As the Casper, Wyoming Star Tribune reports, Gov. Mark Gordon is giving aid and comfort to the longshot campaign by conservative activists in Weld County, Colorado to secede from our state and give our northern neighbors a penetrating new appendage:
On Monday, Gordon — appearing on Colorado’s KOA News Radio — said he was supportive of the county’s fringe movement to secede from Wyoming’s southern neighbor, adding fuel to a long-shot ballot initiative campaign launched last month that, if successful, would call on Weld County commissioners to begin exploring potential annexation by the Cowboy State.
“We would love that,” Gordon said on the program. “From time to time states have said, ‘Gosh, we like what Wyoming is doing,’ and we’d be happy.”
…If would be difficult for Weld County to actually secede from Colorado, even if it managed to gain the support of a majority of voters. If the initiative is passed, an actual motion to secede would need to be approved by the Colorado state Legislature and accepted by the Wyoming state Legislature. Afterward, it would go to the U.S. Congress for final ratification.
A stamp of approval from Wyoming’s Republican governor shouldn’t be interpreted as support from the state of Wyoming as a whole, of course, given the major demographic change that would result from adding Weld County’s 342,000 residents to a state with fewer than 600,000 residents spread across 98,000 square miles of territory. Weld County may be majority Republican, but do Wyoming’s rugged individualists really want to dilute their own power by making Greeley their largest city?
On the southern side of the border, Colorado Republicans need to consider what the loss of one of the state’s principal conservative population centers would mean for their ability to compete in future statewide elections. In 2020, subtracting Weld County’s just under 100,000 Republican votes from the statewide races would not have mattered much–but in a close race, like the 2010 U.S. Senate race decided by less than 30,000 votes, it could have been decisive. In short, Weld County seceding to join Wyoming doesn’t change Wyoming’s political composition nearly as much as Colorado’s, and if this unlikely campaign were to succeed it would only speed along Colorado’s transition to permanent Democratic political dominance.
Of course, none of this really matters because the chances of getting even far enough along in this process for our two state’s legislatures to actually consider this, let alone send along to Congress, at each step sorting out the political consequences that on balance hurt Republicans more than the satisfaction of spiting Denver Democrats could ever be worth, are basically nonexistent. Weld County, after all, was one of the counties that put secession on the ballot back in 2013, and it lost. Obliged though we may be to entertain these frivolous subjects when they make the news, there is–at least for now–no reason to take them seriously.