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Divided country sparking efforts to create new states

Disgruntled voters in a number of states likes these in Maryland have launched a number of new efforts to secede and form new states. Could Washington follow? (AP file)

It’s one of the greatest political gaffes of all time: a weary then-senator Barack Obama saying he’d campaigned in all 57 states during the 2008 campaign. But that might not be as far-fetched as it seems.

Eleven rural Colorado counties are threatening to secede from the state over a long-standing political divide between rural and city voters.

While it would take all sorts of legal wrangling to make a new state a reality, the measure has a good chance of passing. And people here can certainly relate.

“There’s been lots of talk about separating east and west for years,” says KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

It’s understandable. Whether it’s the governor’s race or contentious issues like gay marriage, voters around the state are often on the losing side of the Puget Sound area, especially Seattle. There’s been plenty of talk over the years about splitting the state into two.

“You see a state where people in Eastern Washington just don’t feel represented in statewide politics,” says Dori. “Some people would say this is just foolishness, but this movement is growing.”

Five counties in Maryland, several rural Northern California counties and others in Illinois have all talked about seceding and forming new states that better represent their interests.

“I think it’s a little pie in the sky, but stranger things have happened and a lot of people are getting energized by what’s happening in Colorado,” says Dori.

“A lot of conservative people are saying, look our values are just not represented and we’ve got to find a way.”

Will it work? Colorado will be an interesting test case. But even if the voters say yes, it would still take approval from the state Legislature and Congress.

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