A plan to split California into three states has made it to the November ballot and, though a long shot, could result in the first division of an existing state since West Virginia was created in 1863. Such a split might be one way for Republicans to make some headway on the "Left Coast."
The "Cal 3" plan would leave Los Angeles and a strip along the West Coast up to Monterey as California, the Los Angeles Times reported. The upper portion of the state, which would include San Francisco and the state capital Sacramento, would become Northern California.
The bottom portion of the state, which would include San Diego and the eastern part of the state with Fresno, would become Southern California, according to a map by the Times.
To get enough votes in the fall, "Cal 3" will have to overcome the newly formed "NoCABreakup" coalition, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, and even if the ballot measure is approved, it would still need to be passed by the state legislature and then go to the U.S. Congress for final approval, something that has not happened since the Civil War.
California is a land of political earthquakes. President Donald Trump's victory in 2016 led to a ballot movement to have California secede from the U.S. That effort failed to gain enough signatures last year but was started again this year, CNBC reported.
"Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes," Tim Draper, the billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist who sponsored the "Cal 3" ballot measure, told the Times last year. "States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens."
Vikram Amar, a law professor from the University of Illinois who had studied Draper's plan, told the Times that based on the last election, the Electoral College split by the plan would allow a Republican to win one of the states.
"What is of greater importance to a state than its geographic boundaries?" Amar said. "As the national debate about a wall along the Mexican border rages, we are reminded that even in a digital age, physical space and physical lines matter immensely to the course of peoples' lives, and the legal regimes under which they live."
The Sacramento Bee reported that Draper's more ambitious ballot proposal to chop up California into six states died in 2014 when he failed to get enough signatures.
Steve Maviglio, a consultant and critic of Draper's efforts, charged that the plan would lead to "political chaos," charging that it would cost each of the new states millions, the Chronicle said.
"California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality," Maviglio told the Chronicle. "Splitting California into three new states will triple the amount of special interests, lobbyists, politicians and bureaucracy."
The "NoCABreakup" movement was started by former Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabien Núñez, the Chronicle noted.