A group of disenfranchised Colorado residents want to secede from their home state and change the county boundary lines so that their right-leaning county is absorbed by Wyoming.
Weld County, Wyoming, is working to place a measure on the November 2021 ballot that would instruct county commissioners to "engage and explore the annexation of Weld County with the State of Wyoming's Legislature."
The measure intends to "get out from under the thumb" of Colorado's more liberal government, according to the group's Facebook page created to gauge interest that has since garnered nearly 5,000 likes.
"Denver and Boulder have declared war not only on Weld County, but common sense itself with regulations designed to kill energy jobs," one November post declared. "Putting radical animal rights activists in positions of power over the ranching industry, two of Weld's key economic drivers. They are also at war with small businesses. People who hold traditional values are vilified as racist homophobic (misogynist) bigots."
An online petition with over 8,500 signatures also cites concerns about 2nd Amendment rights. "Denver/Boulder have drove weapons manufacturers out of the state," the petition states, noting that the two counties have chased oil and gas out of the state and caused the loss of local jobs and tax dollars. "Rural schools, hospitals and all rural communities are getting ignored. Denver/Boulder only care about Denver/Boulder."
"Now they are assaulting Weld County agriculture," the Change.org description continues. "From chickens to cattle, to placing a vegan on the veterinarian state board." The petition concluded that "Weld County's values align more with Wyoming then Denver/Boulder."
Over 74,000 registered Republicans reside in the county compared to the 44,000 registered Democrats, according to voter statistics reported on the Weld County elections department page.
"I'd rather my beloved county become part of Wyoming than live in my once beloved state that has been so californicated that we cannot even live by our constitutional rights and freedoms," commented Fort Lupton resident Christina Azua who received almost two dozen upvotes.
Political committee leader Christopher "Todd" Richards acknowledged that the process would be "long" and "daunting." Richards registered Weld County Wyoming last February, according to Colorado's campaign finance disclosure website. The idea came to him in 2019 after he read an op-ed in the Denver Post. He admitted that he considered the prospect the "funniest thing" he's ever heard.
The initiative will re-draw state lines to exclude Weld County from Colorado and include the jurisdiction within Wyoming's borders instead.
"Can this be done? Yes, it can be done. Is it going to be easy? No," remarked Richards at the Destiny Christian Center during the Nov. 10 meeting posted to YouTube.
"This has never been done before, so we're not here to tell you this can be done," pastor Geoffery Broughton insisted at the meeting. "We're telling you this is a hard thing that we think is worth trying to do." Broughton reiterated that Colorado is "at war with three major economic drivers for Weld County: small businesses, agriculture, and oil and gas."
The mayor of Erie, a town between Boulder and Weld counties, told Fox31 that there are numerous considerations Weld County voters must take into account.
Mayor Jennifer Carroll pointed to issues such as "income tax, personal property tax, corporate state income tax, retirement income tax, gas tax, severance taxes on oil and gas, and water rights to name a few." However, she acknowledged that she respects the "cornerstone of voting."
"Ultimately, the people will choose the outcome. In my role, I can help residents discover the risks and benefits of such a measure. This measure will undoubtedly require a great deal of pre-education for voters," Carroll stated.
USA Today reported that the reallocation of any county, would require votes in both state legislatures in addition to Congress. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican, represents Colorado's 4th congressional district which consists of Weld County.
Weld County, east of Fort Collins, holds more than 324,000 residents. Wyoming, with approximately 579,000 inhabitants, has been the nation's least populated state for more than three decades. If the grassroots Weld County movement were successful, it would boost Wyoming's population by more than 50%, making Vermont the nation's least populated state.
Given the large population, not everyone in Weld County agrees with the technical move. "I absolutely love living in Colorado. For those that don't love living here, there are certainly less ridiculous ways of moving to Wyoming," Greeley City Council member Tommy Butler told FOX31.
One radio station in the Cowboy State even compiled "10 Reasons NOT to Move to Wyoming" that includes too much fresh air and not enough traffic.
However, US News & World Report showed recent census data that named Wyoming as the top state travellers are trekking to. Nearly 5.6 percent of Wyoming residents lived elsewhere in 2018. More than 3,000 residents moved from California and Colorado each.
A similar movement was proposed in 2013 under the failed "51st State Initiative," which attempted to form a new state with several northern Colorado counties. The motion passed in five of the 11 Colorado counties where the initiative appeared on the ballot.