A businessman from San Diego says he’s collected 18,000 signatures to get on the ballot in North Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary.
Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente isn’t among the three better-known candidates submitted by the N.C. Democratic Party for the March ballot. So he’s trying a rarely attempted method of getting his name on the list: Submitting a petition with at least 10,000 signatures from registered North Carolina Democrats.
State Board of Elections officials must validate each signature, and as of Wednesday they’d checked 11,327 signatures and approved only 6,010 of them. De la Fuente announced this week that he’s gathered a total of 18,000.
De la Fuente’s campaign did not return a phone call seeking information about the petition drive.
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But Board of Elections records show the bulk of the signatures were from residents of Durham, Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Andria Krewson, a Charlotte journalist, tweeted that she encountered someone from the campaign at a DMV there.
De la Fuente has already used a similar petition process to get on the primary ballot in Michigan. Michigan requires about 12,000 signatures, and The Detroit News reported Tuesday that he’s the first candidate in state history to get on the ballot via petition. He says he’ll be on the ballot in a total of 17 states.
De la Fuente is well known in San Diego as a real estate developer, car dealer and banker. He describes himself as a “conservative Democrat” who supports a flat tax and immigration reform. Most of his campaign materials are in both English and Spanish.
Only one other candidate has submitted petitions to get on North Carolina’s primary ballot. Democrat Willie Wilson, a Chicago businessman and gospel musician, has so far obtained 75 valid signatures and has until Monday to reach 10,000.