DENVER — State Sen. Greg Brophy, one of four prominent Republicans vying to be their party’s gubernatorial candidate next year, told FOX31 Denver Thursday that he will vote against a ballot measure for Yuma County to secede from the state of Colorado and form a 51st state along with other rural counties.
“It’s a drastic thing, like a couple that’s been married for 50 years suddenly filing for divorce,” Brophy said Thursday. “I’m running for governor to be the marriage counselor, to help bring this state back together.
“I don’t want the state to split up, so I’m not going to vote for it. But I’m glad my neighbors and my commissioners are talking about it, because what else can we do to get the attention of this governor who seems to only care about Denver and Boulder?”
Brophy’s comments come a day after another prominent Republican, U.S. Senate hopeful Ken Buck, told the Denver Post that he will also vote against a similar secession proposal in Weld County.
Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, has thus far been unwilling to reveal how he plans to vote on the secession measure.
In all, there are 11 Colorado counties — Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Moffat, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma — that have put such a question on this year’s ballot following a Democrat-dominated legislative session that frustrated many residents in more conservative, rural parts of the state.
Brophy’s state senate district represents 10 of them.
“This war on rural Colorado has to stop,” he said. “And that’s in no small part why I’m running for governor.”
While it isn’t politically advantageous for any politician running for statewide office, however conservative, to embrace the rather extreme initiative of secession, the movement itself isn’t something candidates like Buck or Brophy, both facing primaries in their respective races, will belittle.
“I understand why they’re upset,” Brophy said. “I am too.”
To voters in many of those counties, the state’s new gun control laws, a mandate on rural energy providers to draw more from renewable sources and the legislature’s work on legalizing recreational marijuana are signs that the legislature no longer represents their values or interests.
But the frustration in rural parts of the state stems from a more fundamental demographic shift, with urban population growth and an influx of Hispanic voters driving this once reliably red state to the left.
Because any secession effort, if approved by voters in those counties, would still require approval from Congress before a 51st state could actually be formed, the votes to be cast on Tuesday are more symbolic than anything else.
“I think it’ll pass and send a very clear message to this governor and this legislature,” Brophy said.