SIDNEY — Ohio voters who select a Democrat ballot in the upcoming primary election will have three choices for president and the third name is not that of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who withdrew his candidacy a few weeks ago.
O’Malley never applied to get on the Ohio ballot.
The familiar names of the Democrat candidates are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Hoping to give them a run for their money is Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente.
De La Fuente, 61, is a self-made businessman, a native and still resident of San Diego, California. Married and the father of five grown children, he earned his fortune by purchasing car dealership franchises, owning 27 at one time. He sold them to establish a real estate development business. He now owns commercial and residential properties in California, Ohio, Connecticut, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia. Along the way, he founded three banks.
He graduated magna cum laude (with highest honors) from Instituto Patria in Mexico, earning bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics. He then studied accounting and business administration at Anahuac University and the University of San Diego. Last month, he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from UNESCO, the Institute of Advanced Studies Foundation Le Franc and the Mexican Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, for being an outstanding international business ambassador.
“I cannot afford to have Mr. Trump have a hypothetical chance of getting to the ballot,” he said, when asked why he’s running for president. “I need to do the right thing for America. I want to pay it forward. I do not like what I see.”
De La Fuente talked with the Sidney Daily News recently by phone from California. He said he will campaign in Ohio in person prior to the March 15 election.
His website, www.rocky2016.com presents a platform as a series of questions concerning issues of foreign policy, resources, education, defense, economics, government operations and social issues, which he has labeled as “ministerial policy.” The “what if” questions indicate what De La Fuente would do, were he elected. He does not, however, post how he would accomplish the things the questions suggest.
“We have a lot of different things we need to fix in this country and we need to do them one at a time,” he said.
The questions are part of his discussion with voters, according to Kitty Kurth, a consultant and senior adviser to the De La Fuente campaign. She thinks that her candidate has not been invited to participate in televised debates because the Democratic National Committee has blocked him.
“I’ve worked on every presidential campaign since 1987,” she said. “I’m am sorry to report that we cannot even get our calls returned by the Democratic National Committee. Emails have gone unanswered. I think it’s because (De La Fuente) is Hispanic. It’s very disturbing to me. It seems short-sighted on the part of the DNC.”
Kurth said that with Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz energizing Hispanic voters, the Democrats will lose possible support that could come to a Democratic Hispanic candidate.
“He got in late, but he got in because he didn’t like the hate coming out of Trump’s mouth,” Kurth said. “He said, ‘I’m a successful businessman. I have as much to offer as Trump.’”
He may have more if political experience is an important requirement for the job. In 1992, he was the first Hispanic American to serve as an at-large delegate, a superdelegate for the state of California at a Democratic National Convention, which he did at the request of Willie Brown, who was Speaker of the California State Assembly at the time. His website features photos of him with Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush.
Brandon Plascencia, office manager of the campaign headquarters in San Diego, said that rather than purchase television advertising, the campaign is using social media to connect with voters.
“And we’re meeting on a one-by-one basis, going out with teams to community events,” he said.
On the website, De La Fuente has pledged to accomplish four things before he will accept a paycheck as the country’s leader:
“I won’t accept a paycheck until half of our homeless are off the streets, until we build 100 new city parks, until we generate 1 million new jobs. Building a wall has NEVER been the solution. I won’t accept a paycheck until we create a logical and smart immigration policy,” he promises. He has captioned his campaign, “We the People.”
De La Fuente brushes away any suggestion that he can’t win the nomination.
“Most people do not like Hillary,” he said. “Some people do not like the socialist ideas of Mr. Sanders. Some of them are mine, but I’m only going to apply the ones we can afford. This is a 50-mile race. Iowa is one mile. I’m a fighter. What’s important is who crosses the finish first.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.