Three counties in western Maryland have formally requested to secede from their current state government and join that of neighboring West Virginia, and, according to the Daily Caller, they have already received hearty words of encouragement and welcome from Republican Gov. Jim Justice.
On Thursday, lawmakers from three GOP-led counties in Maryland sent letters to West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) as well as state Senate President Craig Blair (R) proposing that they leave their current state affiliation behind and join forces with their neighbors in a “mutually beneficial” union that they believe would better align with the prevailing values of their communities, according to Fox News.
In comments supportive of the effort by the Maryland counties to join his state, Justice proudly declared, “We’ve got it going on right now in West Virginia. We are knocking it out of the part. Why wouldn’t you want to come?”
Touting the many reasons why like-minded conservatives would be eager to leave Maryland behind, Justice added, “Our state supports personal freedoms, we value the Second Amendment, and we love the rights of the unborn. We love and embrace our energy industry.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Blair, who said, according to Fox News, “I would be more than happy to welcome my friends and neighbors from Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties into West Virginia.”
Blair continued, “This request is recognition of the word we have done to transform the state, and I welcome my friends and neighbors across the border in Maryland to join us as we keep moving forward.”
The counties at issue, Allegany, Garrett, and Washington, are three heavily-Republican areas in a state largely dominated by Democrats, and while the region enjoyed the conservative representation of lawmaker Roscoe Bartlett until 2010, the state legislature ultimately reconfigured the district in such a way as to shift its electorate to the left.
Indeed, according to the Daily Wire, former Gov. Martin O’Malley acknowledged in 2017 that the district was redrawn with the intention of creating “a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican,” leading to the conditions that have now prompted the secession request.
Despite Gov. Justice’s warm expressions of welcome and his willingness to call a special legislative session to consider the proposal, the hopeful secessionists still have a high hurdle to clear, given that even if West Virginia says yes, the Maryland legislature as well as Congress would also have to vote to permit the change, a process that has occurred just three times in the nation’s history.