People in California are calling for the rural counties to declare independence from the rest of the state

Justin Sullivan/GettyNew California would be the 51st state to join the union.
  • A fringe political group is calling for a “New California.”
  • The aspiring 51st state would incorporate the central, mostly rural counties and contain roughly 15 million people, according to the group’s organisers.
  • A split between California and New California is highly unlikely.

“New California” is swiftly taking over social media.

On Monday, a fringe political group out of California called for the state’s central, mostly rural counties to break away from the rest of the state. Organisers gathered in a government building outside Sacramento for a reading of their own Declaration of Independence from California.

Unlike the “Calexit” movements of the past, which gathered steam on Twitter after the election of President Donald Trump, these Californians want to leave the Golden State, not the country.

“Well, it’s been ungovernable for a long time. High taxes, education, you name it,” Robert Paul Preston, the movement’s cofounder, told CBS Sacramento.

New California would be made up of roughly 15 million people across 42 counties, leaving the state’s coastal urban enclaves like Los Angeles and San Francisco on their own. According to the group’s website, the existing California would surrender between 25 and 27 seats in the US House of Representatives to New California, based on 2016 population estimates.

The split would result in, effectively, a blue California and a red California.

Preston believes there’s a path to statehood that is legal. The group cites Article IV Section 3 of the US Constitution, which allows for a state to be formed from another state with the consent of the original state legislature and the permission of US Congress.

Preston told CBS Sacramento that the group has representatives from counties across the state, and it plans to organise over the next 10 to 18 months. Then it will engage the state legislature.

“We have to demonstrate that we can govern ourselves before we are allowed to govern,” Preston said.

This week, people took to Twitter to express a range of reactions.

A breakaway from California is highly unlikely. The last state to be created out of another state was West Virginia during the Civil War. Farmers living in the western part of the state declared independence only after Virginia left the union, and with approval from President Lincoln.

The latest reincarnation of “Calexit” may be only a conservative pipe dream.

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