California Dem gets title of "astronaut" on ballot

California Democrat Jose Hernandez, running in California's 10th district. www.joseforcongress.com

First-time congressional candidate Jose Hernandez, a Democrat, will be able to list his profession as "astronaut" on California's June primary ballot, a California judge ruled Thursday.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly ruled in Hernandez's favor after a Republican-allied law firm filed a lawsuit arguing that Hernandez shouldn't be listed as an astronaut since it was no longer one of his "principal professions," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Hernandez flew on the shuttle Discovery for two weeks in 2009, and he left NASA in January 2011. State election laws dictate that a candidate's ballot designation must reflect his current profession or one held during the previous year. The judge ruled that the designation "astronaut/scientist/engineer" was appropriate, since Hernandez was on NASA's payroll in 2011.

Hernandez is running in California's 10th district against Rep. Jeff Denham. After the lawsuit challenging his ballot designation was filed, Hernandez's campaign released a one-minute video of footage of Hernandez in space. "Jose Hernandez is an astronaut," words on the screen read at the end of the video.

California Democratic Party said in a statement that the suit was "desperate" and "shameless."

"What is it about Mr. Hernandez's life story that the California GOP is so afraid of?" the statement said. "His story embodies the American Dream, having gone from picking crops in the fields of the Central Valley to being an astronaut aboard the shuttle Discovery."

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