California Cadillac dealer Rocky De La Fuente garnered a modicum of attention in 2016 for waging a quixotic U.S. presidential campaign, but this year, he has really taken the political bulls by the horns.
In 2018, De La Fuente has run, unsuccessfully, in seven Republican U.S. Senate primaries and the California and Washington open primaries. The GOP races he's contested have been in Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, Wyoming, Florida, Delaware and Rhode Island, where he posted his best result — capturing 12 percent of the vote.
The races were all legit. The U.S. Constitution specifies that senators only need to reside in the state they are seeking to represent at the time of the general election.
De La Fuente, who turns 64 this month, is a real estate developer and third-generation car dealer. He says that over the years, he has held as many as 28 franchises, spanning 24 brands. His remaining store is De La Fuente Cadillac in El Cajon, Calif., outside San Diego.
The Washington Post displayed De La Fuente's unusual underdog story at the top of its home page one day last week. He told The Post he was not deterred by the nine defeats.
"In 2020, he intends to seek the presidential nomination as a Republican," according to the newspaper. "He brushes away questions about any potential 2022 Senate runs. 'I plan to beat Trump.' "
When De La Fuente visited Automotive News' offices during the 2016 campaign, he told us he was largely inspired by his opposition to then-GOP candidate Donald Trump. He described himself as a conservative Democrat. He came across as gregarious, even a bit eccentric. But he waged a serious campaign centered on four issues: welcoming immigrants, creating more jobs, creating more city parks and aiding homeless people.