Voters in a half-dozen counties in rural Colorado have rejected a call to break away and create a new state, dealing a serious setback to an effort that always seemed a long shot.
Residents of 11 Republican-leaning counties cast ballots in an advisory vote Tuesday, a backlash arising from unhappiness over legislation passed this year by the Democratic-run state legislature, including gun control, clean-energy requirements and expanded gay rights.
The vote was the first of several steps it would take to form a new state, something that has not happened through secession in 150 years.
Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster, said the measure suffered from its seeming implausibility. “There’s no doubt people are angry and wanted a vehicle to express their anger,” Ciruli said. But once they conveyed their frustrations, he said, actually splitting off from the rest of the state was, for many, a step too far.
Voters in Weld, Logan, Sedgwick, Elbert, Lincoln and Moffat counties opposed the secession initiative, according to unofficial returns. The advisory measure was approved in Cheyenne, Washington, Phillips, Yuma and Kit Carson counties.
Weld County, where the measure failed 58 percent to 42 percent, is not only home to several leading proponents but is the most populous and economically prosperous of the 11 counties that participated in the vote, making it a linchpin of the breakaway attempt.