Pima County Secession, New State Measure (2012)
The measure would make Pima County a separate state from Arizona, if sent to the ballot and enacted by voters. The new state, according to reports, would be officially named Baja Arizona. The proposed ballot measure has been filed with Pima County, as of May 2, 2011, and can begin collecting signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group must collect 47,339 valid signatures from registered voters by July 5, 2012. The group Start our State is leading the campaign to place the issue before voters.
Paul Eckerstrom the sponsoring group's co-chairman commented about the efforts: "We're tired of the extremism that's been portrayed to the rest of the country and we feel that we're different down here. We're tired of being last in education funding. We're tired of our tax money disappearing into Maricopa County with very little benefit coming back."
Pima County supervisors state that efforts should rather be placed in finding candidates that better represent the area.
Text of measure
Statement of purpose
- The statement of purpose of the initiative, according to the Start Our State website, reads, in part:
The vast majority of the citizens of this State wish to preserve our citizenship and our rights under the United States Constitution and avoid another civil war. Because Maricopa County contains more than half of the population of Arizona, citizens of the other fourteen counties can never hope to take back Arizona government at the ballot box. Therefore, we must express our self-determination by breaking our political ties to the State of Arizona and endeavor to form a new State. We welcome all counties of Arizona to join us in our effort to secure the blessings of liberty.
- The group, Start our State has begun the campaign to place the measure on the ballot.
- Peter Hormel, one of the organizers of the drive, stated, "Secessionists want to leave the United States of America. During the Civil War—those were secessionists. We view ourselves as good American citizens. What they're doing in Phoenix (in the Legislature), with the states rights moves, the nullification of federal laws—that's secession. We want to remain totally inside the United States."
- Hugh Holub, an attorney in Pima County, claimed, "It sure sends a message to the rest of the world that we aren't like the folks in Maricopa (County)."
- According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, who plans to join the "Start our State" movement, the leadership in the state is not one he wants to be a part of. He stated, "It’s like a relationship. If people can’t get along, they gotta have a separation. The honeymoon is over.”
- Estrada further commented on state lawmakers by saying, "They’re completely out of touch. They care about nobody but themselves up there. They’re sweeping funds, they’re letting people die, they’re letting people take guns wherever...It’s like two worlds, they’re in one, we’re in another, and they really don’t care about the rest of the state.”
- Previously mentioned Tucson Attorney Paul Eckerstrom said: "We at least need to get it on the ballot, as a nonbinding resolution, to ask the people of Pima County if they want to be a part of Arizona. All the stars would have to align for this to happen, but it could conceivably happen by the fall of 2013."
- According to Paul Eckerstrom,, "What the governor has done with the Independent Redistricting Commission proves, again, why we need to be our own state." Eckerstrom was referring to the possible repeal of 2000's Proposition 106, which created the Independent Redistricting Commission by a possible 2012 ballot measure. Brewer also tried to remove Colleen Mathis from the commission, but failed when the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated her.
Campaigning, events and rallies
The campaign in support of the measure was scheduled to kick off on June 10, 2011, an event that supporters stated was a start to a campaign for "Pima County, Arizona’s hot bed of dissent and common sense." More about the event can be read here.
- State Representative John Kavanagh commented on the Baja Arizona movement by stating: "We pass laws based upon what we believe the people of Arizona want...Democracy can be a real pain, especially when you're in the minority position. But that's the way it goes; majority rules."
- State Representative Ted Vogt, who represents a portion of Pima County, stated, "I don't think a majority of Pima County residents want to leave Arizona."
- Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino stated that after almost 100 years as a state, the solution is not to secede, but to come together and make their voices known to state lawmakers. Nogales stated, "There’s a great future and better opportunities as the state of Arizona. When I heard about [the effort to secede], I said, ‘What’s up with that?’ I don’t know what benefit we would get from splitting.”
- Senate Bill 1070, one of the reasons supporters of Baja Arizona movement want to secede from the state, is the widely known Immigration bill proposed and signed by Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer. The law, signed on April 23, 2010, makes illegal immigration a crime in Arizona and mandates that state and local police question a person's immigration status if there are any suspicions that they are illegal immigrants. According to reports, key points in the new law have been put on hold due to a lower court ruling, to where Brewer asked the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn that ruling. Although reports say there is widespread support for the bill across Arizona, the Baja Arizona movement is not one of them, says the campaign.
Path to enactment
- Start our State must collect required amount of signatures before placing the measure on the ballot
- Voters must then approve of the measure, thus approving of secession from the state of Arizona
- The Arizona State Legislature must approve of the secession.
- The United States Congress and the president must sign off on the movement:
- Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution explains the legal process of partition and separation from existing states within the Union:
“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress”
- Baja Arizona: The 51st state? Efforts begin for ballot access
- Baja Arizona supporters file petition, expect to circulate
- Start our State kick off on “Free Baja Arizona Day”
- ABC News, "Arizona Group Pushes County Secession, Creation of New State," March 2, 2011
- The Daily Show in Tucson this week for an episode on ‘Baja Arizona’
- Say Hello To Baja Arizona -- America's 51st State?
- 'Baja Arizona' supporters celebrate own 'Independence Day'
- Fox 11 AZ, "Tucson group wants to secede from Arizona", February 24, 2011
- Fox 11 AZ.com, "Baja Arizona movement gaining support", February 28, 2011
- Arizona Republic, "'Baja Arizona' is a seriously funny idea", May 1, 2011
- Tucson Sentinel, "Pima separatists launch statehood petition drive", April 28, 2011
- Tucson Citizen, "Baja Arizona movement has its own web site: Start Our State", March 21, 2011
- Daily Mail, "The 51st State? Liberals in southern Arizona fight to break away and form 'Baja Arizona'", May 11, 2011
- Nogales International, "Baja Arizona idea has local support", March 8, 2011
- Arizona Republic, "Brewer's big boost to 'Baja Arizona'", November 27, 2011
- NPR.org, "A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split", May 12, 2011
- Fox43.com, "Liberals in southern Arizona seek to form new state", May 10, 2011
- Tucson Citizen, "The Daily Show in Tucson this week for an episode on ‘Baja Arizona’", April 27, 2011