"51st State" rallies coming to Zillah, Benton City and Wenatchee

The flag for the proposed state of Liberty.

ZILLAH — Efforts to split the state at the Cascade Crest heat up this month with state Rep. Matt Shea stumping at rallies and fundraisers for “Liberty State.”

Shea, R-Spokane Valley, will be the keynote speaker at several events focusing on why Eastern Washington should be its own state – Liberty.

“We are already two different states,” Shea said.

At least three events are being planned.

The first is the annual Douglas County Republican Central Committee’s Lincoln Day Dinner, from 5-9 p.m. Saturday, May 12, in the Wenatchee Convention Center, 121 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee.

While the dinner includes speeches by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and former gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Dino Rossi, Shea’s program “Liberty, the 51st State!” is the main event, organizers said, noting there is now a “well-developed plan” to split Washington into two separate states.

The second rally for Liberty state is from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Valley Covenant Community Church, 115 Glen Drive, Zillah.

The third is being planned for Benton City on May 19; a time and location have yet to be publicly announced.

Liberty proponents have already crafted a state flag, constitution, seal and more.

“We have received tremendous support and have had over 120 orders for flags based on my last count,” Shea said. “I have been and will continue to be speaking across Eastern Washington.”

Liberty state rallies and fundraisers have already taken place this year in Colville and Okanogan, among other areas.

This month’s rallies in the Yakima Valley come as many rural Californians push for splitting that state into three different states and urbanites push for secession from the U.S.

The rallies also follow legislation to split Washington.

House Joint Memorial 400 – sponsored by Reps. Shea, Bob McCaslin of Spokane and David Taylor of Moxee, was introduced during the 2016 legislative session and reintroduced in January. The measure asks Congress and President Trump to study the issue.

Creating a new state out of an existing state has been done before; West Virginia was carved out of Virginia in 1863.

And in Washington’s own history prior to statehood, the Washington Territory was carved out of the Oregon Territory in 1853 and became a state in 1889.

Efforts to split Eastern Washington from the west side date back to 1861.

For many years, the late Sen. Bob Morton of Orient led the effort.

Various proposals have been floated, including merging with Eastern Oregon, the Idaho Panhandle and both.

Over the years, organizers have cited numerous reasons for the need to split, including social, fiscal, lifestyle and political differences.

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