David Malcolm , co-chair of the Lincoln Club’s political action committee and one of the organization’s top donors, re-registered as a "decline to state" Friday.
Malcolm, a lifelong Republican, said he has been frustrated with partisan rhetoric on both sides of the aisle for a while. He said comments from Republican candidates in the Midwest during this campaign season referring to “legitimate rape” and describing rape as "God’s will," pushed him over the edge and away from his own party.
"The rhetoric … was absolutely unacceptable, appalling and offensive to me; so they lost me," Malcolm explained by phone Friday.
Locally, Malcolm said he’s also fed up with the divisiveness between the San Diego County Democratic Party and the San Diego County Republican Party.
"It’s become not about making things better, but about 'How can we fight and destroy the other side' meanwhile all our citizens are caught in the middle," the mortgage company executive said.
Malcolm, 58, said he still supports Republican positions like championing successful businesses and avoiding "class warfare."
As co-chair of the pro-business Lincoln Club’s top political machine, Malcolm engineered the endorsement of Chula Vista incumbent Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan, a labor-backed Democrat who won re-election, along with the endorsement of San Diego City Councilman Tony Young, also a Democrat.
The Lincoln Club is a 30-year-organization with about 350 members, including some of the wealthiest business leaders in the county. It plays a heavy and successful hand in San Diego politics, but backed fiscally conservative Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost the San Diego mayor’s race Tuesday.
Lincoln Club spokesman Tony Manolatos seemed unsurprised by Malcolm dropping his party preference Friday.
"The misconception is that we’re in lock step with the Republican Party when really that’s not the case," Manolatos said. "We’re not a conservative organization. What we are is an organization that puts the interest of taxpayers and small businesses first."
That taxpayer-first organization has spent nearly as much as the Republican Party in recent years, supporting mostly conservative candidates and ballot measures with a few exceptions.
Manolatos said the club mostly reaches out to Democrats and decline-to-state voters, as the Republican Party is limited in the audience they can reach.
To explain his re-registration Friday, Malcolm pointed to national trends of declining numbers in both parties, as well as local "movements to the middle," spearheaded by Nathan Fletcher, a state Assembly member who lost the San Diego mayoral race during the primaries. He also mentioned California’s top-two primary system, devised by his long-time friend Steve Peace. Peace has now taken aim weakening partisan politics at the campaign finance level.
"We’re tired of the bickering. We’re tired of the gridlock. We’re tired of the people taking a backseat and everyone being concerned about creating more little Democrats or more little Republicans," Malcolm said.
"Yes, some people will certainly be very upset," Malcolm said of his change in heart. "I just don’t like either of my choices anymore."