U.S. House candidate and former astronaut Jose Hernandez of California can use the ballot designation of "astronaut" in his congressional bid, a Sacramento judge has ruled.
The law firm of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk filed a lawsuit last week asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" on the ballot, arguing that he was no longer affiliated with NASA and thus violating state election laws.
"Hernandez' 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 said.
Hernandez, 49, flew into space aboard the shuttle Discovery in 2009 and subsequently left NASA in January 2011.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly ruled Thursday afternoon that the ballot designation of "astronaut" was appropriate. Connelly said Hernandez can keep the description because the Democratic candidate was on NASA's payroll in 2011.
Hernandez is running in California's 10th congressional district against Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, 44. After the lawsuit challenging his ballot designation was filed, his campaign released a video featuring footage of Hernandez in space with the title "Jose Hernandez IS an astronaut."
The Web ad has almost 6,000 YouTube hits as of Friday morning, a significant number for a video related to a House race.