Politician Campaigns to Make ‘South California’ Into Our 51st State

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Illustration by Alexander Ho for TIME

A California politician is proposing that his state split in half as a way to address political and logistical issues – marking yet another instance someone has proposed this idea in the Golden State.

Although on a national scale, the idea of splitting up a state may seem novel, similar proposals has been made in California politics more than 220 separate times. But Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone is not letting the past failures of these proposals mute his ardor for secession.

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“This has struck a chord with a lot of people in the state who have suffered economically,” Stone, a Republican, told the Los Angeles Times. “We know it’s going to be a challenge to form a second state, but it’s not a impossible. We’re sending a message.”

Although actual secession may be unlikely, Stone and his supporters are sending a disgruntled message to Sacramento, where they allege Democratic Governor Jerry Brown is engaged in policies that do not reflect the ideals of half his state. In fact, Stone’s proposal calls California an “ungovernable” state in financial crisis where residents are suffering steep taxes to pay for welfare and illegal immigrants.


“After local governments have been cut to the bone, the state Legislature again passed a local government grab in their 2011-12 quasi-balanced budget with the same old gimmicky and overstated revenue predictions that will not materialize,” Stone wrote in his proposal report. “I have come to the conclusion that the state of California is too big to govern, that the political priorities of Southern California and Northern California are completely different.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors will consider Stone’s proposal Tuesday. Rather than outlining the specifics of state separation, Stone is moving to host a statewide summit for Californian politicians to draw up plans for secession. But in his current conception of a two-state solution, Stone says he envisions 13 conservative, mostly inland states forming “South California.”

These states would include the counties of Riverside, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Tulare; notably excluding southern but liberal Los Angeles.

A spokesman for the governor called Stone’s proposal a political stunt, according to the LA Times, saying Riverside County should focus on its expected $130-million revenue shortfall.

“It’s a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody’s time,” Gil Duran, Brown’s spokesman, said. “If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there’s a place called Arizona.”

All told, the 13 counties in Stone’s proposal have a population of about 13 million people.

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Everett Rosenfeld is a TIME contributor. Find him on Twitter at @Ev_Rosenfeld. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.