SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGET) – A father and son are running for the 21st Congressional District seat. Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a Republican, and Ricardo “Ricky” De La Fuente, a Democrat, hope to offer voters a different perspective in the race.
The 21st Congressional District includes Arvin to the south, parts of Bakersfield, Delano, Wasco, segments of Tulare and Kings Counties, and a sliver of Fresno County.
While the senior De La Fuente and his son technically are going up against each other, they say they entered the race to give voters an alternative to Republican candidate, former three-term Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford), and Democratic candidate incumbent Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno).
“The system is broken because all people in congress care about is getting re-elected,” said the senior De La Fuente.
“I think anybody can do a better job than the current elected officials,” said the son. “I want to get in because I feel like we want to deliver the results that our communities deserve. We need action, no more talk,” he continued.
“We need orgullo latino. We need orgulla latina,” the elder De La Fuente said in Spanish, translated in English to “Latinx pride.”
“We need to have role models for the Hispanic community. The 21st district is over 70 percent Hispanic. It’s amazing that there was not Republican candidate that’s Hispanic that’s running, or one Hispanic Democrat that’s running. Both sides — Republican or Democrat — there’s not one Hispanic. Man or woman. We need to have more representation.”
Father and son were born in San Diego, where they live today. The elder De La Fuente is a millionaire who earned his money in real estate development. He also owned of dozens of car dealerships throughout his career. His 30-year-old son is a self-described entrepreneur who works with his dad.
Politically, both have their eyes set on more than just the 21st district. The elder De La Fuente, who ran for U.S. Senate in nine states during the 2018 election, is running for president as a Republican and as an American Independent, not to be confused with no party preference. He has qualified for the ballot in 17 states, including California.
“I hope you vote for me for president,” De La Fuente said. “I would like to basically get as much votes as I can to show that we’re not united with trump. On the contrary, we need somebody with common decency, and somebody that has a little better personality.
Previously, the younger De La Fuente ran for Congress in several states, including Florida. This time around, he’s also running for a seat in Texas. Even so, both insist they care about the 21st. Both prioritized water as one of their top issues, and explained why they chose to run in the Central Valley.
“I was looking to see [which district] is the most competitive,” said the younger De La Fuente. “When I was looking at the 21st Congressional District, [I noticed] Congressional Candidates TJ Cox, David Valadao are neither Hispanic. So I thought someone needs to run.”
His dad shared a similar sentiment.
“I could run for any of the 53 congressional districts. But importantly, [in] the 21st, it’s shameful it does not have a Hispanic or Hispana (SIC) representative,” De La Fuente said.
As for whether they believe they can win, the elder De La Fuente acknowledged his son has a better chance than his father.
“I really feel the district is going to go Democrat,” the father said. “It’s going to basically to be Mr. Cox or my son…Elect my son. He’s Harvard-educated, he speaks 14 languages, 8 fluently. He would make a beautiful, beautiful congressman.”
De La Fuente’s son echoed his father’s supportive message.
“We need some young, rising leaders. And I think I can be that voice.”
A candidate does not need to live in the district to run. The constitution requires only a member of congress live in the state he or she represents.
The top two vote-getters in this race will advance to the general election this November.
Primary election day is march 3rd.