By Arturo Castanares
California voters may have been a little confused on Election Day when they saw Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente on the ballot as a Republican candidate for President, and also saw Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente III on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for President, then again found Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente on the ballot as a presidential candidate under the American Independent Party.
These were not errors in the printing of the ballots, but instead, the story of a father and son with the same names running for president in the same election under different parties.
Roque de la Fuente II, known as Rocky, has been a San Diego area businessman for many years, and has garnered media headlines with multiple civil lawsuits over fights with the City of San Diego over land rights around his land in Otay Mesa.
The 65 year-old businessman has won and lost lawsuits, and eventually resolved cases with the City for millions of dollars. He has owned car dealerships, commercial developments, and over 20,000 acres of land throughout the US.
In 2016, Rocky II ran for President as a Democrat, appearing on the ballot in 30 state primaries, and received anywhere between a high of 14,439 votes in Pennsylvania to a low of one in Alaska. In total, de la Fuente received 67,457 votes, but earned no delegates. After the primaries, he ran in the General Election as an independent.
Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reports for the 2016 campaign show he spent just over $8 million of his own money after raising only $17,125 from donors.
In 2018, Rocky II ran for US Senate in nine states at the same time, including California, where he received 135,279 in the election where Senator Dianne Feinstein was re-elected to her sixth term.
This year, Rocky II is running for President again, but this time as a Republican, and also as an American Independent candidate, having qualified to appear on 14 state primary ballots, and he has loaned his campaign more than $10 million so far.
But the Rocky running for President as a Democrat is another person all together.
Rocky II’s namesake son, Roque de la Fuente III, also known as Rocky III, 36 years old, is running for President as a Democrat and has qualified to appear on eight state primary ballots. This is Rocky III’s first time as a candidate for elected office.
In California’s primary election on Super Tuesday, Rocky II received 2,919 votes as a Republican and 1,349 as an American Independent. Rocky III received just 391 votes as a Democrat.
Rocky II has said he is hoping to build a political dynasty like the Kennedy and Bush families, even if it takes him years to accomplish it. So far, he has spent millions of dollars in his efforts to establish a foundation for himself and his son to run for office.
And Rocky III isn’t the only one of Rocky’s sons running for office this year.
Ricardo de la Fuente, 30, was a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 21st District in the San Joaquin Valley just East of the Bay Area, and Rocky II was also a candidate for Congress in that same district as a Republican, although neither one of them has ever lived in that area. Federal law does not require candidates or even members of Congress to live in the district, only to live in the state at the time they are sworn-in.
Ricardo ended up in a distant third-place with 6,346 votes, while his dad came in last place with 1,736 votes.
Ricardo previously ran for Congress in a special election in 2017 to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Xavier Becerra when he was appointed California State Attorney General, after Kamala Harris vacated that seat when she was elected to the US Senate. Ricardo ended up in 17th place with only 331 votes in that race.
But Ricardo did much better in another race this year. He was one of two Democrats to challenge first-term incumbent Congressman Michael Cloud in the 27th District in Texas that includes Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico.
No, Ricardo de la Fuente doesn’t live there either.
On Super Tuesday, Ricardo captured 61.5% of the vote in the Democratic primary, and will face off against Congressman Cloud in the November General Election. If the race seems close he may benefit from major funding from Democratic leadership in Washington, D.C.
Rocky the father says he hopes his name on the ballot will help his sons win their campaigns. Maybe his time, money, and efforts will eventually pay off, although no political pundits thinks it will be in this election cycle.
One thing seems to be for sure: There may be a de al Fuente on the ballot, somewhere, for the foreseeable future.