SAN DIEGO -
A group of San Diego business leaders who publicly supported assemblyman and failed mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher's departure earlier this year from the Republican Party said Thursday they now back Councilman Carl DeMaio in the mayor's race.
At a news conference, members of "Move to the Middle" said they prefer the economic plans of DeMaio, a member of the GOP, over those of Rep. Bob Filner, his Democratic rival.
DeMaio claims that around two-thirds of the members of the group have endorsed him, including some Democrats.
While opponents criticize DeMaio as a divisive presence on the City Council, he said as mayor he would listen to all sides and work with everyone to implement ideas without regard for party label.
"In my administration, everyone will be welcome," DeMaio said. "Everyone will be around the table, Democrat, Republican and independent."
Scott Dickey, one of the founders of Movement to the Middle, said DeMaio had to push people to effect change, creating hard feelings. In executive office, he would have to act differently, said Dickey, president and CEO of Competitor Group.
Democrats Cecilia Moreno, who runs Crest Cafe, and David Moreno, a partner in the Hughes-Marino commercial real estate enterprise, both spoke at the news conference to support DeMaio.
Filner said the endorsements were "amazing" considering the group's original positions.
"The Move to the Middle has taken a sharp U-turn to the extreme right," Filner said.
He said DeMaio ridiculed the group when it came out in support of Fletcher, who failed to make the runoff election.
At his own news conference, the congressman said as mayor he would try to double funding for local arts and culture programs. The city's Commission on Arts and Culture was founded when he was a councilman, he said.
"Right now, our city devotes about $15 million worth of support of the arts, which is about a half-cent out of the 10 and a half cent transient occupancy tax," Filner said, referring to the city's levy on hotel room rates. "I want to double that, which would be another $15 million."
Filner said investment in the arts pays for itself. San Diego's public financial support of the arts is comparatively low, while private support is strong, he said.
The congressman, who grew up in New York City, said arts and culture are part of what makes a community great.