Capitol Alert

Is it time to Calexit yet? California movement gains steam after Trump election

California voters made one thing crystal clear on Election Night: Donald Trump isn’t the leader we want in the White House.

Now a group of secessionists is taking advantage of postelection discontent and reintroducing a proposal to make California its own country. And it’s gaining momentum.

About 11,000 people liked the Facebook page for the “Yes California Independence Campaign” as of Tuesday night. By midday Wednesday, it had grown to nearly 17,000 likes and counting.

“Obviously it was a huge boost for the movement because Californians hate Donald Trump,” said Marcus Ruiz Evans, vice president of the group.

Yes California’s primary argument is that California and the U.S. have conflicting values, as shown at the polls Tuesday. They believe the state pays more than its fair share in federal taxes to subsidize other states, while our own infrastructure is crumbling, schools are failing and scores of people live in poverty, according to its website. California, which would boast the sixth largest economy if it were a standalone country, can do more good as an independent nation than as a U.S. state, they say.

Standing under a canopy on the steps of the state Capitol, Ruiz Evans said Wednesday that the group doesn’t have a partisan slant – yet he firmly believes the California primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders – and intended to protest regardless of the outcome of the election. He said the movement is largely modeled after “Brexit,” Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union in June.

The hashtag #Calexit was already trending on Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday. Posts ranged from Shervin Pishevar, a Bay Area venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur, calling for the state to secede, to conservatives welcoming a California-less nation.

Ruiz Evans said Yes California intends to launch an initiative that asks Californians whether they believe the state should remain part of the United States or break away on its own. Similar to the Citizens United ballot measure voters approved Tuesday, it would begin as an advisory proposal to kick-start an arduous process.

The results will serve as a rallying cry and give the campaign credibility with lawmakers, he said. If passed, it would call for a special election and official vote on whether California should become its own country. Ultimately, Congress and the states would likely have to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The reason that we’re here today is we wanted to point out to everybody in California that the American system is broken. It’s failing. It’s sinking,” he said. “You as a Californian have a choice to make: Do you go down with that ship out of tradition or sail on your own?”

Yes California has been pushing its agenda for a couple of years.

Louis Marinelli, the group’s president, ran and lost as an independent against Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in the 80th Assembly District in June. He also proposed nine different initiatives geared toward making California an independent state, but none qualified for the 2016 ballot.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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