California voters could become the first in the U.S. to formally demand that U.S. troops be pulled out of Iraq.
By a 2 to 1 margin on Wednesday, the state senate voted to place a referendum on troop withdrawal on the February 5 primary ballot. Numerous townships and cities throughout the country have already voted for withdrawal -- but this is the first time the question would ever be put up statewide. And in this case, in the most populous state in the country.
The measure written by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and passed 23-11 along sharp party lines. The bill now moves to the Assembly where it is likely to win approval and then must be signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. So far the governor has taken no position on the matter -- but his signature on the bill could set off a firestorm inside the GOP.
"That war is costing California dearly," said Perata, D-Oakland. "We have contributed the lives and blood of more than 340 Californians. Not a week goes by on this (Senate) floor when a member, Republican or Democrat, stands up to memorialize a fallen soldier, sometimes as young as 18 years old."
A Field Poll in April found that 72 percent of California registered voters disapprove of Bush's handling of the Iraq war and 59 percent felt there should be a specific timetable for the withdrawal of troops.