PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A federal judge struck a blow to rural conservatives who hope to constrict Oregon’s borders and create “Greater Idaho.”
The group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho wants a majority of Oregon’s land to be absorbed by Idaho, along with a portion of Northern California. They feel Idaho better fits their needs and values. The group’s president, Michael McCarter, recently filed a federal lawsuit seeking a reduction of the number of signatures required to get the initiative on ballots in rural Oregon counties, arguing COVID-19 restrictions have made it “practically impossible” to gather enough signatures.
Monday afternoon, though, Judge Michael McShane ruled the group had not “demonstrated reasonable diligence in collecting the required signatures” and therefore “fails to demonstrate any likelihood of success on the merits” of their claim.
Last week, McCarter told KOIN 6 News his group was “pretty confident in how the judge is going to rule” because McShane already showed an inclination to place the “People, Not Politicians” measure on the November ballot. The backers of the anti-gerrymandering measure failed to collect the number of signatures usually needed to qualify.
However, McShane wrote in his order that “People, Not Politicians” was completely different because the supporters collected more than $500,000 in support of the petition, sent out tens of thousands of mailers, and gathered more than 64,000 signatures, which demonstrated a “reasonable likelihood of success” of the initiative.
Move Oregon’s Border demonstrated no such likelihood of success, McShane wrote.
“Holding one rally, collecting less-than 400 signatures, and hosting a Facebook page does not constitute reasonable diligence when compared with other initiative proponents,” he wrote.
McCarter told KOIN 6 News the decision is not going to slow their efforts to get the initiative on the ballot in as many counties as possible. So far, volunteers have only gathered enough signatures to put it before voters in Wallowa County, he said, but they are close in several other counties, including Douglas, Union, Jefferson, Harney and Malheur.