San Diego businessman sues to be presidential candidate in N.M.
06 May

San Diego businessman sues to be presidential candidate in N.M.

A San Diego businessman making a long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking to get on the New Mexico ballot.
Roque “Rocky” de La Fuente Guerra asked the U.S. District Court to prevent New Mexico Secretary of State Brad Winter from printing ballots for the June 7 Democratic Party primary until Winter produces evidence to support his determination that Guerra failed to collect enough signatures to qualify as a candidate.
Guerra, 61, describes himself as a “United States entrepreneur” who was born in California to Mexican parents and made a fortune in automobile sales and real estate development. He has been described as a “Mexican Donald Trump,” but he said in a phone interview Friday that he would prefer to be known as “The American with a Hispanic background that has more manners than Trump.”
Mostly through hiring help in collecting petition signatures, Guerra has qualified to have his name placed on ballots for the Democratic presidential nomination in 40 states and six territories, according to politico.com, which also reported he has drawn few votes where elections or caucuses have already been held.
New Mexico Secretary of State spokesman Ken Ortiz did not respond to a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Guerra said he is seeking the nomination because “America is dying for someone to have common sense in Washington, someone that has a business mind, someone who has ethics, someone they can look at in the face and find out he’s not a crook.”
He added, “If I had seen some good quality candidates, I would have stayed home.”
His lawsuit says Guerra needed 15,000 valid signatures — including a certain number from each of the state’s three congressional districts — to qualify for a ballot slot in New Mexico.
Guerra claims he submitted petitions bearing the signatures of 32,000 New Mexico residents to the Secretary of State’s Office on March 4. But, his complaint says, he was informed March 28 that the Secretary of State’s Office had processed 10,760 of the 12,940 signatures he gathered in the 1st Congressional District and found only 2,901 of them valid. The lawsuit says election officials determined that “even if the remaining 2,180 signatures that were not processed were accepted” he would not have the required 5,644 signatures from that district to qualify as a candidate in the June 7 primary.
Guerra said in a phone interview Friday he believes he did provide enough valid signatures to join former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic presidential ballot in New Mexico.
“We believe he is biased, he is wrong and he’s ignoring the constitution,” Guerra said of Winter. “Now I have no option but to file the lawsuit asking the federal courts to find him in violation of the constitution and put me on the ballot so the people in the state of New Mexico have three options, Hillary Clinton, Mr. Sanders and myself.”
Guerra said he never got an explanation for why so many of his signatures were disqualified.
“I think [Winter] committed fraud,” Guerra said. “Because the same people that got me the petitions in New Mexico got them for me in other states and managed to qualify me. They did a beautiful job.”
Guerra says in his lawsuit that he spent $350,000 to have the signatures collected. In all, he said, he has spent about $6.5 million on gathering signatures to have his name placed on the ballot for Democratic primaries nationwide.
According to politico.com, in most states and territories that have held primaries or caucuses in which his name was on the ballot, Guerra has received only fractions of 1 percent of the vote. But he said, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
Anything could happen to Clinton or Sanders between now and the Democratic National Convention in late July, Guerra said, and “all of a sudden the Democratic Party would need a leader.”
Not to mention, Guerra said, if he didn’t get the Democratic nomination, he could do what Trump had threatened to do if the Republican Party didn’t “treat him right” and run as an independent candidate.
If he was to become president, Guerra said, he would not collect a paycheck until he got 50 percent of all homeless people off the streets, generated 4 million jobs a year, created 100 new public parks and developed a “smart and fair” immigration policy.
Contact Phaedra Haywood at 505-986-3068 or phaywood@sfnewmexican.com.

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