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Fabian Nunez to lead campaign vs. ‘Six Californias’

Former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez will chair OneCalifornia, the effort opposing the “Six Californias” ballot measure pushed for 2016’s ballot by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper.

Fabian Nunez“Six Californias is an impractical, unworkable, and unconstitutional scheme that is undermining the California brand throughout the world just as our state is making an economic comeback,” Núñez said in a news release. “Our state’s diversity has always been its strength; tearing it up into six pieces is a solution in search of a problem that does nothing to address the challenges we face as a state that we need to tackle with the greatest talent pool imaginable: nearly 40 million Californians.”

The measure would split California into six states, each with its own government; much of the Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, would become the state of Silicon Valley. California’s northernmost parts would become Jefferson, as some counties up there have wanted for years; some North Bay counties would become part of North California; Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield would be among Central California’s largest cities; Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara would wind up in West California; and San Diego would anchor South California.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reports Draper’s plan to split California – now 14th among the 50 states in per capita income – would create both the nation’s richest state (Silicon Valley) and its poorest (Central California).

Núñez, 47, who served as Speaker from 2004 to 2008 and is now a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, will lead a political and legal drive against the measure. OneCalifornia was founded by Forward Observer CEO and former Gov. Wilson Cabinet Secretary Joe Rodota and Steven Maviglio, former press secretary and now a Sacramento-based Democratic political strategist.

A Six Californias spokesman didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.

DRAPER map 022514Draper, 56, of Atherton, in July filed about 1.3 million petition signatures Tuesday in hopes of qualifying the measure for the November 2016 ballot. Six Californias has yet to report any contributions by anyone other than Draper, who has put $5.2 million into it so far.

The deadline for counties to report signature verification is next Friday, Sept. 12, and OneCalifornia claims the qualification rate so far isn’t looking good: The measure is below the 71.0% validity rate required to qualify for the ballot in a majority of potential “states” and below the 67.4% validity rate required for a full count in half the “states.”

“I hope this will be a short-term gig,” Núñez said of his OneCalifornia leadership. “For our state’s sake, I’m hoping voters will not have to endure further discussion of a such an ill-conceived and meritless idea that’s become the subject of late night talk show jokes.”

If enough signatures are verified, however, Núñez says the OneCalifornia committee will explore a legal challenge. Based partly on my reporting, the OneCalifornia committee has called for the Secretary of State to investigate reports of signature-gathering fraud by the firm Draper hired, Carlsbad-based Arno Political Consultants.

UPDATE @ 3:44 P.M.: “These guys are spending an awful lot of time on something they don’t believe to be real,” Six Californias spokesman Roger Salazar said Thursday. “It’s no secret political insiders don’t like Six Californias because it decentralizes power to regional leaders. Six Californias gives us a chance, a choice and a change.”

UPDATE @ 4:30 P.M.: Draper just issued a statement about Fremont-based electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors’ decision to site its first battery “gigafactory” in Nevada. Note that Draper is an investor in Tesla and Steve Jurvetson – who with Draper and John Fisher founded a prominent venture-capital firm – sits on the company’s board of directors:

Tim Draper“Today California has lost another opportunity to create more jobs, and improve our economic environment. Losing Tesla to Nevada is just another reminder that our state needs change. California has high unemployment and the percentage of people living below the poverty line is steadily increasing. Our state needs a massive investment in infrastructure and a streamlined process to help grow and keep businesses.”

“How much longer do we tolerate a monolithic, job losing California? We continue to live in the state ranked worst in the nation for business. Six Californias gives us a chance, a choice and a change—and more jobs.”

“Six Californias is our opportunity to solve the many problems we face today. Six Californias gives us an opportunity to create a better future for all 38 million of us. Six states that are more representative and accountable. Six states that embrace innovation and strive to improve the lives of residents. With Six Californias we can refresh our government. California is a beautiful place to live. Let’s make it a great place to thrive.”

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Draper puts $750k into ‘Six Californias’ measure

The venture capitalist who wants to break California into six states has put his money where his mouth is.

Well, some money, at least. Tim Draper of Atherton gave $750,000 to his “Six Californias” committee on Wednesday, according to a report filed Thursday with the Secretary of State’s office.

That’s not chump change for us ordinary folks, but it’s not a huge percentage of Draper’s sizable personal fortune. Nor is it nearly enough by itself to bankroll the paid petition circulation that would be needed to gather 808,000 signatures by mid-April in order to put the measure on this November’s ballot.

Nice down payment, though, especially given that when asked on Monday how much he was willing to spend on this, Draper had replied, “as little as possible.” He also had said he knew several other people who were eager to contribute to the measure, but he refused to name them; so far, Draper remains Six Californias’ only donor.

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GOP record of ‘Six Californias’ backer Tim Draper

Venture capitalist Tim Draper – the man behind a proposed ballot measure to split California into six states – seemed discomfited when a reporter at his news conference Monday cited his history of funding conservative causes, but it’s a well-documented history nonetheless.

Tim Draper“I don’t fit into either political party,” said Draper, a registered Republican. But a review of his political spending over the past decade shows a clear preference for GOP candidates and causes – and that’s since the $20 million he spent on his own unsuccessful school voucher initiative in 2000.

Now he’s pushing this “Six Californias” measure – or is he? He’s holding news conferences about it, but said Monday he’d like to spend “as little as possible” from his own pocket to put it on the ballot and support it; he also claimed to have others willing to bankroll the measure, but refused to name them. He wouldn’t say whether he’s aiming for this year’s ballot – which would require a herculean signature drive essentially by mid-April – or waiting for 2016.

Draper did say Monday that he had discussed the measure by phone at some point with Gov. Jerry Brown; asked whether Brown had expressed any support (or said it sounded crazy), Draper replied, “Gov. Brown is a very open-minded, creative guy… He’s governing a state that is ungovernable and I think he sees that.

Asked Tuesday what the governor thinks of Draper’s plan, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup replied that “while we generally do not comment on pending ballot measures, the proposal has serious practical challenges.”

Draper gave generously over the years to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s various campaigns and causes. Spokespeople for Schwarzenegger didn’t return emails Tuesday seeking his opinion of Draper’s new effort, and Schwarzenegger himself didn’t respond to a tweet asking the same.

IF this did really make it onto the ballot, and IF Californians could be convinced it was a good idea, what would the practical effects include? Well, for one thing, California’s monolithic 55 electoral votes – awarded “winner-take-all” to whichever presidential candidate wins the state’s popular vote – presumably would be split among the six new states, putting some of them within the GOP’s reach for the first time in more than 25 years.

See a list of Draper’s political contributions since 2003, after the jump…
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