News Column

Jose Hernandez's Astronaut Title Being Challeneged

March 26, 2012
Jose Hernandez

Jose Hernandez, a San Joaquin Valley congressional candidate, is being asked to nix his astronaut title on the June ballot.

Hernandez is going up against Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock.

According to the Fresno Bee, the lawsuit was filed Wednesday, March 21, in Sacramento County Superior Court by the firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk.

"Hernandez's attempted use of 'astronaut' violates the Election Code's unambiguous requirement that a candidate's ballot designation reflect one's current profession, vocation, or one held during the previous calendar year," the lawsuit states.

The firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" because Hernandez has left NASA, according to the Fresno Bee.

Hernadez's Twitter account Astro_Jose description reads: "Retired NASA Astronaut and native of Stockton. Running for U.S. Congress in California's 10th District. Devoted husband, loving father, and a proud Democrat."

Today, Hernandez addressed the lawsuit on his Facebook account: "Here's something I thought I'd never say: I have to go to court to defend calling myself an 'astronaut,'" he wrote.

Hernandez, in February, shared his story about being a farmworker turned astronaut at the annual United States Hispanic Leadership Institute conference in Chicago.

"First, know what you want to be in life. Second, know where you are in life, and how far is that goal. Third, draw a road map so that you know all of the steps to get there," Hernandez said in February. "Fourth, get yourself a good education, and fifth, that same work ethic you had in the campo (as a migrant farm worker), you apply to your books, and then apply that to college and your job."

Hernandez said it took him applying 12 times before he got accepted into NASA as part of the 2004 19th class of astronauts. He spent 14 days in space.

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"I consider myself so lucky that I was able to go from being a son of San Joaquin Valley migrant workers to an astronaut. It was my American Dream – and I won't let these right-wing Republicans take it from me," Hernandez wrote on his Facebook acount. "That's why I've directed my campaign and our attorneys to vigorously defeat these outrageous charges."

He said the lawsuit will cost $20,000 to defeat.

"I always thought the hardest part of being an astronaut would be the training. I didn't realize it was going to be proving it in court. We will defeat this if we can rally together," he said.

Source: (c) 2012. All rights reserved.

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