It will organize, I believe, along party and regional lines, which largely coincide. Broadly defined, the Mountain West* will have nine votes and is solidly Republican, except for New Mexico and Colorado, which are split. Washington can be added to this group, for the purposes of this discussion, and is split as well. These ten can be the core of a 26 member majority. They have a great deal in common, and share, to a large extent, a common political culture. Once they have formed a coalition of sorts, based on common goals and concerns, they can expand to the six borderline Western states** running from North Dakota south to Texas. If accommodations can be made between these two blocs, which is certainly quite doable, the Western Coalition would have 16 votes. The solidly Republican South has ten votes***. What I call coal country, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia, is another group of four. The upper Midwest****, plus New Hampshire is the final bloc of red states, with five members.
So, the way I see it, the West is in the catbird’s seat, if they can stick together. I get the impression these people, even the leadership, don’t know each other. They may get together at ALEC or some other national meeting, but by and large they’re completely focused on their own state, and its people and problems. That’s the way it was when I was in the Alaska Legislature. We didn’t care how they did it in the lower 48, and didn’t appreciate any advice from strangers. A popular bumper sticker back then was “We don’t give a damn how they do it outside.” We were the Upper One. I pick up on that same attitude all over the west, in every Capitol I’ve been in. These are my kind of people. In order to organize, and take advantage of their numbers, they need to get to know each other.
Maybe I can help.
*Alaska, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
**North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
***Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
****Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.