Latino Democrat candidate sued over “astronaut” label
José Hernández, a Democratic congressional candidate, is a former astronaut. But some believe that’s unfair for him to include on the ballot. (Facebook.com/joseforcongress)
Space travel has become a controversial political issue for people other than Newt Gingrich.
Lawyers are suing California congressional candidate José Hernández, a former space shuttle astronaut, to bar him from including the detail as part of his professional biography on the June primary ballot. Here’s more from the Fresno Bee:
WASHINGTON — San Joaquin Valley congressional candidate Jose Hernandez flew in space, but his astronaut identity is now under political fire.
In a pointed new challenge, a Sacramento law firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an “astronaut/scientist/engineer” on the June ballot. The lawsuit notes Hernandez has left NASA.
“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.
“In the same disclosure to Congress, [Hernandez] reported that he received no income from NASA in 2011,” the lawsuit states, adding that “astronaut is not a title one carries for life.”
Hernández, who flew on a 2009 Discovery space shuttle mission to the International Space Station, is running in California’s newly-created 10th congressional district and will likely face freshman Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.
“I launched into space and earned the title astronaut. Now, Republicans are trying to take that away,” Hernández tweeted on Monday.
The Bee reported that Denham’s campaign is not officially affiliated with the suit, but that the lawyers involved had previously done work for the congressman’s campaign committee and have strong ties to the California GOP:
Attorney Charles Bell Jr., one of two lawyers named on the lawsuit, is general counsel to the California Republican Party. The other attorney listed on the lawsuit, Brian Hildreth, has worked for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. The attorneys could not be reached for comment late Friday.
The lawsuit cites considerable research into Hernandez’s background, akin to that compiled during the course of political campaigns.