Calexit leader quits secession effort to make his home in Russia

Interest in pushing for California's secession increased after Donald Trump won the presidency.

Story highlights

  • Leader of a California secession group bids farewell to put down roots in Russia
  • Louis Marinelli has shut down the campaign but others could pick up the effort

(CNN)The Russia-based leader of a Calexit campaign has backed off efforts seeking California's secession from the United States and announced that he intends to "make Russia my new home."

Louis Marinelli, president of the Yes California Independence Campaign, wrote in a farewell statement that he would withdraw efforts to get the question of secession on California's 2018 ballot.
Seen by many as a fringe effort, interest in California's secession increased after Donald Trump won the presidency. The added attention increased scrutiny on Marinelli's residency and drew attention to what he described as "anti-Russian hysteria" in the United States. He wrote that he moved to Russia because of a dispute with the federal government over his wife's immigration status.
"While Washington refused to act and the Americans continued to spew their hatred towards immigrants, Sacramento actively worked to protect our immigrants," he wrote, referring to the state government of California. "It was this contrast which motivated me to start this campaign for independence."

New effort could swell

The campaign began circulating a petition this year supporting the repeal of provisions in the state's constitution that said California is an inseparable part of the United States and placing the question of the state's nationhood to voters. It needed 585,407 valid signatures by July to qualify for next year's ballot.
"It is only proper, given my intention to seek permanent residence in Russia and not return to California in the foreseeable future, to withdraw that petition from circulation, and to allow a new petition, free from ties to me and drafted by others, to be resubmitted at future date of their choosing," Marinelli wrote in his farewell statement.
While one group's efforts may be over, another organization could retool the push to get the question of California secession on the ballot, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Polls have so far not shown widespread support for Calexit.