As a 2016 candidate for president, Rocky De La Fuente calls himself as a “conservative democrat” and a pro-business alternative to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

The race for president is coming to Alaska. The democratic primary caucus is on Saturday (03-26-16). And while frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders marshal support in Seattle, a lesser known national candidate – Rocky De La Fuente – has come to Alaska.

Downloadable audio.

Sixty-one year old Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente is the most determined democratic candidate you’ve never heard of. The Mexican-American businessman filed his candidacy on October 1st, months after Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But it was another candidate who sparked his campaign.

“When Mr. Trump called everyone every name in the book. I was expecting to have a worldwide contra reaction. I was expecting the President of the United States, the president of Mexico, or the President of Argentina. There wasn’t one single person that said A, B, or C,” De La Fuente explained. “So the question is, I said, ‘Somebody has to stand to that man.’


Though De La Fuente has picked up zero delegates, he seems undeterred. His campaign was sparked by the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Donald Trump (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Trump’s affront on the Latin-American community inspired De La Fuente. But the two men are similar in a few ways: both are wealthy businessmen with no political experience who want to shake up the establishment and appeal to working-class Americans. But De La Fuente’s base is very different. He advocates for immigrants and the homeless.

De La Fuente was caucusing in Arizona recently and met a young girl named Renata, who started crying. “She says, ‘I won’t be able to see my grandfather.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ She said, ‘Somebody’s building a wall.’

Immigration reform and naturalizing illegal immigrants is at the top of his priority list. “We have 11 million people in this country that do not have their papers. I consider those 11 million people assets. I don’t consider them liabilities. They’re here. I didn’t bring them here. But if we’re going to grow this country and we’re going to generate 34 million jobs, I need those 11 million here. I need them working. I need them legal. And I need them to pay taxes.”

De La Fuente is pro-gun and supports the Affordable Care Act, but thinks it needs to be change. He endorses gay marriage and abortion, but thinks states should have the right to choose. He’s an unusual blend of stances. And he thinks it’s enough for him to be an alternative to front runner Hillary Clinton.

On Clinton, De La Fuente said, “The lady thinks she’s queen. She thinks she deserves everything. And she does not. This is a democracy. This is not a dynasty. Do we have to elect the wife of a president?”

De La Fuente has picked up zero delegates, but as far as fringe candidates go, he’s doing okay. He appeared on more state ballots than former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who withdrew after a poor showing in Iowa.

To his disappointment, though, he will not appear on the ballot in Washington this weekend. “Even though I qualified for 44 states and all the caucusing states, in Seattle they put me as ‘other.’ The democratic party has told me, ‘Washington, you cannot vote for this man because he does not exist.’

So, he came to Alaska, which he’s visited numerous times on cruise ships. For a state large in size, there are few delegates up for grabs – just 20. De La Fuente will need at least 15% of the caucus to pick up any. This will be difficult given the foothold of Clinton and Sanders in Alaska. Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders’s wife, visited Alaska last week.

KCAW asked De La Fuente why he keeps with the race, given the odds. He said, “It’s a 56 kilometer race. So you cannot judge a race just because somebody is leading the first 10 kilometers or the first 20 kilometers. The question is, “Who is going to cross that finish line?”


A screenshot from the mobile game, “Rocky Run,” which allows players to race horse avatars De La Fuente against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

De La Fuente’s campaign – which is entirely grassroots – even developed a game called “Rocky Run.” Available on iPhone and Android, De La Fuente is a horse you can pit against horses “Hillary Pigton” and “Don Bulltromp.” With the brush of a finger, you can jump over obstacles.

(Sounds of game)

And his eyes light up when he mentions that the Democratic National Convention will be in Philadelphia. Because as you may have noticed, he shares a name with another underdog, Rocky Balboa.

All my life, I’ve been an underdog. All my life, I’m a minority. We have two type of people: we have the hard-working people that work and we have the government that’s trying to do everything they can to stop us. Imagine if  we can all be working with the same objective. And let’s make America ten times greater than what it is today.

De La Fuente will be in Sitka for the caucus, where he hopes to win over minds and maybe, some votes.