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51st State? California County Votes To Secede

51st State? California County Votes To Secede

Image source: Sacramento Bee

Most residents of California’s far north are against the idea of seceding from the nation’s most populous state, although one county is for it.

Voters in two of three Northern California counties have rejected ballot measures that urged county governments to try and separate from the state of California.

The secessionist movement suffered a defeat in coastal Del Norte County, where 58 percent of voters voted against forming a new state. In Siskiyou County, 56 percent of voters rejected a similar measure that would have established a “free republic” called the “Republic of Jefferson.”

Secessionists won 56 percent of the vote in Tehama County, which affirmed an initiative to form a 51st state.

“I’m going to definitely talk to the people of Jefferson and tell them to stick around,” California’s Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown, told reporters. Brown spoke to the press after voters went to the polls on June 3.

Supporters, though, vowed to continue.

“There are people who are going to want this and there are people who won’t, but we aren’t ever going to quit until we get representation in rural Northern California,” state of Jefferson supporter Mark Baird told The San Jose Mercury News.

State of Jefferson Not a New Idea

The proposed state of Jefferson would include 13 counties: Del Norte, Siskiyou, Modoc, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Plumas, Mendocino, Glenn, Butte and Lake. The county boards of supervisors (their term for commissioners) in Siskiyou, Modoc and Glenn counties have voted in favor of forming the state. In Siskiyou, secessionists are divided over whether to form a state or a republic.

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The effort to create Jefferson is among the nation’s oldest secessionist movements and dates back to World War II. In November 1941, Jefferson supporters attracted national attention by stopping cars on a federal highway in Yreka (the Siskiyou County seat) and handing out a proclamation of independence from California. The effort collapsed when the United States entered World War II in December 1941.

The original Jefferson movement aimed to include several counties in Southern Oregon in the new state. More recent efforts have aimed at taking rural and politically conservative northern regions of California out of the mostly urban and liberal state.

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Many people in California’s far north feel neglected by the state government, which is controlled by politicians elected from the state’s large cities. Others are frustrated by what they see as the lack of opportunity in the region.

“Despite a ‘growing economy’ and a tech boom which went bust, many in our region were facing opposition to our natural resource based industries and livelihoods by environmentalist extremists, activist judges, non-government organizations and their broadening political agenda in collusion with governmental agencies at the state and federal levels,” the website noted.

If it was created the state of Jefferson would be about twice the size of New Hampshire, The Mercury News noted. Jefferson would have around 467,000 residents.

Secession Battle Far From Over

The setback at the polls is not stopping Jefferson supporters. They’ve vowed to keep fighting until they achieve their goals.

“I am not dissuaded by last night’s vote,” Jefferson supporter Matt Bier wrote at the Jefferson Declaration Net blog on June 4. “I’ll continue to believe Del Norte can do better by joining our Sister Counties for the State of Jefferson.”

“Well, 42% of Del Norte voted for finding a better way,” Bier noted. “I’m going to have a bumper sticker made that says ‘State of Jefferson 42%’er Del Norte.’”

Silicon Valley Investor Supports Secession

Bier isn’t alone in the battle to create Jefferson. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy C. Draper is promoting a ballot initiative that would break California up into six separate states. One of the states in Draper’s proposal is Jefferson.

Draper is promoting his “Six Californias” initiative because he thinks that the Golden State has become ungovernable. He also believes that the state’s government is stifling economic opportunities and driving jobs away.

“Six Californias is an Initiative to create six states with responsive, local governments,” Draper’s Six Californias website stated. “Six Californias will allow each state to focus on its own economic growth and encourage businesses to keep jobs local.”

Draper has invested in such successful tech startups as Tesla Motors, Skype and Baidu. He’s also invested in 1,000 different companies.

If your area of the country held a vote to form a separate state, how would you vote? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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