A new group dedicated to California nationhood says the Calexit movement is back and that the new initiative's paperwork will be turned in Friday by antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, who has joined the secession cause.
The last Calexit proposal, which had aimed for the ballot box, was withdrawn last month by its author, Marcus Ruiz Evans, amid controversy over another organizer's ties to Russia. Evans departed that group, Yes California, and joined forces with the California Freedom Coalition, which is drawing up new language to put the question of state independence before voters in 2018.
Evans says the new initiative would contain "very different wording" from the prior proposal. The language would have to be approved by the secretary of state before necessary signatures could be gathered for ballot placement.
California Freedom Coalition board member Steve Gonzales says the proposal, if approved by voters, would give state and federal lawmakers three options: Reform voting rights and repair gerrymandered districts; keep California as a quasi-independent state within the union, one where Gonzales says "decisions at the federal level have little impact on the lives of Californians"; or grant and implement full-on secession.
Secession would start with a gubernatorial commission that would negotiate with lawmakers, according to Gonzales. Representatives at the state and federal levels would be called on "to buffer California against chaos, dysfunction and uncertainty at the federal level," he says.
Gonzales says lawmakers could approve one, two or all three options under the language being submitted to the secretary of state. The office has 45 days to propose edits before the idea would head to the streets for signature gathering.
Even if Golden State citizens voted in favor of the initiative and lawmakers approved the nuclear option of secession, it doesn't mean that California would automatically become a sovereign nation. Constitutional scholars have expressed doubt about the legal viability of the effort, saying the nation's founding tenets provide no exit.
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Organizers will need nearly 600,000 valid voter signatures, and gathering them typically costs millions. And that's before any politicking on TV to woo voters.
The coalition last week announced it had received an endorsements from the California National Party. It's no coincidence that the new initiative language will be turned in during the 2017 California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento. "Some progressive-focused members of the party are getting behind this," Gonzales says.
Inez Kaminski, a spokeswoman for the state party, said via email that the party "does not have a stance on the proposal."
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the California Courage Campaign and the Peace and Freedom Party endorsed the measure. They have not.