A Billionaire’s Dream of Splitting Up California Moves One Step Closer to Reality

  • Venture capitalist is seeking to break state into three parts
  • Effort faces big hurdles in succeeding, even if approved

Tim Draper

Photographer: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America

Billionaire Tim Draper, who’s leading a push to break California into three states, is getting his shot to let voters decide on the issue.

Draper, a venture capitalist and cryptocurrency enthusiast, obtained enough signatures for the measure to qualify for the state’s ballot in November, the California Secretary of State announced late Tuesday.

According to Draper, the most populous U.S. state and the world’s fifth-largest economy is "nearly ungovernable" under the current system. The measure calls for three smaller state governments: Northern California, encompassing San Francisco and 39 other counties; California, covering Los Angeles and five other counties; and Southern California, accounting for areas including Fresno and San Diego.

A California split is a long shot, to say the least. Even if voters decide Draper’s idea is a good one, there hasn’t been a breakup of a state since the Civil War. Government law experts say a plan would probably require an act of Congress -- and it’s unlikely Republicans in Washington would welcome the idea of potentially adding more solidly blue states.

Read more: A Billionaire Wants to Split California. Why He’s Likely to Fail

And in the far north region of California, some residents have pushed to form a new state with parts of southern Oregon, and wouldn’t be keen on being lumped together with liberal San Francisco as envisioned by Draper’s map. While California’s differences run deep, they may only be heightened in closer quarters.

— With assistance by Cara Moffat, and Polina Noskova

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