Be Careful What You Wish For, Weld County

Weld County Colorado depicted as Wyoming’s big package.

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.

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19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MichaelBowman says:

    Is there a limit to the number of useless initiatives they can chase? 

  2. Tom says:

    Pretty sure this will die a swift death as soon as somebody notices Wyoming's significantly higher oil and gas fees. Add in the recriminalization of marijuana, and it seems like this would be a pretty tough sell

  3. Cogito says:

    The Wyoming constitution permits only one state university and it must be in Laramie.  Is Greeley ready to demote UNC to the status of a college?

  4. 2Jung2Die says:

    I've read a number of times in this space someone saying counties threatening to secede ought to reimburse Colorado – maybe from CHB? But has anyone found if there could actually be financial conditions to a separation, not directly comparing anything to what just happened with Nolan Arenado? Just a rough estimate of what the state's put into UNC, community colleges, K-12 schools, state highways and maintenance, a state park, state patrol, economic assistance, etc.  would have to run a gazillion dollars or so.

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    I'm hoping for yet ONE MORE petition drive carried out by "conservatives."  Highest and best use of their time that I can think of.


  6. notaskinnycook says:

    What''s in it for Wyoming It doesn't even buy them another Congressional seat.

  7. Genghis says:

    As someone correctly pointed out the last time this came up, there's a no-fuss, no-muss way for these dumbasses to live the dream without incurring the wrath of their gods in the O&G industry. All they need do is pack their shit and gtfo.

  8. DaCashman says:

    The problem is that politics is way more polarized now than they were in 2013. The chances of this passing are very real, even if it only makes it past the ballot box. Dems will use low turnout as an excuse not to implement this. And we don't know if Colorado's blue shift has negated the effects of polarization in terms of how this vote would turn out. But it has a chance, and that could create some real tension.

    Also tbh, Weld County really is more similar to Wyoming than the rest of Colorado. I know this ballot measure is mostly motivated by anti-Democrat bigotry, and not a genuine desire to be with like-minded people, but the fact that it could have been motivated by such matters.

    Also, if I was a Weld County Democrat, while I'd mostly be against this, I would be interested in seeing Wyoming have a competitive congressional district made of Cheyenne and Weld County, and making Colorado a safe-blue state.

    • Duke Cox says:

      Interesting observations. Welcome to Pols.

      The hurdles faced by such a change make it a practical impossibility, so other considerations are interesting academically, but probably moot.

      An incredibly dangerous precedent to set.


    • kwtree says:

      I don’t think this has any chance of passing.

      But if it did, what the heck would happen to the immigrants and  refugees of Weld County? The dairies and meat plants would have to shut down or find a whole new labor force. Construction companies would have to pay all employees a living wage, instead of exploiting undocumented folks. 

      Weld Public Schools student population is ~ 15% immigrant, speaking over 30 languages. Many of these are legal refugees, fleeing war-torn regions of Asia, Africa, and Central America, trying to resettle in the US. 

      Why would these families, who have been through so much upheaval already, want to switch states to a red state that is even more racist and unwelcoming than Weld County, Colorado?

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