act like little kids. I have a feeling if they go and start being stupid again like they were that time you’ll see that movement start up big-time,” he said.
First off, let’s not overlook the irony of this quote. Republican County Commissioner Shawn Bolton of Rio Blanco County is mad that his team lost last week, so he wants to take his ball and go home. But Bolton says that it is Democrats who “don’t know how to act.”
In 2013, a handful of Colorado counties put a “secession” question on the ballot that failed in embarrassing fashion. The entire population of the 11 counties that sought to form the 51st state of “North Frackistan” represented about 7% of Coloradans.In the final vote tally, only about 41,000 people voted “YES,” which works out to roughly 0.0079 percent of Colorado’s population. Rio Blanco County was not one of the 11 counties that considered secession in 2013, but if you extrapolate the same percentage of support for its 7,000 residents, you end up with about 55 votes.
In 2014, there was briefly a second attempt to revive the secession idea that crashed and burned before it even got out of the garage. In other words, there is no succession “movement” that could be re-started because there was never a real movement in the first place. But that doesn’t make this topic completely irrelevant for 2020, because it revives a question for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) that he absolutely does not want to answer.
At the time of the 2013 secession vote, then-Rep. Cory Gardner was still six months away from running for U.S. Senate. Gardner’s home county of Yuma was one of the 11 counties considering secession, and Gardner refused to offer a position on the subject. Here’s what the editorial board of the Denver Post wrote on November 1, 2013:
Ten of the 11 counties where voters will be asked to secede from Colorado next week are in the 4th Congressional District.
But if you want to know how the member of Congress from that district who lives in one of those counties stands on secession, or how he’ll vote, you’re out of luck…
…We understand that members of Congress may not want to weigh in on every local issue voters consider, but this is one of those times when his constitutents — and other Coloradans — deserve to know where a top leader from the area stands on such an important topic.
“When asked about the 51st state initiative previously, Congressman Gardner has said that he loves Colorado,” said spokesman Alex Siciliano.
OK, but does he love Colorado enough to stay a part of it?
Gardner is up for re-election in 2020, of course, and this is not a good topic for him. It would be very awkward to be running for a statewide office while continually dodging questions about whether part of that very state — the part that represents much of Gardner’s base — should break away from the rest of Colorado. If talk of another secession movement increases, so will calls for Gardner to explain how he voted on the subject in 2013.
“Secession” is a real threat for Gardner because of the political ramifications for his re-election. For everyone else, secession is like putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign for a chihuahua.