Republicans Revive Silly Threat of Secession


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.

Shawn Bolton

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.

Everybody should have the opportunity to consider forming a new state.

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.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    So, here is an idea.

    Get an item on the state-wide 2020 ballot to merge Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.

    Let's see how the northerners like that idea.

    • MADCO says:

      I propose Colorado dissolve counties with less than 1500 permanent residents (human).

      And require the counties that try to/merge be contiguous, or if they are to be absorbed into a neighbor, the receiving county get to vote to approve it.

      • gertie97 says:


        Realigning and/or merging counties, let alone making new ones, haven't been successful. From time to time, residents of the Roaring Fork Valley talk about making a new Sopris County, since the valley currently has fingers of five counties within it. It's gone nowhere.

        Romer once suggested merging sparsely-populated counties in the San Luis Valley. He was lucky to make it out alive.


  2. RepealAndReplace says:

    I say the rest of Colorado should go along with it and the US Congress should admit the State of Northern Colorado as the 51st state PROVIDED that Washington, DC is made the 52nd state simultaneously.

    Gardner should like this since it allows him to remain a senator albeit of the State of Northeastern Colorado.

    Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

  3. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    My thinking remains the same as before. Let them secede if they want. However, as a Colorado taxpayer, I expect to be reimbursed for every penny people on the Front Range and elsewhere have put into these counties in way of infrastructure, educational institutions, etc. Reimbursement must be part of any secession and statehood act.

  4. MichaelBowman says:

    Speaking of sore losers. So do we know anyon who could stop this?  

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    What the Republicans in Colorado might consider, and this is just a suggestions, is…

    Running quality candidates on a platform that a majority of voters support.

    • mamajama55 says:

      What a concept……

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        "What a concept………."  One thing I have yet to hear mentioned anywhere is the stranglehold on the Colorado Republican party by far right wing, fundamentalist, Christians. The whole anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-sex education in schools, anti-gay anything, gig really needs to be minimized in the party platform going forward.

        Believe what you want as individuals. But don't try to force your religious beliefs on others and don't demonize others just because their religious views are different from yours.

        • Davie says:

          That version of the Republican Party born under Reagan, unleashed during the Obama years, will have to continue shrinking until they are small enough to drown in the bathtub.  The rise of the Unaffiliated vote might eventually morph into either a new party or, who knows, a revitalized GOP.

          Perhaps the spread of anti-gerrymandering legislation across the country will also allow cooler heads to prevail.

          Then we'll only have to deal with the RWNJ judiciary sad

    • davebarnes says:

      Not going to work.
      The GOP is the party of The Dumpster®.
      They could run John Love for Governor and I would not vote for him.

      A vote for any GOPer is a vote in support of an odious sociopath.

      I will not be happy until every Trump voter is ensconced in a FEMA reëducation camp.

    • Republicans might not have lost all of the tight State Senate races if they hadn't turned intransigent in so many negotiations, and so hard-headed on the sexual harassment issue. Of course, that's also defined Federal Republicans for a while now.

      Let me know when they're interested in actual democracy and I'll tell you when I might cross over a vote again.

  6. Duke Cox says:

    They will probably not get there, PR. The greed, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and other deplorable attitudes that propelled the "Hateful Yam" ( …not screaming so much now, so I took some license, Michael…) into the White House have been baked into the Trumplican© party.

    It ain't coming back. If a notion toward democracy ever exists within the Republican party, it will have to purge itself of T***p and everyone who supports him. The Republican party is terminally ill. Recovery is unlikely.

  7. JohnInDenver says:

    Maybe we can just facilitate the transfer of the population and land to Wyoming? Wyoming may be willing to expel Albany and Teton counties, the only places with Democratic majorities, in exchange.

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