Mike McCarter, 72, a retired plant nursery worker and lifelong Oregonian, has been leading the effort for almost two years. He said he and many others are eager to “get out from underneath the chokehold of Northwestern Oregon.”
“We’ve watched the shift take place in Oregon politics where the primary concern of the Legislature is Northwest Oregon. That’s where 78% of the state’s population is based. They tend to forget that every law that you pass in the state affects us out in the rural economies, too,” McCarter told Fox News.
He highlighted a number of benefits that come with being a citizen of Idaho, including lower taxes and generally more freedoms. Idaho is ranked No. 3 in regulatory freedom whereas Oregon is ranked No. 43, according to the Cato Institute.
Oregon’s state politics took a sharp left turn during the past 20 years, something that has not gone unnoticed by more conservative residents in the state’s rural communities. McCarter pointed to a recently passed law that made Oregon the first state to decriminalize possession of hard drugs.
“Now you look and you say, ‘well, if you’re homeless, if you’re a hard drug user, if you’re a rioter, if you’re an illegal, come to Oregon – we’re a sanctuary state and you won’t get in trouble.’ And that’s not the way conservatives feel in Oregon.”
Portland has seen months of violent protests and riots with little government intervention since the death of George Floyd in May in Minneapolis.
“Idaho is not a sanctuary state at all, and they want to protect their citizens. That’s comforting, to live in a state like that who enforces the laws and not let the lawbreakers go free.”
A measure requiring local officials to meet on the subject of changing the border was on the ballot in four counties this past election. It passed in Jefferson and Union counties and was voted down by small margins in Douglas and Wallowa counties.
McCarter’s goal, however, is to get the issue as much attention as possible, since the final decision will lie with Oregon and Idaho state legislatures. The group hopes 19 of Oregon’s southern and eastern counties will secede and become part of what they call “Greater Idaho.”
If successful, the border change would no longer make Idaho a land-locked state, giving it two coastal counties, something McCarter said could be a key selling point for the neighboring state.
Move Oregon’s Border will continue collecting signatures for the May 2021 local elections in 11 other counties.