Marcus Ruiz Evans, the vice president and co-founder of Yes California, said his group had been planning to wait for a later election, but the presidential election of Donald Trump sped up the timeline.
“We’re doing it now because of all of the overwhelming attention,” Evans said.
The Yes California group has been around for more than two years, Evans said. It is based around California taxpayers paying more money to the federal government than the state receives in spending, that Californians are culturally different from the rest of the country, and that national media and organizations routinely criticize Californians for being out of step with the rest of the U.S.
The attorney general’s office will give the ballot measure a title and summary, and Evans said he hopes to begin collecting signatures to get it on the ballot in the spring. Qualifying ballot measures typically requires significant resources to pay signature gatherers, and Yes California doesn’t have major financial backing. But Evans said 13,000 people have volunteered to collect signatures.
“This is real,” Evans said. “We treat it seriously.”
Various groups have made noise about California forming its own country in the wake of Trump’s election this month, most prominently Silicon Valley financier Shervin Pishevar. But similar proposals have dotted the state’s political landscape for years. Yes California has tried and failed previously, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper was not able to get a proposal to split California into six states onto the 2016 ballot.
A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department in order to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he taught courses at Georgetown University pertaining to the tension between propaganda and public diplomacy. For many years he shared ideas on the theme "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" with Eurasian/European delegates participating in the "Open World" program.
Brown’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. A recent piece is “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War” (published in Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future; now online).
He is the author (with S. Grant) of The Russian Empire and the USSR: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States (also online). In the past century, he served as an editor/translator of a joint U.S.-Soviet publication, The Establishment of Russian-American Relations, 1765-1815.