Baja Arizona to rally supporters Friday
Supporters of statehood for Southern Arizona will rally downtown and on 4th Avenue on Friday, organizers said.
The group pushing for Pima County to separate from Arizona, Start Our State, will hold a multi-venue rally Friday night, culminating with a performance by Brian Lopez and Mariachi Summer Camp at Club Congress.
Other venues include the Hut, the Shanty and Old Town Artisans.
The group called the event a kickoff of its campaign for statehood for "Pima County, Arizona’s hot bed of dissent and common sense," in a release.
Start Our State launched a petition drive last month, seeking to put a resolution on the ballot that would ask the Legislature to allow Pima County to seek statehood. They have until July 2012 to collect 47,339 valid signatures for the initiative to appear on the ballot.
The initiative, which would appear on the November 2012 ballot, wouldn't directly seek to create a new state.
It would ask the Legislature to give Pima County permission to request that Congress consider statehood for what some call "Baja Arizona."
The group has disavowed the "secessionist" label that some have tagged the Baja Arizonans with.
"Secessionists want to leave the United States of America," said attorney Peter Hormel, one of the organizers of the drive, during a Start Our State meeting last month. "During the Civil War—those were secessionists."
"We view ourselves as good American citizens," he said. "What they're doing in Phoenix (in the Legislature), with the states rights moves, the nullification of federal laws—that's secession. We want to remain totally inside the United States."
The Maricopa County-dominated Legislature doesn't serve Pima County's interests, Hormel said.
"Our representatives are overwhelmed," he said. The Legislature "is not sending us law enforcement money for the border. Most of our taxes are paying for infrastructure and construction in Maricopa."
"There has to be a way to make us heard, somehow," Hormel said.
Start Our State will circulate petitions to put the initiative on the ballot and offer t-shirts and bumper stickers at rally venues on Friday.
Creating a state from a state
Only twice before has a state been formed from part of another. In 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise over slavery, Maine broke off from Massachusetts to form a new free state.
In 1863, while the Virginia legislature was split during the Civil War, West Virginia was recognized as a new state by the Congress.
For part of a state to break away and become a new state, both the legislature and Congress must authorize the separation.