The Movement to Make a 51st State in California Is Alive and Mostly Well

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Voters in three northern California counties were split over whether to dare to dream about a creating breakaway 51st state. The proposed State of Jefferson (as in Thomas, not Davis) stems from a movement to carve out a brand new state in north California and southern Oregon.

In recent years, the idea has been enjoying something of a renaissance, particularly in California. Rural, poor, politically conservative, and home to some of the country's best marijuana, the region encompasses an area that Jefferson advocates argue is underrepresented by lawmakers in both statehouses. The explanation of the design of the state flag (see above) is anything but diffident about that:

The 2 X's in the Jefferson Seal represent the people being double-crossed by Salem and Sacramento."

And so, Jeffersonians are hard at work to gain their independence. The language of the two ballot measures yesterday called for the county board of supervisors in Del Norte and Tehama counties to “adopt a Declaration of Support for the proposed separation from the State of California and formation of a new state.” 

While the measure failed by a count of 59 to 41 percent in Del Norte, it passed 56 to 44 percent in Tehama, joining four other California counties (Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou, and Yuba) that voted 'yes' on similar measures last year. 

Meanwhile, in Siskiyou, they were a bit more impatient. The county held a separate vote yesterday to rename itself the Republic of Jefferson. It failed, but not by that much.

The efforts haven't gone unnoticed. (Russia Today naturally pounced on the story.) Last night, California Gov. Jerry Brown addressed the votes from the governor's mansion in Sacramento: "I'm going to definitely talk to the people of Jefferson and tell them to stick around."

It won't be an easy climb to statehood. First, the idea has to be approved by the California Legislature before it goes on to Congress. According to Jeffersonians, there are as many as 16 NorCal counties that could join in, creating an area that would "make up more than a quarter of the state's land mass."

For what it's worth, all the places mentioned in Tupac/Dr. Dre's "California Love" would still remain in California. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.