San Diego Executives Move To The Middle
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Aired 4/25/12 on KPBS News.
They’re socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and they say they’re going independent. A group of San Diego business executives is calling for political moderation.
SAN DIEGO They’re socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and they say they’re going independent. A group of San Diego business executives is calling for political moderation.
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The group of nearly 40 business execs is launching a coalition called Movement to the Middle. It’s meant to provide a political outlet for what organizers are calling an alienated majority of moderate voters.
Qualcomm Executive Vice President Peggy Johnson summed up the questions the group believes many moderates have.
"Can I not be an environmentalist and a Republican? Can I not support lower taxes and be a Democrat? If I’m a pro-choice, fiscal conservative who supports significant pension reform, what party do I belong to?" she asked rhetorically at a press conference today.
Organizers said the inspiration for their group was mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher leaving the Republican Party and running as an independent. Several of the executives have changed their registration to decline-to-state. The group said it’s in its infancy and is still figuring out how it will operate in the future.
Scott Dickey, CEO of the sports-media firm Competitor Group, Inc., said Movement to the Middle is, "a grassroots coalition of business and community leaders motivated to overcome the current lack of productivity in today's political system by pressing for compromise, moderate thinking and solutions, in the name of one word: progress."
The group formed in the last 10 days, he said. The business leaders are "not totally homogenous," but share space in the middle against fringe rhetoric and party dogma, Dickey said. He decried "partisan gamesmanship" at all levels of government.
Dan Shea, president and CEO of Donovan's Restaurants, said their purpose is not to "condemn all Democrats and all Republicans."
"To the political establishment, I say: Have an adult conversation. Understand that it takes cooperation," said Shea.
Reaction from some of Fletcher's opponents in the mayor's race was swift.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement:
“In this race for mayor, no candidate has injected more partisanship than Nathan Fletcher. This is the latest scene in his contrived political soap opera after losing the Republican Party’s endorsement.
“The real issues facing the city are schools teetering on the edge of a state takeover, a local unemployment rate that is back on the rise, and a big tax hike from Sacramento in November.
“As District Attorney I make independent decisions every day based on the law and the right thing to do, not any political party. As mayor, I’ll continue to make the tough decisions based on what’s best for all San Diegans."
And Councilman Carl DeMaio had this response (also in a statement):
"Today State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher’s masterful gamesmanship continued as he attempted to use his millionaire campaign backers to make the case for his independence. Ironically, the wealthy downtown insiders featured at the press conference are the same people who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his Super PAC.
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“I think the question is not why are a bunch of millionaire backers joining their hand-picked Mayoral candidate in an election year ploy. Didn’t we all see that coming? But will Democrat voters be fooled by a politician who just last month proudly said he voted for ‘voted for an all-cuts budget, not one that reduced welfare but one that eliminated it,’” said DeMaio.
Instead of creating front groups to back his campaign, Nathan Fletcher should focus on doing the job he was elected to do and talking about real solutions for San Diego."