Bay Area venture capitalist Tim Draper, who is backing CAL 3, a campaign to divide California into three separate states, said on April 12 that his organization had collected more than 600,000 signatures — more than enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
In California, the number of signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot is based on the total number of votes cast for the office of governor. Based on those figures, it would require 585,407 signatures to get a ballot to amend the state constitution before the voters.
Draper’s plan would divide the state into these three states: California, which would include the coastal counties between Los Angeles and Monterey. Northern California would include everything north of Merced and eastward to the Nevada state line. Southern California would include everything south of Merced to the Mexican border and east to the Arizona and Nevada state lines.
Reuters reported that Draper, whose previous efforts to divide California into six states in 2014 and 2016 failed to win sufficient support to get on the ballot, said in a news release that he planned to file the signatures with Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office next week.
“This is an unprecedented show of support on behalf of every corner of California to create three state governments that emphasize representation, responsiveness, reliability, and regional identity,” Draper said.
However, noted the Reuters report, it is still uncertain if the initiative will make the ballot in November, as the signatures will have to be certified as legitimate and typically many thousands are rejected.
A statement on the Cal 3 website, headed “Identity, Autonomy & Diversity,” said:
The separate states are based on existing counties; statehood promotes a sense of community among residents and builds culture. Areas like Sacramento are currently run by powerful special interests like the Teachers’ Union. Creating three new states will help put the power back into the hands of the constituents. If the new state’s elected officials aren’t meeting the needs of the state’s citizens, it will be easier to vote them out of power in the next election. The needs of local communities can be brought into the spotlight and communities can elect officials that will best represent them.
Even if voters approve the measure, it still would require approval from Congress. Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution states: “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
Draper said that voters overwhelmingly approved the division of California into two states in 1859, but Congress never approved that decision.
At this point, it is difficult to predict how each of the three Californias would fare politically if the proposed division were to take effect. The very liberal Bay Area would be part of the new Northern California, the liberal Los Angeles area would be part of California, but the new Southern California would likely be more conservative than the present state of California. Much of its area would encompass rural and agricultural areas, and its most densely populated coastal region — Orange and San Diego counties — still tend to be fairly conservative.
As one indication of the conservatism in the area, on March 27, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join the federal government in the lawsuit against the state’s sanctuary laws.
That move came just two weeks after Los Alamitos, a small city in Orange County, voted to exempt itself from the state’s sanctuary status.
U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican whose district is based in Orange County, stated his opposition to California’s sanctuary status (likely reflecting the majority view from residents of the area), saying: “By making this a sanctuary city, a sanctuary state, we’re doing nothing more than attracting millions of more people to come to this country and consume the very wealth that's being talked about today that's necessary for quality of life for the poor group of Americans.”
Other cities in Orange County have also voiced their concerns against the state’s sanctuary laws, including Yorba Linda, Buena Park, Huntington Beach, and Mission Viejo, the Los Angles Times reported.
With a population of 3,010,23, Orange County is the third-most populous county in California. San Diego County, immediately to its south, has a population of 3,095,313 and is the state’s second-most populous county. Historically, it is also a fairly conservative area of the state. In all likelihood, therefore, the new state of Southern California would tend to be politically conservative.