California voters will have an historic decision to make in November’s election. The “Cal 3” initiative will ask voters whether they would like to split the Golden State into thirds. Two of the proposed states are to be largely along north-south lines and one on the southern coast anchored by Los Angeles — Northern California, Southern California and California.

The proposal, which received more than 402,467 valid (out of 366,000 needed) signatures, has been championed by Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley billionaire. A few years ago, he tried to get the state to approve a measure to divide California into six states. Draper said that partitioning California into three states would allow regional communities to make better decisions for their citizens to address the state’s most pressing issues, including the school systems, high taxes, deteriorating infrastructure and strained government.

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“The California state government isn’t too big to fail, because it is already failing its citizens in so many crucial ways,” Citizens for “Cal 3” campaign spokeswoman Peggy Grande told reporters. “The reality is that for an overmatched, overstretched and overwrought state-government structure, it is too big to succeed. Californians deserve a better future.”

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The “Cal 3” website notes, “It will simply divide the state into smaller, more manageable populations. Think of North Carolina and South Carolina; North Dakota and South Dakota; West Virginia and Virginia — California is already known for its Northern and Southern identities.”


A friend of Draper, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate of California, Gavin Newsom, is opposing the ballot initiative. “I will not be supporting the initiative, and I don’t expect the people of this state will support it. California’s success is being a cohesive state, particularly at a time of Trump and Trumpism,” Newsom added. “We’re now the fifth largest economy in the world. Why would we cede that to splitting the state up into three?” Newsom also said the breakup proposal would lead to “litigation, consternation, north versus south, all kinds of constitutional issues,” but he added he is not spending a lot of time dwelling on the proposal.

The idea of splitting California up has been around as long as the state itself. There have been over 200 attempts to divide the state by lawmakers, counties and wealthy individuals like Draper since California was founded in 1850. The U.S. Constitution allows for the formation of new states, but it does not make it an easy process. Under Article IV — no new state can enter the union “without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned, as well as of the Congress.” That means that if “Cal 3” succeeds with voters, California’s legislature would also have to approve the move. Then, it would make its way to Washington for the federal approval, which also seems unlikely given Republican control of Congress – with three states, there would likely be six Democratic senators from the states rather than the current two.

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