West Virginia—itself a product of intrastate secession during the Civil War—could gain three new counties currently part of western Maryland on the off chance that lawmakers in both states agree.
Six Republican lawmakers from Maryland’s three westernmost counties—Garrett, Allegany, and Washington—wrote to Republican legislative leaders in West Virginia earlier this month with a request that they “advise on [the] next steps” to join The Mountain State.
“We believe this arrangement may be mutually beneficial for both states and for our local constituencies.”
Western Maryland is much more rural and conservative than the rest of the state, which is dominated by the deep blue Baltimore metro area and its resident federal government employees and lobbyists.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t feel there is a strong sense of unrest and unhappiness among people in our rural area of the state,” said Wendell Beitzel, a Western Maryland delegate and cosigner of the letter.
Virginia is the only state to successfully split apart, and it took a war for that to happen. But there are other rearrange-the-pieces efforts to split counties off one state and tack them onto another. Earlier this year, five eastern Oregon counties petitioned to become part of Idaho.
There are even attempts to create all-new states out of parts of several neighboring states. The most famous is probably the proposed state of Jefferson that would be carved out of southwestern Oregon and northern California.
Energy-rich Weld County, Colorado, is frankly sick of the state government trying to shut them down, and commissioners there have lobbied to have Weld and several other northeastern counties become North Colorado.
None of these movements have accomplished much, and it doesn’t seem likely that much will happen regarding western Maryland and West Virginia, no matter how much sense it makes. Aside, that is, from giving rural residents a chance to vent some well-earned frustrations with Maryland’s uncaring city-slicker government.
Besides, for the move to happen, it would have to be approved by the GOP-dominated West Virginia legislature, the Democrat-dominated Maryland legislature, and the US Congress. There’s absolutely no reason that Maryland would allow itself to be shorn, just to make a Red State bigger.
In my personal opinion, Maryland is such an oddly shaped and poorly governed state that the whole thing should be broken up and attached to various neighboring states.
As for Baltimore, it’s sunk so low into crime and corruption—a true “wretched hive of scum and villainy“—that a few hardy survivors ought to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.
It’s the only way to be sure.