Thousands of lives could be changed if 19 counties in Southern and Eastern Oregon were to join Idaho. And it all starts with Douglas County.
That was the message Mike McCarter of Move Oregon’s Border — better known by the catchphrase “Greater Idaho” — gave a standing room only crowd of about 500 people at the Community Conference Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
Douglas County is the first to have hard copy petitions circulating for a November vote.
“It is starting now, right here,” McCarter said. “You’ve heard of the perfect storms. It happened here.”
The response was overwhelmingly positive.
At several points, the crowd broke out in cheers and applause. When McCarter asked rallygoers if they were happy with their governor and their Legislature, they answered a resounding “no.”
McCarter also received a favorable response when he flashed his Glock 19.
McCarter, a staunch gun-rights supporter and firearms instructor, said after the event he has carried the gun everywhere he goes for 20 years, and doesn’t usually flash it. He just did that for this crowd.
Gun rights are one of the freedoms Greater Idaho supporters believe would be better preserved under that state’s government.
Although the event included prayer, Theran Hunt of Camas Valley was inspired to add another and was welcomed onstage to do so at the end of the rally.
“We know that you are a God of impossible things,” Hunt prayed. “If you can walk on water and you can heal people, a little border change is no problem for you.”
Hunt, the owner of Hunt’s Chainsaw, told The News-Review afterward he believes the Democrats’ carbon cap and trade proposal would have put him out of business because it would harm the timber industry. Republican legislators staged a walkout to block a vote on the bill.
McCarter said the Legislature doesn’t care about Douglas County residents.
“They don’t care about listening to our side. They don’t care about rural Oregon. They care about urban Oregon, and that’s the way they’re running this and they’re jamming it down our throats every which way they can,” he said.
He said he has no doubt that supporters will collect 4,000 petition signatures, more than 1,000 above the required figure, to get a measure on the ballot.
“No sweat. I know Douglas County. They’re coming in,” he said. “It’s going to be on the November election. Every one of those 19 counties are going to vote positive on the November election to get into the state of Idaho.”
The countywide votes would only serve as an indicator of public opinion, as approval from both state’s legislatures and Congress would be necessary for a border change. But McCarter said Northwestern Oregon should be willing to let the rural counties go because they pay more money into those counties than they receive from them. And he hopes Idaho will respond favorably when they see the votes.
Idaho governor says he understands rural Oregonians
The line would fall on the border between Douglas and Lane counties, and he said he’s sorry for those in Lane and Linn counties who might have preferred to be included in a Greater Idaho; however, he said they could move. Depending on where the line falls in Deschutes County — which would be split in half under the proposal — he might do the same.
“I’m sad to say that if the line settles the wrong way for me, I’m going to move 10 miles. That’s it, my wife is not going to be happy with this, but I’m going to move and become part of Idaho,” he said.
McCarter believes moving the Oregon and Idaho border could be part of the beginning of a broader movement, too, with people in states as far away as Illinois and New York seeking to shift their borders to separate from their urban centers.
“The first state to do it opens up the door,” he said.
McCarter said after the event he loved the turnout. He hadn’t been sure what to anticipate and didn’t know so many people would come. It’s an exciting moment, he said.
“This is not just talk. There’s action taking place,” he said.
He warmly greeted supporters who came up to speak with him after the event. One of these was Shawn Contreras of Roseburg, owner of Legacy Construction, who brought his two young children and asked McCarter to pose for a picture with them.
Contreras said he wants his children to remember this as the time when their Dad was part of the movement that made them Idaho residents and gave them the freedom and liberty he believes they will have there.
“We’re the tip of the spear to make that happen,” he said.