Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said the 51st state movement is halted — at least in his county — but there were positive benefits from the secession campaign.
"Weld County voters said this is an option we shouldn't pursue and we won't pursue it," Conway said Tuesday night. "But we will continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in this state."
Weld County voters Tuesday soundly rejected the 51st State Initiative 58 percent to 42 percent.
But in five of the 11 counties where the secession question appeared on the ballot, the measure passed by strong margins.
In Kit Carson County, 52 percent of voters directed county commissioners to explore secession and 48 percent voted against. In Washington County, 58 percent were for the initiative and 42 percent against.
Phillips County went 62 percent for and 38 against; Sedgwick went 57 percent against and 42.9 percent for; Cheyenne County voters cast 62 percent of ballots for and 37.7 against; and in Yuma County, 59 percent of the vote went for the breakaway and 41 percent against.
In Moffat County, the question failed, with 54.8 percent voting against secession. In Elbert County, 74 percent of voters said "no" to the idea of breaking away. In Lincoln County, 55.5 percent voted against.
The ballot question, intended as a straw poll, asked residents whether their county commissioners should takes steps to secede from the Centennial State.
Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton said Tuesday night that secession probably would not succeed. But he said the publicity would shed light on rural Colorado's grievances.
"We not only want to be at the table," he said, "but we want a voice at the table as well."
Proponents say they have become alienated from the more urbanized Front Range and are unhappy with laws passed during this year's legislative session, including stricter gun laws and new renewable-energy standards.
"The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple: We just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state Capitol," said 51st state advocate Jeffrey Hare.
Secession is a difficult process. It would require a vote of the state electorate or legislature, and then the U.S. Congress. The last time a state consented to the loss of territory was when Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820.