Activist Cindy Sheehan puts on a T-shirt in support of a plan to make California an independent nation on May 19, 2017 in Sacramento. The California Freedom Coalition delivered paperwork to the Attorney General's office to put a initiative on the ballot to make California an independent nation, The group must collect more than 585,000 signatures to qualify for next year's ballot. Rich Pedroncelli AP
Activist Cindy Sheehan puts on a T-shirt in support of a plan to make California an independent nation on May 19, 2017 in Sacramento. The California Freedom Coalition delivered paperwork to the Attorney General's office to put a initiative on the ballot to make California an independent nation, The group must collect more than 585,000 signatures to qualify for next year's ballot. Rich Pedroncelli AP

Capitol Alert

The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

Capitol Alert

These 578 voters want California to form an independent country

By Alexei Koseff

akoseff@sacbee.com

August 10, 2017 06:00 AM

UPDATED August 10, 2017 04:38 PM

Since forming in 2015, the California National Party has been organizing dissatisfied voters and activists into a new political entity with the ultimate goal of an independent California.

The group formally launched a bid last year to gain official status alongside the state’s six qualified political parties, though it still has long way to go. The Secretary of State’s Office reports that, as of February, there are 578 California voters registered with the California National Party; it needs at least 0.33 percent of total voter registration, or about 64,000 members, to gain formal status and be listed on the ballot in next year’s statewide elections. (The organization projects that it has about 3,000.)

That recruitment process will continue with the California National Party’s third annual convention, which takes place on Sunday at the Betty Ong Rec Center in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to qualify a California secession initiative, is the keynote speaker. Attendees will also revise the party’s progressive official platform, which in addition to the contention that the Golden State is overtaxed and underrepresented on the national stage, advocates single-payer universal healthcare, an overhaul of policing and criminal justice policies, high-speed rail and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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The California National Party is distinct from “CalExit,” another effort to leave the United States and form a new country that has struggled so far to put that issue before voters. Members say they are interested in forming a more sustained political movement that can disrupt the two-party system. Louis Marinelli mounted the first campaign as a California National Party candidate last year, finishing third in the 80th Assembly District primary with about 6 percent of the vote, though the group says it never endorsed him.

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WORTH REPEATING: “My beloved dog died yesterday. Today, I get my office moved to the dog house. Go figure.” – Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, who left her caucus job in protest after GOP leader Chad Mayes backed climate change bills.

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MUST READ: When it comes to marijuana edibles, start low and go slow.

GETTING BIZ-Y WITH IT: California politics’ hottest party tonight is the Los Angeles County Business Federation’s Freshman Policymakers reception. It has everyone: Chiang and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who are both scheduled to speak; Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma; Rep. Nanette Baragán, D-Los Angeles; and a dozen state lawmakers, as well as hundreds of local government and business leaders. The annual event honoring newly elected officials from Los Angeles County starts at 5 p.m. at AVALON Hollywood in Los Angeles.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who turns 60 today. Early well wishes to Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, who will be 30 on Saturday, and Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who is 63 on Saturday.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff