Election Central

Idaho in a new state of ‘Salt Lake’? So says New York artist

New York City artist Neil Freeman is selling for $35 his poster that equalizes the populations of the 50 states as a proposed Electoral College reform.

Freeman puts Idaho in a new state of Salt Lake, along with eastern portions of Oregon and Washington, northern portions of Utah and Nevada and western portions of Wyoming and Montana.


Freeman’s poster isn’t new — it is dated 2012 — but I just learned of it in the post-Christmas culling of an overfilled email inbox. Each state would have a population of about 6.2 million. (Freeman promises the 22-by-28 poster offers much more detail.)

Politically speaking, Freeman’s vision is past a pipe dream. But as a lover of maps, I find the exercise fascinating, particularly the proposed state names.

Our new neighbors under his scheme would be Rainer to the northwest, Shasta to the west, Shiprock on the south and Ogallala on the east.

My birthplace of Tucson would be in the state of Phoenix, an insult if I ever heard one. Saguaro would more suitable.

My folks’ home place fares better. They grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent long and happy summers crossing the road from Grandma Popkey’s place in the woods to Uncle Bub’s cabin on the Menominee River. The new state of Menominee would include the U.P., most of Wisconsin and western Michigan.

Where I mostly grew up — Cupertino, Calif. — is part of Yerba Buena, the island in San Francisco Bay bisected by the Bay Bridge. I like that name. Much better than what it might have been — “Silicon Valley.” Yuck.

Shasta is another felicity, covering far northern California and much of Oregon, named for the magnificent white slab of Mount Shasta that captivated me during three years I worked at the Redding (Calif) Record-Searchlight. (Speaking of names: One of the best newspaper names in the country!)

I endorse Mendocino for the rest of northern California, named for the picturesque coast we’d see on the way to Uncle Ken and Aunt Rosie on Thanksgiving.

I also like Shiprock — a sacred peak rising from the high desert west of Albuquerque — for a huge swath of the Southwest.

Some states are simply named for their big cities: New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Miami, Newark, Washington, Atlanta, Houston.

I prefer the music in the geographical names: Atchafalaya, Allegheny, Ozark, Muskogee, Blue Ridge, Shenandoah, Tidewater, Adirondack, Pocono.

Anyway, on the Friday after Christmas and before New Year’s Day, I thought this worth sharing.

Happy New Year.




Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics