Today, San Diego business executives announced the launch of Movement to the Middle, a grassroots coalition focused on finding solutions to partisanship gridlock. Echoing frustration with the two-party system, business leaders from different political backgrounds joined together to declare: "I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am an American."
Among those attending were Peggy Johnson, Executive VP at Qualcomm Inc., Brian Malarkey, Partner and Chef at Fabric Social Dining, Dan Shea, President and CEO of Donovan's, Scott Dickey, CEO and President of Competitor Group, and Bill Davidson, Senior VP, Global Marketing at Qualcomm Inc.
Kicking off the press conference was Competitor Group CEO Scott Dickey. Characterizing the group as fiscally conservative and socially progressive, Dickey explained that the coalition formed as a reaction to San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher's departure from the Republican Party.Showing us his voter registration forms, Competitor Group CEO Scott Dickey proclaimed: "Life long Republican turned Independent"
Dickey blamed the polarized political climate for the lack of representation for moderates and independents:
"Because of the polarized political climate, we are not well represented and are overshadowed by the extreme right and left. We are no longer going to accept being short changed and deprived of smart solutions…Americans want leaders to solve real issues having San Diego and it's time to achieve it."
Dane Chapin, Partner at Zephyr Partners, followed suite, speaking to the importance of giving moderates and independent voters a voice. He made clear that the coalition "will be here for as long as it takes to get politicians of all persuasions to start listening."
Qualcomm Executive VP Peggy Johnson encouraged people to sign up on the website to join the movement, adding that "it's time for the moderate majority to step up and take hold of the process."
So what made almost 40 San Diego business executives sign on to movement, despite the possibility of political backlash? We asked Scott Dickey:
"It wasn't hard because the message is so clear. We were inspired by Nathan Fletcher's bold move to leave partisan bickering behind and move toward compromise. I've known Nathan for almost a decade, and it made sense to form the coalition." He continued, "In the last ten years, the parties have moved to the fringe; we're going to create a highway down the middle and capture the attention of the silent centrist."
We followed up by asking about the future plans for the coalition, to which he answered: "We'll see where it goes," adding that he expected the number of pledged business executives to grow to 100 in the next few days.
When asked whether the coalition would endorse candidates in the future, the group's co-founders agreed that since their decision was inspired by Fletcher's campaign, yes. Dickey did not define the role of the coalition in endorsing specific issues, however, stating that while the coalition is one "focused on solutions and clearly will be issue oriented," it remains to be seen over the next few weeks what role it will take in issue specific endorsements.
After the press conference, many members of the coalition headed down to the registrar's office to officially change their political party to "No Party Preference."