Arizona Liberals Hope to Create America's 51st State: 'Baja Arizona'

Political tensions have been high in Arizona for a while now, but now some liberals are actually talking about seceding from the state. Lawyers and activists from Pima County, Reuters reports, are pushing to create America's 51st state, titled Baja Arizona and encompassing the Democrat-heavy Tucson and the southern county of Pima as a whole. The movement and  idea of Baja Arizona dates back to the anti-war protesters of the 1960s, but this year's renewed interest includes signature-collection for petitions and ambitions to add the question to the November 2012 ballot. As Reuters observes, the new state would beat several others in land mass (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey) and in population (Alaska, Montana, Wyoming or the Dakotas). 

A group of lawyers from the Democratic stronghold of Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive seeking support for a November 2012 ballot question on whether the 48th state should be divided in two.

The ultimate goal of the newly formed political action committee Start our State is to split Pima County off into what would become the nation's 51st state, tentatively dubbed Baja Arizona.

Backers have until July 5 next year to collect the 48,000 signatures required to qualify for a spot on the ballot. If they succeed, it would mark only the first hurdle in a long, circuitous process that even the most determined of supporters readily acknowledge has little chance of bearing fruit.

"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," Tucson attorney Paul Eckerstrom, a former Pima County Democratic chairman who launched the campaign, told Reuters. "All the stars would have to align for this to happen, but it could conceivably happen by the fall of 2013."

Read the full story at Reuters.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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