An organization called Yes California even filed an initiative last year to hold a statewide special election asking voters if they wanted to form their own country – though the leaders ultimately abandoned their signature-gathering effort because of negative attention surrounding the motivations of campaign founder Louis Marinelli, who was living in Russia at the time.
Now “Calexit,” as they dubbed the proposal, is back. And so is Marinelli, who moved home to California this week to help relaunch their crusade.
“I enjoyed my life in Russia,” Marinelli said in an interview, “but something I care deeply about is California independence, and I was disappointed it wasn’t picking up the steam I felt it should have.”
Yes California plans to hold a Valentine’s Day rally on the north side of the Capitol at noon, urging supporters to read and sign a “declaration of independence” from the United States. Then they will march to the attorney general’s office with signs announcing, “It’s time for a divorce,” to submit their latest ballot initiative, which they hope to qualify for the 2020 election. It would establish an independence referendum vote on May 4, 2021.
Since “Calexit” fizzled, supporters of the idea have pursued two unsuccessful alternatives. Marinelli acknowledged that living in Russia created some “baggage” for the campaign, and he returned to California so he would no longer be a distraction for what he feels is a crucial opportunity to resolve the state’s “irreconcilable differences” with the Trump administration.
“California becoming a country is going to open up some doors for Californians,” he said. “It’s really going to be an impetus to change the world.”
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The union also backed state Senate leader Kevin de León over incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “Kevin de León is a leader who speaks up for California values. His leadership on the most pressing challenges facing California stands in stark contrast with the dysfunctional political establishment in Washington, D.C.,” executive board member David Huerta said in a statement.