SACRAMENTO -- The revolution will begin in Visalia -- and it will be led by a man named Maze.
As in Bill Maze, a termed-out Assembly member turned rebel who is pushing for California to split in two: the conservative interior as one state and the liberal coast as another.
"We're looking at establishing a breakaway state," he said, with a new government and a new capital. "We'd actually be creating a 51st state."
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Maze is a conservative Republican who served Visalia in the Assembly until last year. He is tapping into the anger of Valley farmers and others who say environmental rules and high taxes are sending the state into a tailspin.
"Citizens of our once 'Golden State' are frustrated and desperately concerned about the imposition of burdensome regulations, taxation, fees, fees and more fees, and bureaucratic intrusion into our daily lives and businesses," declares downsizeca.org, the movement's Web site.
Under Maze's plan, 13 coastal counties from Los Angeles to Marin would split from the remaining 45 counties, which the Web site calls "the new revitalized California."
To promote the idea, Maze has established a nonprofit group called Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries. The group is selling sponsorships that run from $1,000 to as much as $10,000 -- for a "California Gold" level. So far, they've raised "a few thousand" dollars, Maze said.
Meanwhile, Maze is selling the plan up and down the state, appearing on television and radio shows. With enough money and momentum, he hopes to put the question before the state's voters. According to the U.S. Constitution, Congress and the state Legislature would have to sign off.
The odds are against the plan, for sure.
Californians have tried to parcel the state 27 times before, with most attempts never getting far off the ground, said former Republican Assembly Member Stan Statham, who made the last serious attempt in the early 1990s.
The most famous secession movement came in 1941 when several counties in Northern California and southern Oregon tried to form the State of Jefferson -- until World War II intervened.
Statham, who represented the Redding area, got a bill passed in the Assembly in 1993 to bring a nonbinding question before voters to split the state in three. But the legislation died in the Senate.
He's still for it: "When you divide something that huge to manage into smaller parts, the problems go down in size."
But to others, "it appears on the surface to be too radical an idea," said Statham, who now heads the California Broadcasters Association. "It becomes too much of a fun thing -- and it was only really good for talk show hosts."
A 1993 Field Poll showed 60% of voters against the idea. That sentiment probably hasn't changed much, despite the state's ongoing woes, said Jim Wunderman. He is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business group behind the effort to convene a constitutional convention to fix California's "fundamentally broken" government.
"I strongly suspect that Californians like being Californians and they would reject [Maze's] idea," Wunderman said. "The concept of California collective, I think, is still popular."