Poll: Condoleezza Rice, Kamala Harris Top 2016 Senate Field In California

Poll: Condoleezza Rice, Kamala Harris Top 2016 Senate Field In California

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News (TNS)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Californians like the sound of “Senator Condoleezza Rice” — but apparently more than she does.

The former U.S. secretary of state polled better than 17 other possible 2016 U.S. Senate candidates in a new Field Poll, including a popular Democrat who has already declared her candidacy for Barbara Boxer’s soon-to-be-vacant seat, California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

But there’s one problem for Republicans: She has no intention of jumping into the race.

“Dr. Rice plans to stay at Stanford and continue life as a professor, and as such she has no plans to run for office in 2016,” Georgia Godfrey, her chief of staff, said Tuesday. And the poll shows no other potential Republican candidate coming close.

The early poll is mostly a measure of name recognition, but it might add a little wind to Harris’ sails. She keeps rolling out endorsements almost daily, while her potential rivals stand around with wetted fingers in the air. And it’s not great news for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who polls strongly among Latinos but not nearly as well among likely voters overall — even those from Southern California.

“This just shows you how wide open politics are in this state right now,” said Bill Whalen, a veteran GOP strategist and speechwriter who is now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover

But Whalen said it’s generally good for Harris, even if it’s only a measure of her name recognition. “It underscores the tail wind she has in this election,” he said.

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a University of Southern California senior scholar and political expert, said Rice is “a very attractive Republican candidate on the surface.” But in a strongly Democratic state like California, Rice’s close association with the George W. Bush administration’s foreign policy — most notably, the Iraq War — means “a lot of baggage,” Jeffe said.

Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said “voters are only tuning in very casually, so what usually comes to the top of the list are the potential candidates who voters have the most knowledge about, or at least have heard about.” But the poll found “the voters are open to a wide range of possibilities,” he added.

The poll offered 11 Democratic choices and seven Republican choices, for which 972 likely voters said they were inclined or disinclined to vote or had no opinion. “We tried to not leave off any possible person,” DiCamillo said.

Forty-nine percent of likely voters told pollsters Jan. 26 through Monday that they were inclined to vote for Rice, while 46 percent said they were inclined to vote for Harris — within the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Next came Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, at 39 percent; California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, at 38 percent; Democratic U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, at 36 percent; Democratic U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, at 36 percent; former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, at 35 percent; and former Rep. Jane Harman, a Democrat, at 35 percent.
Of those candidates, only Villaraigosa and Sanchez have expressed an interest in running for Boxer’s seat.

The next-closest potential Republican candidate in the poll is former state Sen. Phil Wyman, whom 24 percent of likely voters said they would be inclined to support — behind all 11 of the Democratic could-be candidates.

Tied for last place at 20 percent were GOP state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez — who announced Tuesday that he’s forming an exploratory committee for the race — and former state GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim, who has expressed interest in the race.

Brian Brokaw, Harris’ campaign manager, said the attorney general has won races pundits said she could never win, and never takes a campaign for granted. With the primary still 16 months away, he said, “we are very encouraged by the strong, early support, from not only Democrats but also no-party-preference voters, Latino voters and Southern California voters.”

Among Latino likely voters, 60 percent said they were inclined to support Villaraigosa, 54 percent said Padilla, 52 percent said Harris, 51 percent said Sanchez, 48 percent said Rice, and 48 percent said Harman.

Among Southern California likely voters, Rice led at 53 percent with Harris at 46 percent, Sanchez and Padilla at 39 percent, Garamendi and Harman at 35 percent; and Villaraigosa at 33 percent. In Northern California, Harris topped the list at 47 percent, with Rice at 45 percent, Speier at 43 percent, Sanchez at 39 percent, Garamendi and Padilla at 38 percent, and Villaraigosa at 37 percent.

Among nonpartisan likely voters — a crucial bloc, as 23 percent of California voters now state no party affiliation — Rice led with 54 percent inclined to support her, while Harris had 42 percent, Harman had 37 percent and Garamendi had 34 percent.

Charlotte Chastain, 85, of San Jose, told the Field Poll that Rice was among a handful of candidates for whom she would be inclined to vote. Chastain said she’s a “dyed-in-the-wool Democrat,” but listens to all candidates with an open mind.

Rice “has a positive attitude, and I think she’s attempting to do things that other women in political office have never attempted,” said Chastain, now retired after working for decades as a volunteer for veterans’ causes. “She’s a brave woman and I’d like to hear more of her ideas.”

Photo: darthdowney via Flickr

Carly Fiorina Prepares A Long-Shot Candidacy For President

Carly Fiorina Prepares A Long-Shot Candidacy For President

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News (TNS)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Carly Fiorina blazed a trail as the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company, and the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard now seems to have an even bigger “first-ever” achievement in mind.

Fiorina, 60, is declaring “the end of the Obama era” at national conservative conferences, paying not-so-subtle visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, and courting potential contributors and staff for what looks like a presidential campaign by the only woman so far in the Republican field.

But even as “Carly for California” seems about to become “Carly for America,” Fiorina faces hurdles left behind by her business career and by the failure of her one political campaign. Despite using $6.5 million of her own money, her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign still has an outstanding debt. And having left California for the Washington Beltway a few years ago, she doesn’t have much of a geographic constituency.

Fiorina’s office in Virginia refused a request for a telephone interview this week. Spokeswoman Tracy Tribby — Fiorina’s daughter — said “she is booked this year.”

If Fiorina is angling for a White House run, she seems undaunted by a McClatchy-Marist poll released this week, which showed she has the support of 1 percent of GOP voters, trailing 13 other potential presidential candidates — all men.

But even if Fiorina can’t build enough momentum to be a real contender, a campaign would boost her visibility for other options. Perhaps she’s trolling for a vice presidential nod — though she might have to compete with Republican officeholders such as U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley or New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

Or perhaps Fiorina is looking ahead to another California Senate run if Dianne Feinstein retires as widely expected in 2018; of course, she would have to move back here first.

Whatever her goal, her record is putting some obstacles in her way.

Her 2010 challenge to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer ended in a 10-point defeat even as Republicans made big off-year election gains elsewhere across the nation. And the last person to win the presidency without any experience in elected office was Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had built name recognition and goodwill by commanding Allied forces in Europe during World War II before serving as the Army’s chief of staff, Columbia University’s president and NATO’s supreme commander.

California Republican Party officials this year alluded to Fiorina and to 2010 gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman as they stressed the importance of rebuilding the party by winning local elections as the way to build a bench of qualified candidates for higher office. Both candidates jumped into tough statewide races with no prior political experience.

“A lot of people, like moths, like to go to the light, and the light is those big races” at the ticket’s top, California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte said in March. Yet, he noted, restoring the Republican brand means “grinding it out on the ground” over several election cycles. Brulte declined to comment for this story.

State Republican Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said she supports that philosophy too, though sometimes it’s good to “think outside the box.”

Fiorina “ran a strong campaign for Senate — she didn’t win, but she outperformed a lot of other people on the ticket,” such as Whitman, Dhillon said. “And I think she’s a conservative candidate. She certainly is as qualified as several other people who are running, if not more so.”

Her business record is a matter of contention. As she reshaped Hewlett-Packard to cope with the dot-com bubble’s collapse, the company’s stock value declined considerably and the board forced her to resign in 2005.

“She actually had a pretty decent vision” of reinventing HP with a richer set of consumer electronics supported by the company’s own services, said tech analyst Rob Enderle. “The problem was, she didn’t understand the underlying components, so executing that vision became problematic.”

HP’s board also didn’t appreciate how much time Fiorina spent focused on President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign instead of on the struggling tech giant, Enderle said. “Her history and job experience are going to kill her, but in terms of performance in front of an audience, she’s in (Sarah) Palin’s class and probably has a lot more depth. She’s very fast on her feet.”

“From an entertainment standpoint, I hope she runs,” he said. “I don’t think she stands a chance of winning, though.”

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Billionaire’s Political Ads Criticized By Fact-Checking Groups

Billionaire’s Political Ads Criticized By Fact-Checking Groups

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Bay Area billionaire Tom Steyer’s blitz against candidates who are soft on climate change is underway in seven states, but some prominent fact-checking groups say he’s emitting enough hot air to melt a few glaciers.

Negative reviews from watchdogs like PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and The Washington Post are dogging one of the nation’s biggest political donors, a former hedge fund manager who ditched his ties to fossil fuels and presented himself as a transparent antidote to the conservative Koch brothers’ semi-clandestine funding network.

Playing fast and loose with the facts is “unwise simply because you’re handing a bat to your opponents to use squarely over your noggin,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “It sounds to me as if they need their own fact-checkers on staff.”

Steyer, 57, of San Francisco, was unavailable for an interview. But Bobby Whithorne, spokesman for Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action super PAC, said: “We stand by our ads.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog in January, however, awarded its dreaded “four Pinocchios” rating to a NextGen ad citing Chinese investment in Canada’s tar sands and claiming the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would produce oil only for other countries. The Chinese investment is small, the Post found, and NextGen took an oil executive’s words out of context to imply that no oil carried by the pipeline will remain in the U.S.

The ad “relies on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by the reality,” the Post said.

Last October, PolitiFact — a renowned fact-checking project run by the Tampa Bay Times — gave its “pants on fire” rating to a NextGen ad claiming Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, then running for governor, wanted to “eliminate all forms of birth control.” Cuccinelli has repeatedly said he has no interest in restricting contraception, PolitiFact noted.

This month, PolitiFact gave “half-true” ratings to a pair of NextGen ads attacking Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s ties to energy companies and polluters. FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said it didn’t dispute the statement of critics that one of the Florida ads was “total fiction,” though the GOP response had “glaring factual problems” too.

And PolitiFact this month deemed “false” a NextGen ad accusing Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst of having signed a pledge that “protects tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” The pledge was a broad vow to oppose all tax hikes.

But Whithorne, Steyer’s spokesman, noted that an Iowa television station had determined that the ad was “mostly true.”

And he is quick to defend all of NextGen’s ads: “The facts are there, and we provide extensive backup to substantiate the claims. With less than 80 days until the midterms, we’ll continue to keep the pressure on the anti-science candidates and highlight their extreme positions.”

Steyer is used to political battles. He took lead roles in California ballot-measure campaigns to defend the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law and to close a $1billion-per-year corporate tax loophole.

Two years ago, he announced he would step down from his business and turn to public policy. He founded NextGen and said he hoped to spend $100 million — half from his own pocket, half raised from others — to challenge candidates across the nation on climate change issues. Steyer says the Koch brothers are out to enrich themselves, while he’s putting the planet first.

In Iowa, Ernst’s campaign is urging television stations to take down NextGen’s ad. In Florida, Scott’s legal counsel issued cease-and-desist letters telling stations to stop airing one of the ads; at least one, in Fort Myers, complied. And Californians Against Higher Oil Taxes, founded earlier this year by oil industry trade groups and other business organizations, says Steyer’s ads help make a case against him.

“It just goes to show that if the public understands the truth about his policies, they’re not going to support it because it’s going to drive up their cost of living,” spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said. “So it seems he’s pivoted to lies and distortions of the truth to sell the public on something they’re not buying.”

Sabato, however, said the ads are meant more to mobilize already-sympathetic voters than to change minds. And Tom Hollihan, a University of Southern California political communications expert, agreed.

“For the people for whom the ads are the primary audience, the fact-checking might not have much consequence,” Hollihan said, adding that the fact checks have more effect in correcting the record for media and policymakers.

Steyer doesn’t seem to have raised enough money to reach his $100 million spending goal but has spent more than $20 million so far in this election cycle.

Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics and former chairman of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, said the ads’ targets have little choice but to up their own antes.

“Until someone decides to spend just as much money in opposition to these messages as NextGen has spent broadcasting them,” he said, “most voters will never hear a doubting word.”

Screenshot: NextGen Climate/YouTube

Marijuana Legalization In Colorado: So Far, So Good

Marijuana Legalization In Colorado: So Far, So Good

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News

Long a leader in making marijuana mainstream, California is watching Colorado blaze a trail for legalized recreational pot with avid eyes.

The mood in Colorado is good. Six months in, few of the predicted problems have materialized, tax revenue and tourism are booming, and public support for legal pot appears to be growing.

Voters approved legalization in 2012 by a margin of 10 percent, but a March poll found Colorado voters now favor it by a 22-point margin. And 61 percent believe it has made the state better or not changed it. Another poll in April found that most people believe it’s been good for the state, hasn’t made driving less safe and will save taxpayers money and increase personal freedom.

Still, there have been problems.

Hospitals are seeing more kids made ill by edible marijuana products like candy and baked goods, and more adults are having psychotic episodes. Opponents and supporters are still debating whether crime is up or down. And marijuana businesses are still trying to build working relationships with banks that are leery of the federal marijuana ban.

California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996. And as the state prepares to take another stab at legalization after voters defeated a 2010 measure, it’s looking at Colorado as a template in progress.

“There was this hushed anticipation of what might happen … but the sky didn’t fall,” said Amanda Reiman, California policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, which will help lead a 2016 ballot measure campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in the Golden State. “We didn’t see people quitting their jobs and becoming lazy stoners. We didn’t see kids dropping out of schools by the hundreds. We didn’t see people peddling pot in schoolyards.”

But, she said, “I’m glad we didn’t go first.”

Colorado and Washington state “are both laboratories right now, opportunities for us and other states to see what works and what doesn’t.”

As of January 1, Coloradans 21 and older can buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time. They can also grow up to six plants for personal use, and nonresidents can buy up to a quarter-ounce.

Buyers at licensed retail stores pay 12.9 percent in state sales taxes, plus a 15 percent excise tax. The levies brought in a total of almost $11 million by the end of April, with strong month-to-month growth. The excise tax’s first $40 million is earmarked for school construction.

As the revenue rolls in, supporters of legal marijuana say jobs abound and tourism is up — 2013-14 was the state’s best-ever ski season.

“There are so many positive indicators,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group trade association. “It’s tough for us to take credit for all this, but I certainly think we’re helping and not hurting.”

Elliott estimated about 10,000 Coloradans now work in the marijuana industry, not counting construction workers, landlords, accountants, attorneys, labeling and packaging companies, testing labs and many others who are also benefiting from the boom.

Yet opponents say there isn’t enough data yet, and there are too many troublesome anecdotes to call the law a success.

The increase in young children ingesting edible marijuana products began with the commercialization of Colorado’s medical marijuana sector in 2009 but shot up again with this year’s recreational legalization, said Dr. George Wang, an emergency physician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Its emergency room saw eight cases in 2013 but 12 so far this year; seven children needed intensive care, and two needed breathing tubes.

“They’ve all stayed in the hospital typically for a day or two … until the symptoms resolve.”

Marijuana-related adult emergency-room visits are up too, said Dr. Andrew Monte, an emergency physician and toxicologist at the nearby University of Colorado Hospital. But, he said, this happens whenever any new medicinal or recreational drug hits the market.

“People don’t quite know how to use it yet, dosing has not been established and people don’t know what the side effects are,” so people are showing up with short-term psychiatric problems, he said.

“We’re going to have this peak, and then it will decline … as the industry and the public become more educated regarding its use,” said Monte, who, with Wang, sits on a legislative advisory panel reviewing state marijuana policies. “That’s the type of learning curve I hope other states would get from Colorado.”

New laws enacted in May require that marijuana edibles be sold in child-resistant, opaque, resealable packaging. The state is also now deciding how edibles can be shaped, stamped or colored to show they contain marijuana. And Elliott said the industry is moving away from high-potency edibles desirable as medicine toward lower doses that give recreational users the pleasant high they seek.

“The free market is at work,” he said.

Statewide criminal justice data isn’t available yet, but Elliott and other supporters note crime in Denver decreased first five months of this year compared with the same period last year.

Indeed, the four kinds of violent offenses and five kinds of property offenses reported under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program were down 10.1 percent. But a broader measure — 46 kinds of offenses included in the National Incident-Based Reporting System — shows crime rose 10.2 percent in Denver.

Elsewhere, the Colorado State Patrol issued 289 citations for driving under the influence of marijuana from January through May, although drivers had also used alcohol or other drugs in 129 of those cases. Marijuana was involved in 12.5 percent of all DUIs in those five months, a statistic the state only began tracking this year.

Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — a group that helps coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement efforts — said it’s too early to say whether more minors are using marijuana, leading to more instances of unsafe sex, failing classes or dropping out of school. “We don’t want to lose a generation of kids,” he said.

Meanwhile, profitability has become a liability for many marijuana businesses. The federal ban makes many banks and credit-card issuers loath to let the businesses open accounts, so it has become a largely cash industry — and having a lot of cash around raises the risk of crime.

Whatever happens next, Colorado is teaching the nation that “the instincts of voters are right, that regulating marijuana works, and that it’s always better to manage a substance like marijuana in the light of day and under the rule of law than consign it to the shadows,” said Stephen Gutwillig, the Drug Policy Alliance’s deputy executive director.

But Gorman said that’s just “spin and half-truths.”

“You’ve waited this long,” he advised California, “so you can wait a little longer and make a decision that’s based on facts and data, not rhetoric.”

AFP Photo/Theo Stroomer

Facebook, Instagram Impose New Rules On Gun Sales

Facebook, Instagram Impose New Rules On Gun Sales

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News

Gun control groups praised Facebook Inc. on Wednesday for changing its policies to block potentially illegal firearm sales online.

The Menlo Park, California-based social network giant and its photo-sharing subsidiary, Instagram, have agreed to delete any posts that indicate a seller won’t conduct a background check or that a buyer wants to avoid such a check.

They’ll also block all children from viewing reported posts from individual gun sellers or gun pages where guns are sold or traded; let users to report posts that may facilitate or promote potentially illegal gun activity; delete reported posts that indicate that a seller is willing to sell across state lines.

Facebook will require private sellers who are reported for offering a gun for sale to acknowledge the relevant laws — including those requiring background checks — that apply to them; without such acknowledgement, sellers will be blocked from using the site.

And when someone searches on Facebook-owned photo service Instagram for a hashtag related to gun offers — like “(hashtag)guns4sale,” which turned up 133 posts Wednesday morning — they’ll be required to acknowledge the relevant laws that apply to them in this area before they see search results.

“We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, said in her company’s news release. “We believe these collective efforts represent the right approach in balancing people’s desire to express themselves while promoting a safe, responsible community.”

The announcement follows a monthlong campaign by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and officials from Facebook and Mayors Against Illegal Guns had direct discussions leading to the new policies.

“Our campaign showed how easy it is for minors, felons and other dangerous people to get guns online — that’s why moms and more than 230,000 Americans signed our petition, tweeted and used social media to ask Facebook and Instagram to do something about gun sales facilitated on their networks,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said in a news release Wednesday.

“There’s still so much to be done — by corporations, by Congress, and by local leaders — to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” she added. “Moms have momentum, and we’re moving the country toward a culture of gun safety one company, one legislator, one law at a time. We’re going to keep applying pressure to corporations and political leaders until they do more to reduce the gun violence that plagues our country.”

Mayors Against Illegal Guns chairman John Feinblatt said, “The ‘private sale loophole’ allows anonymous parties to sell guns without background checks, and there are simply too many ways for criminals, minors and other prohibited gun purchasers to get them easily — with just the click of a mouse. We are grateful that Facebook and Instagram are making major moves to prevent these sales from happening via their platforms.”

AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm

Venture Capitalist Insists ‘Six Californias’ Ballot Measure Is For Real

Venture Capitalist Insists ‘Six Californias’ Ballot Measure Is For Real

By Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News

SAN MATEO, Calif. — Venture capitalist Tim Draper insisted again Monday that he’s not just joking about his proposal to split California into six states.

The secretary of state has now given Draper the go-ahead to start collecting signatures for his ballot measure, but the Silicon Valley tech investor offered mostly off-the-cuff answers at a news conference Monday when asked how he would run or fund a campaign that has generated plenty of media attention and a huge dose of “Is he really serious?” suspicion.

Draper said he hasn’t yet decided whether to try for this November’s ballot — for which he’d effectively have to gather almost 808,000 voters’ signatures by mid-April — or try to put it on the 2016 ballot.

“What I’m proposing here is to bring us closer to our government,” he said. “We are all better off with more local government — local government is more efficient, it’s more effective, it represents us better.”

In areas from schools to prisons to public infrastructure, “we spend the most and we get the least” in California, said Draper, 55, of Atherton. “Leaving California the way it is, the status quo, is a crime.”

His proposed measure would split California into six states, each with its own government; much of the San Francisco Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, would become the state of Silicon Valley.

The northernmost parts of the state would become the state of 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.

Each new state would determine its own type of government; dividing California’s existing debt either would be negotiated among them or divided among them according to population.

If California voters approve the measure, splitting the state still would require action by Congress. “But once it gets passed, I believe there will be some strong momentum,” Draper said Monday, adding perhaps New York, Florida and Illinois might decide to split, too.

“I have worked on this for years,” he said, adding he has taken time off from his global venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, to make a contribution to society — and this is it. “This is something I just have to do, I just feel it.”

Draper, who spent $20 million on an unsuccessful school-voucher ballot measure in 2000, said he isn’t interested in running for governor of Silicon Valley or any other office real or imagined — a question raised by critics who say this proposed measure is little more than a ham-handed political publicity stunt.

Calfornia’s beauty and strength is rooted in its size and diversity, said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Pleasanton.) “Six Californias is a foolhardy plan to tear that apart,” Swalwell said.

Even getting on the ballot seems like a long shot, given that Draper said Monday he hopes to spend “as little as possible” to accomplish this. “I’ve got a whole bunch of people who are willing to raise money for this,” he claimed, refusing to name any.

Draper has until July 18 to gather signatures from 807,615 registered voters in order to put the measure on the ballot. But in order to put it on this year’s ballot, he’d basically have to submit signatures to county registrars by April 18 so they and the secretary and state can certify the measure by mid-year; otherwise, it’ll wait for 2016.

Corey Cook, a University of San Francisco political expert, said he’s “very skeptical” that this is going anywhere, particularly if voters view this through their own self-interest — for example, Central California would probably have the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation while Silicon Valley probably would become the richest.

Dan Newman, a veteran Democratic campaign consultant, called the idea “silliness,” though it could be a full-employment act for people like him. “The thought of California having a dozen U.S. Senate races and six gubernatorial campaigns does have a certain appeal to some of us,” Newman said.

Photo: Amy The Nurse via Flickr