Once easily mistaken for political satire, venture capitalist Tim Draper’s “Six Californias” ballot measure to tear the Golden State asunder seems bound for the November 2016 ballot.
Draper, who has shelled out $4.9 million on his oft-mocked and maligned campaign, announced he’ll submit petition signatures for the measure Tuesday and hold a news conference in Sacramento.
“California needs a reboot,” said a news release issued Monday by his committee. “Six Californias is our opportunity to solve the many problems we face today. … Six states that are more representative and accountable. Six states that embrace innovation and strive to improve the lives of residents.”
The measure would split California into six states, each with its own government; much of the San Francisco Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, would become the state of Silicon Valley. California’s northernmost parts would become Jefferson, as some counties up there have wanted for years; some North Bay counties would become part of North California; Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield would be among Central California’s largest cities; Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara would wind up in West California; and San Diego would anchor South California.
Silicon Valley would become the nation’s richest state while Central California would become its poorest, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found.
“This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy, and money that will hurt the California brand, our ability to attract business and jobs, and move our state forward together,” said Steve Maviglio, a veteran Democratic strategist speaking for the OneCalifornia committee created to oppose Draper’s effort. “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Draper is putting his millions into this effort to split up our state rather than help us face our challenges.”
While it’s sure to become fodder for late-night talk show hosts from coast to coast, the measure still faces tremendous hurdles, not the least of which is money: Draper so far is the only contributor. And even if California voters approve the measure, splitting the state still would require action by Congress.
“He’s got a pretty high bar to pass,” said Corey Cook, director of the University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. “There’ll be a general skepticism of how dividing the state would improve it.”
Cook also said it’ll be hard for Draper to find anyone else willing to bankroll the effort. “I’m not sure it’s a wildly popular idea, and I think the perception is that if this guy wants to propose it, he can fund it too.”