Cal­i­for­nia se­ces­sion­ists turn­ing to red states for help

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

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.

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