Baja Arizona…a basic primer on America’s 51st (maybe) state

Baja Arizona started off as a joke in the Frumious Bandersnatch 46 years ago…could this be the first state that started with a joke?

Press Release February 22, 2011:


Start Our State (SOS) has been formally established as a political
committee registered in Pima County. SOS is dedicated to creating
the 51st American state in Southern Arizona, separating us from the
extremists in Phoenix. Our mission is to establish a new state in
Southern Arizona free of the un-American, unconstitutional
machinations of the Phoenix-controlled Arizona legislature and to
restore our region’s credibility as a place welcoming to others, open
to commerce, and friendly to its neighbors. Our first and immediate
goal is to place a referendum before the voters of Pima County on the
2012 ballot on the question of statehood.

We welcome other Arizona counties that wish to join this effort. In the
meantime, we shouldn’t forget that, with a population of 1,020,200
(2009), Pima County has more people than Montana, Delaware,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. With
an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima County is bigger than Vermont,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode
Island. There is legal precedent for the separation of a portion of an
existing state from the original state in order to form a new one. In
1820, Maine split off from Massachusetts and was admitted to the
Union as the 23rd state.

SOS Co-chairs: Paul Eckerstrom, Peter Hormel
SOS Treasurer: David Euchner

See  Facebook page: Save our state

Resulting news:

Arizona Capitol Times: Baja Arizona? Annoyed with Legislature, group wants Pima County to form new state

 Fox 11 Tucson: Baja Arizona Movement Gaining Support
Poll finds secession sentiment strong in Baja Arizona

Channel 9 reports 51st state Baja Arizona idea gets strong reactions from sheriffs

Montini on Arizona Republic  Farce as reality: Baja Arizona the 51st state?

Secession from Arizona pushed…Amendment would have allowed Pima County to form its own state

Could Baja Arizona be 51st state in US?  Arizona Daily Star February 24, 2011

Arizona Republic: Southern Arizona residents want to create new state: Baja Arizona

KTAR (Phx tv station) Baja Arizona? — Supporters insist the time has come

KPHO Phoenix Southern Arizona Man Fights To Form New State

KMSB Fox 11Tucson tv station Tucson group wants to secede from Arizona

KOLD tv Tucson  Baja Arizona: America’s 51st state?

KGUN 9 Tucson Splitting AZ: Support grows for 51st state

New York Times February 24, 2011 Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions

….Opponents said the changes were a drastic rewriting of the core values of the country. In Tucson, a community group was so enraged by what it called the extremist nature of the proposals from Phoenix that it proposed severing the state in two, creating what some call Baja Arizona.


Blog comments:

 From Forbes: “Baja Arizona might not become a new state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.”

To Secede or Not To Secede — That Is the Arizona Question

 Is Baja Arizona really much better? A look at the numbers


Slate: Arizonans Want To Secede From Arizona 

A group of Arizona residents are getting serious about creating a breakaway state—but it’s not the U.S. they want to escape from, it’s Arizona. The Arizona Star reports that a committee of Democrats in the southern part of the state says the conservatives who run things in Phoenix don’t represent them or their values. “Every bill we’ve heard about here is either anti-abortion laws or anti-Mexican laws,” Start Our State‘s Paul Eckerstrom said. “These are not laws that are geared toward solving the real problems that we have,” problems he thinks southern Arizonans ought to take a crack at solving themselves. His group is working to get secession on the ballot in 2012, and he insists the effort is “not a ploy and not merely a political statement.” If the secessionists succeed, a section of Pima County (with an area of 9,186 square miles and population of more than 1 million) would become Baja Arizona, the nation’s 51st state. But the Associated Press warns that there are “daunting hurdles”: “they must first get on the ballot, then get approval from the Legislature or from state voters to allow the exodus. A new state constitution would have to be approved, plus they’d have to get the OK from Congress and the president.”

NPR Blog: AZ Lawmaker Says State’s So Embarrassing, Her County May Secede

by Frank James

I pass this one along for your amusement.

After the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate passed a bill to let the state nullify any federal laws it didn’t agree with (I know, I know. The senators did this despite the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause”) a Democratic lawmaker said her county might need to secede for the sake of its dignity.

Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, chose not to try to block SB 1433 which has strong Republican support, including that of Senate President Russell Pearce. Instead, she sought to amend it to say that the moment this law takes effect, the Pima County Board of Supervisors “may act to have the county secede from the jurisdiction of this state.”

Aboud said Pima County residents really do want to remain part of Arizona.

“But we don’t want to be part of this state that continues to embarrass Arizona,” she said. “The point is, our business community is hurting because of the reactions brought upon by this body.”

From the East Valley Tribune:

Tom Prezelski: I was talking about Baja Arizona…


Why Baja Arizona …?

see editorial in the New York Times : Angry Arizona, Again

Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions

Arizona bills a test of federal government authority

Arizona bill would make Colt revolver state’s official firearm

Outfit your own private army in Arizona

State to feds …you are criminals if you try and enforce federal laws in Arizona

Brewer signs corporate tax give away bill

The state is going broke so what do you do? Cut taxes

Arizona to countersue feds over immigration issues

Is Arizona trying to secede from the United States?

New Arizona legislation aims to loosen gun laws…what? our gun laws are not liberal enough?

Arizona legislators determined to keep Arizona as the center of anti-immigrant efforts

With a climate of hate and easy access to guns for crazy people who else is going to die in Arizona?

Birthright citizenship bill unveiled by Arizona lawmakers — 2011′s version of SB 1070

And then there was last year’s SB 1070 debacle…


Some far right folks are claiming the current Baja Arizona movement is a precursor to the area joining Mexico…part of their “Aztlan” fear.   And they think we’re crazy….

Others think Baja Arizona is a scheme to leave the United States. Actually it is Arizona that is trying to secede from the US.

Others think this is silly…..well it is sort of….but so is what’s going on in Phoenix.

As Forbes blogger Osha Gray Davidson observed:

Group members insist they’re serious about their desire to secede, but know the odds are against them.

Even though, Baja Arizona may succeed in another way. The secessionist movement sends a powerful message to prospective businesses that the region is different from the butt of late-night talk shows to the north. Baja Arizona might not become a state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.

From: Nicholas Ilka who appears to be a spokesperson for SOS:

Let be be unmistakably clear – Nothing could be farther from the truth! My reasons for supporting this movement can be summed up as follows – If we allow Maricopa county to have its way the result will an Arizona that is no longer a part of the U.S., has its only education system in the private prison industry, and prayer as the only form of healthcare. I oppose these things as part of my patriotic duty to this country. We want to be a full and cooperative partner with our fellow states and the federal government.

One thing that will come as no surprise to most of you is that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has denounced the independence movement as “stupid.” Personally I thought he would have jumped at the chance to get rid of us. On a brighter note we received the unofficial endorsement of Sheriff Tony Estrada from Santa Cruz county!

“I think it’s a tremendous idea. It’s about time we kind of separate ourselves from the great state of Maricopa. We’ve been ignored, we’ve been abused, we’ve been pushed around, we’ve been kicked around long enough.”

Looks like Sheriff Estrada knows exactly how we feel. In the same article Pinal Co. Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Rios has this to say,

“They’re the tail that wags the dog. The rest of us, regardless of whether we join teams together, we cannot come up with enough votes to defeat anything that Maricopa County legislators want,”

Both quotes and Sheriff Arpaio’s thoughts can be found here

I am pleased to announce that the official website for Start Our State is under way and in the hands of some very capable volunteers. As soon as we are up you all will be the first to know.

The official email address for Start Our State is but you can respond to me as well and I will do my best to get you the information you need.

Thanks again and have great day,

Nicholas J. Ilka
Proud local business owner and supporter of Start Our State.


Comment: The whole reason new political jurisdictions…nations and states… are created  as well as revolutions started… is to make sure folks have a say in their governments.

If the  original American Revolution was triggered by the colonial people feeling they didn’t have a say in the government from London….the movement to create Baja Arizona is another in a long history of people wanting not to have their lives run by people with very different values and agendas who live somehere else.

What is Pima County except a colony of Maricopa, where Maricopan priorities and values are being imposed on people down south simply because there are more of them than us?

I hope the SOS leaders are serious…now lets see if Santa Cruz will join the effort….doubt if Cochise or Yuma would be interested….

Previous post on Baja Arizona

See “51st state” in Wikipedia which has interesting info on how to actually create a new state.


UPDATE: Bumper sticker graphics (print your own)…


History of Free Baja Arizona movement: Baja Arizona first started to be used in 1965 in the Frumious Bandersnatch, a yellow underground satirical newspaper I published…the name to connote a different place from Arizona.

In the 1980’s bumper stickers were printed up (see graphics above) when Ev Mecham was running the state into the ground.

The movement to “free Baja Arizona” started as a joke and a protest to the nuttiness coming out of Maricopa County. The problem is over the decades that nuttiness has grown even crazier, and now has become vicious in its hostility to immigrants. seems..wants to secede from the United States. The idea behind Baja Arizona is the folks down here want to stay a part of the USA.

If nothing else, the statement for a new state tells the rest of America we might be a little crazy ourselves, but we’re not the kind of people who want to jail every illegal immigrant, we find government can be useful, and we are not for  arming every mental patient with an automatic weapon.

The Free Baja Arizona page from the Frumious Bandersnatch:


An enormous mistake was made on December 30, 1853 when the Gadsden Treaty was signed between the United States and Mexico. The northern part of the Mexican state of Sonora, an area located south of the Gila River, was purchased by the United States, and tacked into what became the State of Arizona.The people of the Gadsden Purchase have increasingly chafed under the domination of an enormous population in an around Phoenix (Maricopa County). In order to end the domination of Phoenix, the people of the Gadsden Purchase are seeking statehood. Proclaiming themselves as Baja Arizona, a “state of mind” is acknowledged to exist.

The primary differences between Baja Arizona and the remainder of Arizona are of attitude and tolerance. The people of Baja Arizona are known throughout the southwest for their enlightened view of the world. This is obviously not the case with the passaged of SB 1070 making it illegal to be an illegal in Arizona.

In Baja Arizona people fight for civil rights. In Maricopa County they are jailing immigrants.

In Baja Arizona a major issue is environmental quality. In Maricopa the major concerns are how to harrass Mexicans, and how to gut the budgets of the state university system so we don’t have too many smart people to disagree with Russell Pearce and his buddies in the State Legislature.

In Baja Arizona folks care about health. Up north they have cut off funds for organ transplants…the ultimate “death panel”.

In Baja Arizona we get taxed by Arizona…and little of that money flows back south to us.

If Baja Arizona Became a State imagine…..

The State Motto would be “mas cerveza”.

The State Song would be “Get back” by the Beatles.

The State Animal would be Wiley Coyote.

The State Minstrel is Linda Ronstadt.

Cigarettes would be taxed at the rate of $4.00 per pack to support the new state’s free health care system.

Marijuana might be made legal and taxed to run the state…giving new meaning to “high” taxes. 

There would be no speed limit in Baja Arizona since no one obeys the ones posted now.

Tucson would likely be the capital, creating an economic boom as hordes of lobyyists descended on the town. That might even justify a new hotel in downtown Tucson.

Small government advocates in Baja Arizona suggest the state capitol be in an RV, which would move around from town to town every 6 weeks.

Alta Arizona would no longer have a border with Mexico. Joe Arpaio would have to get an honest job.

Baja Arizona would probably send two Democrats to the US Senate.


The current Arizona state legislature would have to call a special election, and the people of Alta Arizona and Baja Arizona would have to vote in favor of splitting the state. Then Congress would have to approve.

The chances of the people in Maricopa County voting to get rid of the concentration of Democrats to the south, and the people of Baja Arizona voting to sever their ties to the right-wingers to the north are excellent.

The chances in Congress are not so good.

First, there are several proto-states waiting to be created–Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, and Northern California. Baja Arizona is maybe 54th. The other three would probably send Democrats to Congress, as would Baja Arizona. There is no way the Republicans in the US House and Senate would create 4 new Democrat delegations in Congress, just like the South blocked the admission of free states before the Civil War. Like the pre-Civil War period, the only way Baja Arizona gets to be a state is if new Republican dominated states are also admitted. Texas could split into 5 states. Disneyworld could become a state… how do you think we got a North Dakota and a South Dakota, a Virginia and a West Virginia, and a North and South Carolina?

Other statehood movements:


Puerto Rico

Northern Virginia

Long Island

New York City

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


Washington DC

In addition to nascent statehood movements inside the US, one finds suggestions to add Canada, Sonora and Cuba as new US states.

About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in 51st state, arizona politics, baja arizona, free baja arizona, national politics, SB 1070, tucson politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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