A California millionaire businessman who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 has filed to run for the U.S. Senate in seven states, including Hawaii.
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, 63, is one of eight Republican senatorial candidates in Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary election. Incumbent Sen. Mazie Hirono is the lone Democrat on the ballot.
De La Fuente also filed to run for Senate as a Republican in Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. He also sought the Republican nomination for the Senate in California, but lost in that state’s June 5 primary.
De La Fuente told Civil Beat he’s running in so many states because the country “is not going in the right direction.”
Voters “should hire somebody that can represent them the best,” De La Fuente said. “A good negotiator, a good business person, somebody that’s able to seize the opportunity and bring home the beef.”
The real estate developer said “anybody can run for any state.”
“It’s no different than hiring someone to run General Motors or somebody to run Microsoft or Apple,” he said. “You don’t say Apple has to be run by somebody in California or Apple has to be run by somebody in Hawaii, you hire the best CEO you can find.”
The U.S. Constitution states that a senator must be at least 30, have been a U.S. citizen for nine years and be a resident of the state they represent when they are elected.
But a candidate does not have to move into that state until the day before the general election, according to Colin Moore, director of the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center.
It’s not especially difficult to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate or House in Hawaii. A potential candidate must submit a petition signed by at least 25 registered voters. In addition, there’s a $75 filing fee, according to the state Office of Elections.
De La Fuente has run in many political races across the country in the past two years, sometimes as a Republican or Democrat, or as a member of his self-created American Delta Party.
In 2017, he sought the Republican nomination for mayor of New York City.
De La Fuente was born in San Diego but said his humble beginnings coming from a working-class family in Mexico City prepared him for his future business ventures in car dealerships, real estate and banking.
“I spent all my summers working,” he said. “When most kids would basically go to the beach or go surfing, I was working at the car wash.”
De La Fuente’s campaign website says he wants to “represent you in the Senate” and fight “the causes that affect us the most.”
De La Fuente said he supports stricter gun control policies that would provide more safety for the general public without violating the right to bear arms. He also supports same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
Despite unsuccessfully running for numerous political races in the past few years, De La Fuente sees himself as a superior candidate to Hirono.
“The first thing I need to do is convince (voters) that I’m better than the other seven Republican candidates, and assuming that I fill that task then I have to take on your Japanese senator, which the question is you love her, but can she really negotiate on Hawaii’s behalf or is she just going to rubber stamp the party she represents?” he said.
Moore said that although De La Fuente has the right to run in any state he wants, he does not think the millionaire stands a chance against local candidates.
“It seems to me that he’s trying to buy himself a seat in Congress,” Moore said. “I’m not exactly sure what game he’s playing.”
But De La Fuente said he loves Hawaii.
“I think I can do a better job negotiating, I can do a better of job representing the state and I can bring more jobs and opportunities than the current senator. Period,” De La Fuente said.
He also said he plans to run for president again in 2020 — as a Democrat.
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