DES MOINES – One of the longest running forums in the nation, designed to give a voice to minority groups is Monday night.
A national audience will be watching the Brown and Black Democratic Presidential Forum. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley will all be there.
But without an invite, a West Des Moines resident, and minority candidate, will miss out.
Rocky De La Fuente has been trying to get into the Brown and Black Democratic Presidential Forum since November, but he says he’s being ignored, and not being taken seriously.
Leaders of the Democratic Party say it’s best to focus on the front runners.
Rocky De La Fuente is working hard in his bid for the white house. Since October, he’s made it onto 20 primary ballots.
“I’m the first person in history to be in the Michigan ballot, that qualified by the people,” said De La Fuente. “I’m the first person in North Carolina to qualify by the people.”
Still, despite reaching out to the organizers, he hasn’t gotten an invitation to Monday night’s minority-focused forum.
“If you take a look, let’s look at the name, black and brown, I’m supposed to be brown,” said De La Fuente. “Well, they only invited three white folks, the same white folks that have been in all of the debates.”
Local 5 reached out to the organizers who are party independent, but we haven’t heard back. Some key members of the Democratic Party, including long-time state representative Ako Abdul-Samad agree with the decision to limit the invitations.
“We don’t want to be like the Republicans,” said Abdul-Samad. “We can’t have 50 people.”
De La Fuente says his recent breakthroughs onto the ballots should qualify him for the forum.
“I happen to qualify in Ohio, O’Malley did not,” he said.
But while O’Malley trails in some polls, party members believe he still has a strong chance to win.
“You have to have a cut off somewhere and so we have used people that are polling,” said Dr. Andy McGuire, Iowa Democratic Party Chair. “Amazingly enough, there are 60 or 70 people running for president.”
De La Fuente says he’s been facing long odds this whole election cycle. Now, all he wants is a chance to prove himself.
“It would be a beautiful opportunity to be able to say my position, let them know that I’m not upset, that I care, and let people know that I care and basically people will find out if I have a general knowledge, if I have culture if I have experience,” said De La Fuente.
The Republicans had a forum scheduled for late in 2015, but it was canceled.
The organizers of the forum were supposed to be on our midday show on Friday, but did not show up. And they have not returned our requests for comment on this story.