The Greater Idaho movement announced that it will propose a less ambitious map to state legislatures as “phase 1” of the project. The map only adds eastern Oregon to Idaho. The map does not give Idaho any coastline – Oregon would keep all of southern Oregon west of, and including, the Cascade (mountain) Range.
The move is motivated by election results released last week. Klamath County became the ninth eastern Oregon county to vote in favor of a Greater Idaho ballot measure, but two counties in southwestern Oregon voted such measures down, according to preliminary election results. Election results improved significantly last week as ballots were counted. On Friday, Klamath County was 57% in favor, Douglas County 47% in favor, and Josephine county 49% in favor.
The leader of the movement, Mike McCarter said “if southern Oregon changes its mind, it’s welcome to join phase 1 or phase 2 of our proposal, but we want to make progress now in state legislatures with eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon has consistently voted in favor and so we want eastern Oregon’s request to join Idaho to be heard. There’s only a few counties left in eastern Oregon that haven’t gotten a chance to vote on Greater Idaho yet.”
The movement says it will submit enough signatures this week to put the issue onto Morrow County’s November ballot. It says it almost has enough signatures to put the issue on Wallowa County’s ballot, but prefers to submit them later so that the county can vote on the issue while the Oregon Legislature is in session next year.
Eastern Oregon is even more conservative than Idaho. The area of eastern Oregon covered by this proposal voted 70.3% Republican in the 2020 presidential election, while Idaho voted 63.9% Republican. In the last eight years, the area has voted 2 to 1 against decriminalization of marijuana and hard drugs, according to the movement’s website, greateridaho.org.
The proposal would put fourteen eastern Oregon counties and three partial eastern Oregon counties under the governance of Idaho. The area has a population of 386,000. This is 9% of the population of Oregon and 63% of the land area of Oregon. Under phase 1, Idaho would almost tie Montana in land area but have twice the population of Montana.
The movement is asking Oregon state legislators for hearings and for cosponsors for a resolution that would invite Idaho to begin talks with Oregon on moving the border. McCarter says that if the Oregon Legislature agrees to move the border, Oregon’s state budget would be helped significantly on a per-capita basis, and the Oregon Legislature would lose almost one quarter of its Republicans.