Originally published at American Third Party Report:
Exclusive, follow-up interview for American Third Party Report with Nicholas Hensley (earlier today, the Reform Party announced Roque De La Fuente as its presidential nominee):
In early July Reform Party Secretary Nicholas Hensley sat down for an interview with American Third Party Report. At the time, the Reform Party was preparing for its 2016 convention in Bohemia, New York. Since the convention concluded, Mr. Hensley has agreed to answer several follow up questions by email.
Question: The Reform Party chose Roque de la Fuente as its presidential candidate. Can you tell us why that decision was made, and how it came to be?
Answer: Turn out for minor party conventions are motivated by two factors. The first factor is a competitive presidential nomination. Up until two or three weeks before the convention, we had two candidates. We were sure of the final outcome.
The second factor is internal contention over office elections, platform planks, and bylaws. We knew how those votes were going to fall, and no one wished to contest the likely outcomes. These factors created a foreseeable low turnout convention.
About two or three weeks before the election, in a three day time span, Roque de la Fuente and Darcy Richardson announced their intentions to run. I wish those announcements happened six months ago, so we had more time to vet the campaigns, and learn more about them.
Both of the candidates were formidable, and both had great things going for them. This means we had to weigh the pro’s and con’s of the four candidates. Look at numerous factors, and figure out which candidate was the best fit.
Darcy Richardson and Ken Cross were the two safe choices. Both of them were going to have little exposure, run on the pre-existing Reform Party lines, and circle the wagons. We knew them as people, and understood the risks surrounding them. These were two “defensive investments”.
Both Lynn Kahn and Roque de la Fuente came with more risk. They were both new to the Reform Party, but were qualifying on more ballots. This created a risk versus reward scenario, and we had to weigh those measures. Due to these unknown risks and rewards, specifically on Roque de la Fuente’s side, we needed more time for research.
Of course Roque de la Fuente won out. Roque and the Reform Party were in agreement on ninety percent of the platform issues. Roque had deeper pockets and better fundraising abilities. He had more exposure, and he was able to assemble over twenty ballot lines. He also had a campaign staff, and better organizational structure. All of these were factors in the decision.
Q: Where does the Reform Party go from here?
A: The Reform Party is hitting the campaign trail. The most important goal in any election is to talk to as many people as we can, and recruit more members. To do that, we need to quickly assemble ground teams to conduct outreach, and connect with voters at the grassroots level. We need to talk to as many people as we can, shake as many hands as we can, purchase advertising, engage local media, fundraise and distribute content. Our campaign is going to be basic retail politics 101.
Q: What does the Reform Party hope to accomplish in this election?
A: The primary goal of any presidential campaign is to win the Whitehouse. Realistically, if we cannot win, then we need to use the campaign to sure up the party. We need to use the campaign as a vehicle to spread the Reform Party message, engage with voters, and recruit new membership. Success for this campaign will hinge on how well it benefits the organization, and the long term impact on the party.
Q: Realistically how competitive will the Reform Party be against Trump and Hillary?
A: The Reform Party is one of only a few national parties that is recognized by the FEC, and eligible for matching funds. Theoretically, if we can get our fundraising network to produce, there is a chance we receive matching funds and that would open the door for a Reform Party victory. If we can get our matching funds back, the Reform Party could stand up to the Democrats and Republicans, so members please donate.
Q: Why should Americans vote for Roque de la Fuente?
A: Roque de la Fuente is a political newcomer. Unlike veteran politicians, he is not bought and paid for by the special interests. He is free to make up his own mind, and support reforms without worrying about being ousted by the moneyed interests that buy politicians their offices.
As a third party candidate, Roque de la Fuente understands that the electoral system is stacked against non-establishment contenders. With a seat at the table, Roque will champion reforms to open the ballot, champion campaign finance reform, end gerrymandering and stop the practices that stack elections towards the establishment. At the same time, he will take away the special privileges establishment politicians gave themselves.
As an entrepreneur he has succeeded through hard work and determination. He faced the challenges that many business owners face, and understands what it’s like to compete in the international market and the barriers that hinder competition. At the same time, his success taught him how to read the market and adapt to changes in the economic climate.
Roque de la Fuente will stand up to middle and working class Americans. Due to his years in business, he understands how trade deals and other factors have hindered the manufacturing base in American, and how to bring industrial jobs back to the United States from overseas. He understands that rebuilding America’s industry, and how bringing back higher paying industrial jobs, is the first step towards rebuilding wealth equality across the country.