A group of San Diego business leaders Wednesday ditched their party affiliations to become independent in hopes of starting a national movement to end partisan gridlock.
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Leaders from companies such as Qualcomm, Donovan's, Ace Parking and Competitor Group, Inc. paraded to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to switch their party affiliation to independent.
At a news conference, the leaders announced the formation of "Movement to the Middle," which they hope to take national via social media.
"We are fiscally conservative and socially progressive, a position and a place where many of us reside but neither party is willing to visit," said Scott Dickey, chief executive officer of the Competitor Group, a media company that focuses on events for runners such as marathons.
Politicians need to be driven by a desire to achieve results, not satisfy party goals, he said.
"We are no longer willing to accept the partisan gamesmanship and the gridlock we see at all levels of our government," Dickey added.
"Can I not be an environmentalist and a Republican? Can I not support lower taxes and be a Democrat?" said Qualcomm Executive Vice President Peggy Johnson.
Dickey said the group of nearly 40 former Republicans, Democrats and some who were already independent want to take a more problem-solving approach to governance.
The group is following the lead of San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, an assemblyman who garnered national attention last month when he left the Republican Party. He said he was tired of the competition between the two major parties at the expense of the public good.
Dickey said Fletcher was the "inspiration and spark" behind the new "Movement to the Middle" organization. Thirteen business leaders gathered outside the County Registrar of Voters and all said they would support Fletcher in the upcoming election.
Dane Chapin, of Zephyr Partners, said the formation of Movement to the Middle was larger than just one politician or one issue.
"This is about a broad-based majority drawing a line in the sand and bringing common sense back to solving problems for shareholders of government -- we the people," Chapin said.
The group's primary goal is to send a message to political leaders that people are no longer willing to let "partisan games" keep real challenges from being addressed, the organizers said.
They've set up a website at movementtothemiddle.org. A list of supporters on the site include Ted Waitt, founder of Gateway Inc., basketball star Bill Walton and investor Ron Fowler.
A recent 10News scientific poll showed City Councilman Carl DeMaio as the frontrunner in the race. The poll shows he still leads Fletcher 28 percent to 26 percent. DeMaio said he isn't worried about this latest shift by local business leaders.
"These are a bunch of Nathan Fletcher's downtown insiders who have millions of dollars, who are backing his campaign for mayor, who are just participating in an election year stunt," said DeMaio.
If DeMaio is wrong and Fletcher wins, political analyst Dr. Carl Luna said San Diego could spark a nationwide move to the middle.
"If he can win as an independent in San Diego and build with more people supporting him, there may be a political movement in the offering," said Luna.
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