Opinion: Why We Started Movement to the Middle

Opinion: Why We Started Movement to the Middle

On Wednesday, 39 CEOs, business owners, founders and executives of significant San Diego companies came together to announce a coalition of people who are tired of divisive politics and determined to give a voice to the many moderates who want compromise and problem-solving to replace the gamesmanship and gridlock at all levels of government.

Not surprisingly, we were immediately attacked by the leaders of both the San Diego County Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as two of the mayoral candidates. They are entitled to their opinion on the value of this coalition, but they’re not entitled to their own facts about who we are.

We’re happy to address these attacks with the facts.

One of the questions is whether this coalition is a Nathan Fletcher campaign “stunt” manufactured by his campaign manager, Tom Shepard. A bunch of successful entrepreneurs coming up with their own ideas and organizing a coalition isn’t exactly unprecedented, but I guess for some reason it’s hard to believe we could have done this on our own.

Well, let me make it very clear: We didn’t ask for their blessing or their help. Movement to the Middle has no financial, strategic or organizational support whatsoever from the Fletcher campaign.

This group came together organically, starting with discussions inspired by Nathan’s defection from the GOP. We recognized from our conversations with others in the community just how many of us there were and how formidable a force we could be if we joined together. In the true San Diego entrepreneurial spirit, we’re testing our hunch that there’s a market for a moderate, pragmatic political leadership.

One of the candidates dismissively referred to the Movement to the Middle founders as the “Downtown establishment,” displaying a curious lack of knowledge about the companies and people involved.

In truth, we’re the very people that every single mayoral candidate courts for financial support and lauds from the podium at events and speeches — entrepreneurs who have put capital and sweat equity behind ideas we believed in.

We’re the founders and leaders of some of San Diego’s most successful innovators, like Qualcomm, Life Technologies and Gateway as well as businesses of every size and type. We’re people who have been involved in the civic and community dialogue for many years and who revel in organizing around constructive ideas.

The incredible response we’ve received from all over the state makes it obvious we’ve tapped in to a well of discontent with politics as usual. The people who are invested in partisan dysfunction can continue to try to marginalize us and dismiss our ideas, but this sentiment is real. The rest are welcome to join us and thousands of their fellow political moderates at MovementToTheMiddle.org. If enough of us raise our voices and demand progress, they won’t be able to ignore us forever.

Dan Shea is the president and CEO of Donovan’s Steak and Chop House. Dane Chapin is a partner with Zephyr Partners. And Scott Dickey is the CEO of Competitor Group Inc.

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