California secessionists turning to red states for help
California secessionists have what may be a tempting proposal for the red states: Help the Golden State secede by voting to kick it out of the union.
Citing a looming court fight over statesplitting, Calexit organizers have postponed their ballot strategy and launched a campaign to persuade red-state legislators to vote in favor of telling California to take a hike.
“We are going to rely on the deep hatred for California that exists in red America,” said Louis Marinelli, a founder of Yes California, the Calexit campaign.
The plan is to persuade 25 of the 31 Republican-held legislatures to pass “consent to secede” resolutions, then place the question before California voters in the form of a ballot measure, instead of vice versa.
Calexit could then “come back to California and tell the people: We have the constitutionally required consent to secede; all we have to do now is vote yes,” Mr. Marinelli said in an email.
“I think people will be really motivated when it gets to that point, whereas in our previous approach, we could vote ‘yes’ now but then have to wait for consent of the states,” he said. “That’s kind of a motivation killer.”
Will it work? Is it constitutional? Who knows? But Yes California organizers said they were forced to regroup after the California Supreme Court in July struck the “three Californias” initiative from the November ballot, ruling that “significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity.”
The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Planning and Conservation League against Proposition 9, the measure bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper that would have divided California into three states.
Citizens for Cal3 accused the environmental group of “doing the dirty work of the Sacramento establishment,” but the ruling prompted Calexit, which had begun to gather signatures for a 2020 ballot berth, to change course while the court battle plays out.
The appeal to red states comes as the latest reboot for the Calexit team, led by Mr. Marinelli and Marcus Ruiz Evans, since launching in 2014. Last year’s signaturegathering effort was dissolved after organizers decided to reword the secession measure, which was relaunched in April.
In July, the group proposed the idea of creating an “autonomous Native American nation” out of inland California as part of the secession effort.
After Donald Trump was elected as president, Calexit organizers tapped into California outrage over his policies, arguing that the liberal Golden State’s clashes with the administration on illegal immigration, climate change and other issues could be resolved by creating a new nation.
The Consent of the States Project seeks to take advantage of another political current: the frustration of not just red states but also neighboring states whose political balance has been altered by the influx of Californians leaving the state in droves.
In Colorado, for example, Republicans are running an anti-California campaign against Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, in his bid for governor. Ads accuse him of wanting to “turn Colorado into California.”
“RadiCalifornia. That’s what you get when you bring radical left-wing policies to your state — policies that have already failed in California,” says the ad by the Republican Governors Association.
Mr. Marinelli said the latest approach takes a page from the Convention of States, a largely conservative-driven movement that seeks to hold a landmark 50-state convention at which delegates could propose and pass amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Under Article V, Congress is required to hold such a convention if requested by two-thirds of the states, which comes to 34. Any proposed amendment would need the approval of 38 states.
So far, 12 states have passed Convention of States resolutions and another 10 have passed resolutions in one chamber, according to the organization’s map, a framework that Calexit hopes to follow.
Convention of States has plenty of high-profile Republican supporters, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but Mr. Marinelli said the framework could work for the secession campaign.
“We’ve been inspired by the Convention of States campaign, so we intend to mimic their success,” said Mr. Marinelli.
The third California-splitting movement, New California, which seeks to divide the state into two along urban-rural lines, has taken a different approach by moving to gain the support of counties and then bring their declaration for approval to the state Legislature.
Organizers say the approach is rooted in Article IV, Section 3, of the U.S. Constitution and cited the example of West Virginia’s split from Virginia during the Civil War as precedent.