It isn’t just that secession votes failed in six of the 11 counties where they took place Tuesday. It’s where they failed, including Weld County where county commissioners were the driving force and public face of the movement (including nice rides on national television, complaining about the politics in Denver). Some 58 percent of Weld voters decided they like it just fine where they are, in Colorado.
Greeley Mayor Tom Norton, the former Republican president of the Colorado state senate, was against the 51st state movement from the beginning and he was reelected with 72 percent of the vote.
Some secessionist leaders were putting the happy face on their defeat, according to The Greeley Tribune. “If this turns things around and opens doors and people start working together more, I think all of that is a good thing,” said Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.
Steve Mazurana, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Northern Colorado, didn’t see it quite that way. “I think it’s probably pretty clear under any state constitution that part of the job of a county commissioner is not to be the spearhead for seceding from the state,” Mazurana told The Tribune. “That, I think, is not ethically responsible.”
Moffat County in the northwest corner of the state also rejected secession, refuting the efforts of some of its county commissioners. The Craig City Council was opposed to secession from the get-go, according to the Craig Daily Press.
So, what of the five counties that did vote to secede? For starters, the would-be 51st state just got a lot smaller. The five counties that voted for leaving Colorado – Kit Carson, Washington, Phillips, Cheyenne and Yuma – have a total of 29,405 residents. Republicans would outnumber Democrats in that new state, about 4-1, according to an analysis by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS. But the tiny new state would also be without Weld’s oil and gas wealth, without Moffat’s gas wells, and one in every six residents would be 65 years of age or older.
It was not immediately known whether they would pursue their ambitions, which would require a vote of the Colorado General Assembly and approval from both houses of Congress.