Man behind plan to split up California likes chances in November vote

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Venture capitalist Tim Draper, fresh off an attention-grabbing victory getting a proposal onto the November ballot to split California into three states, said on Wednesday he was confident voters ill-served by their government would embrace the plan.

California elections officials certified on Tuesday that Draper’s so-called Cal3 initiative had won enough signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot, the first step in a politically complicated, uphill fight to ultimately break apart the most populous U.S. state.

“It is all about educating the voter on how much better this will be for them. As voters become educated, they tend to support Cal3,” Draper, 60, told Reuters in an interview via email.

“Cal3 gives them an opportunity to improve the state,” said Draper, who argued California ranked near the bottom among U.S. states in quality of life, education, the tax burden and as a place to do business. “Cal3 gives them a fresh start.”

It was not clear how he determined those rankings.

A spokeswoman for the initiative said the initiative was nonpartisan and not aligned with either major political party.

If California voters pass Cal3 in November, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown or his successor would be directed to petition Congress to approve the split, as called for under the U.S. Constitution.

President Donald Trump would then be required to sign that legislation.

Political experts say Congress is unlikely to approve a split-up of California, especially Democrats who would be deeply reluctant to break up a dependably blue state.

But Draper believes politicians in Washington or Sacramento would be taking an even bigger risk by ignoring the will of voters fed up with a state government he says has long stopped working for them.

“The people we talked to are looking for better education for their children, a better job environment, safer, cleaner water and highways, lower taxes, and a business climate that doesn’t push their companies out of the state,” said Draper, who previously tried unsuccessfully to qualify a ballot measure that would have broken California into six states.

Under Cal3, California, which has almost 40 million people and an economy that ranks as the world’s fifth largest, would be split into three still fairly large states.

One would include Los Angeles and a swath of the coast extending north to Monterey. “Northern California” would feature Sacramento, San Francisco and a chunk of the state extending to the Oregon border. “Southern California” would include farm communities such as Fresno and Bakersfield, the inland counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, and the San Diego area.

FILE PHOTO: Venture capitalist and CAL 3 Chairman Tim Draper speaks during a press conference after announcing he has collected more than 600,000 signatures to put the plan to partition California into three states into the November ballot in San Mateo, California, April 12, 2018. REUTERS/ Stephen Lam/File Photo

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Peter Cooney

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