Oregon senator Dennis Linthicum is moving forward with his proposed plan to hand 65% of the state to Idaho in an effort to help quell its political divide.
As part of the Greater Idaho bill, 11 heavily republican counties in Eastern Oregon would secede from the Beaver State and join its red neighbor.
“Eastern Oregon is culturally, politically, economically much more similar to Idaho than it is to western Oregon,” Matt McCaw, a spokesman for the Greater Idaho Movement, said. “Our movement is about self-determination and matching people to government that they want and that matches their values. In Oregon, we’ve had this urban-rural divide for a very long time.”
Residents have been pushing the concept for a few years. But it didn’t gain any traction until the 2022 elections, which saw a Republican nearly take the governor seat for the first time in 35 years.
Several More Eastern Oregon Counties Are Considering Joining the ‘Greater Idaho’ Movement
The original 11 counties officially voted in favor of becoming members of the Gem State late last year. And four more, including Wallowa, are considering joining them.
“Our proposal is to take that border between Oregon and Idaho, which was set almost 200 years ago in a very different time when there was only 50,000 people in the state of Oregon,” McCaw added.”…It made sense then. It doesn’t make sense now to have that border there because that’s not where the cultural divide is.”
Idaho is a staunchly conservative state, which has a 28-7 Republican majority in the state senate and a 58-12 majority in the state legislature. A Democratic governor hasn’t been elected in Idaho since 1995.
“The policy and the government that works for western Oregon, that western Oregonians want, does not work in eastern Oregon. And it’s not what eastern Oregonians want,” noted McCaw.
If the plan continues to gander support from locals, Idaho, Oregon, and U.S. Congress would have to approve and finalize it. Idaho Governor Brad Little believes that those lawmakers will stand in the way. So he doesn’t have a lot of hope that he will absorb the counties. And several others believe that Greater Idaho is already dead in the water.
However, McCaw has a different perspective. And he believes the overwhelming support will finally bring closure to the plan.
“We have been to the legislature in Idaho. We have a lot of support in legislature in Idaho for this idea,” he shared. “They see the benefit of bringing 400,000 like-minded people into their state. It makes Idaho stronger; it gives people the government they want and it’s a win-win for everybody involved.”