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Three Californias? Radical Initiative Makes Ballot, Could Change US Politics in a Big Way


A bold proposal to divide California into three states will be on this November's ballot.

The "Cal 3" initiative, promoted by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper, would split the state into Northern California, California and Southern California.

Backers of the measure argue the Golden State has become "ungovernable" because of its economic and geographic diversity and huge population.

"Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes," Draper wrote in an email to The Los Angeles Times. "States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens."

If voters okay the measure, the split would require approval from Congress.

Should that happen, it would be the first time a US state was divided since the creation of West Virginia – and could have significant political implications.

For starters, it would create four new US senators, something that would significantly increase California voters' influence in Washington.

It could also change the number of representatives in the US House.

Finally, the move would also affect the Electoral College, which selects the nation's next commander in chief.

While the state as it currently exists is heavily Democratic, it remains to be seen what the political makeup of three Californias would be.

Under the current proposal, at least one of the states would be made up of San Diego, Orange County and the Central Valley – a jurisdiction with red-state possibilities, The Washington Times reports.

"Because the newly created 'Southern California' state could easily vote for a Republican presidential candidate and give its 18 or so electors to a Republican, then Democrats would run a serious risk moving from a 55-0 advantage in California to something like 41-18," Vikram David Amar, University of Illinois College of Law professor, wrote in a Sept. 8 column for the Verdict.

Conversely, The Washington Times notes that should a so-called "Southern California" divide up its representation – 5-1 instead of 4-2 – the GOP could end up losing out.

"I would be careful what you wish for," Los Angeles-based political strategist Darry Sragow told the paper. "We all know that the law of unintended consequences is alive and well."

California's secretary of state will certify the initiative as qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot on June 28.

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