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San Diego businessman and former presidential candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente could stun the political world on Tuesday with a surprising second-place showing in California’s crowded “Top Two” U.S. Senate primary.
In a recent Stanford University poll featuring the five leading candidates for the U.S. Senate, the 63-year-old De La Fuente — arguably the leading Republican candidate in the unwieldy 32-candidate field — surged ahead of state Sen. Kevin de León, (D-Los Angeles), for the right to face longtime U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in November.
The poll, conducted by Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, showed Feinstein — the epitome of a career politician — leading the field with 35 percent while De La Fuente, who has been locked in a tight battle with de León and a few other candidates for the coveted second spot on the November ballot, garnered an impressive 21 percent.
Only 9 percent of the 1,113 adults surveyed preferred de León, whose candidacy has failed to catch fire.
A prohibitive favorite to finish first in the June 5th primary, Feinstein will turn 85 on June 22, seventeen days after Tuesday’s primary.
De La Fuente’s unexpectedly strong showing in the Stanford poll has apparently unnerved some of the state’s political pundits, including Los Angeles Times columnist Mariel Garza, a jaded and unimaginative journalist who wrote a scathing denunciation of De La Fuente’s candidacy on Saturday without ever bothering to contact the candidate himself.
Among other things, the panicked Los Angeles Times writer accused the disarmingly charming and modest San Diego entrepreneur of trying to “buy himself an elected position” — an absolutely ludicrous charge given the fact that De La Fuente has spent less than $5,000 in his quest for the U.S. Senate, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Coming across as more of a partisan hack than an objective observer, the worried Garza even went so far as to urge Republicans not to vote for him, thereby virtually assuring that the U.S. Senate contest in November will be a strictly one-party affair featuring two establishment Democratic candidates, not unlike the Kamala Harris-Loretta Sanchez Senate race two years ago.
Apparently, the idea of a genuine outsider — one who also just happens to be a highly successful entrepreneur and self-made millionaire — seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate while potentially playing the role of a giant-slayer against an aging and tired 26-year Democratic incumbent is simply too difficult to fathom for some of California’s smug political class.
The Los Angeles Times, the country’s fourth most widely-read newspaper in an industry clearly on the decline, should be ashamed to publish such poorly conceived, small-minded and seemingly partisan drivel.
Political competition should be welcomed, not scorned.
Rocky De La Fuente’s candidacy would guarantee that California Republicans and independents, as well as millions of independent-minded Democrats, will have a real choice in November.