21 July 2011

Coming soon - the new state of South California?

Oh, please, let this come to pass.

In case you missed it, which is likely, since it didn't get too much play outside of the LA Times coverage, some conservatives in inland SoCal have HAD it, just HAD IT with how they are being neglected by the "big, broken" state government in Sacramento.

A Riverside County Supervisor, Jeff Stone, has proposed that fourteen counties in the southern part of the state of California secede from the rest of the Golden State and form their own, to be named, tentatively, "South California." The fourteen counties that he's selected stretch from near Lake Tahoe to Mexico, and would create a state of 13 million people (which would make it #5 in population, just between New York and Florida) and 73,583 square miles (which would make it #17 in size, between South Dakota and North Dakota).

Formidable, no?

It's no accident that Mr. Stone has selected primarily (though not exclusively) Republican Counties.

This new state would take with it the following State Senate districts (current party): 14 (R), 16 (R), 18 (R), 31 (R), 32 (D), 33 (R), 34 (D), 35 (R), 36 (R), 37 (R), 38 (D), 39 (D), 40 (R).
That's 9 republican California State Senators that would be gone from Sacramento, with a loss of only 4 Democrats.

The current California Senate has a 25 - 15 Democratic majority, so were this change to occur, it would become a 21 - 6 Democratic Majority.

And at the risk of being uber wonky, this new state would take with it all or most of the following California Assembly seats: 25, 29, 30, 31, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80. Like to guess the make up of these 24 seats by party, anyone? Republicans have 17, and Democrats have 7.

The current makeup of the California Assembly is 52 Democrats and 27 Republicans. Were this new state to be made, the ratio would be 45-10.

I can't help but see the irony that a Republican from a conservative part of my beloved Check SpellingCalifornia is railing about how dysfunctional the state government in Sacramento is.

The Republicans are the ones who have made it dysfunctional. Why can't we pass a budget? Because of the (nearly) unique-to-California requirement that any tax increase needs a 2/3rds majority in the state legislature. Fifty percent, which the Democrats always have isn't enough. Republicans can - and do, regularly, with comparatively very little popular support statewide - completely tie up the state by voting in a block to prevent any revenue increases, and then point the finger and say "Sacramento can't get anything done!"

Well, think of what we could get done if they left: pass revenue increases? Check. Fully fund the University of California system? Check. (We'd only be losing UC Merced and UC San Diego - a loss, true, but it's worth it!) Fully fund the California State University system? Check. (We'd lose a few more campuses here, like San Diego State, Cal State Fullerton, and Fresno State, but again, worth it!) Fully fund K-12 education? Check.

We would have the most progressive state government in the US. Vermont, eat our dust! Gay marriage, here we come!

What about in presidential politics? Those electoral votes would be in play. Most of those counties voted for President Obama in 2008, and while a Democrat couldn't count on them every election, they would be reasonably in play. It's winnable.

I don't see any downsides. Huge Dem majorities in the California State Assembly and Senate? That's a win. More progressive voters statewide for Proposition issues like, oh, let's say Prop 8? That's a win. Even the potential of repealing Prop 13? That's a win.

And down the road twenty years or so, as demographic trends assert themselves and all of our former state-mates who fear the tide of illegal immigration and so left the former California to be in a white majority "South California" find themselves living in a Latino-majority state, even as they rail against them, the inevitable will happen: we'll even get two more (likely) Latino Democrats in the Senate in Washington, DC. And that's a win.

What's the downside? (Tuneless whistling...) I don't see one.

So please, let's all get behind Mr. Stone and his desire to carve out a new state. After all, you don't see many Virginians missing West Virginia these days, do you?


CFox said...

What about two more R senators? That could be a downside....

Bren in SoCal said...

Acknowledged, but... I don't think there would be two R US Senators, to be honest. While Barbara Boxer carried only one county in South California in 2010, she carried most of it in 2004 (http://bit.ly/nmn9gr), and she's pretty liberal. Senator Feinstein would've won handily in 2006 (http://bit.ly/ncvTda), losing only Orange (natch), Inyo, Tulare, Kern and Kings Counties. With the demographic trends showing strong Latino growth, a typical California-strain GOP candidate (read = immigrant bashing) would be hard pressed to win a general after pandering to primary voters.