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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Astronaut Loses Race for House Seat

MODESTO, Calif. (CN) - Astronaut José Hernandez, the first person to Tweet in Spanish from a space shuttle, failed to oust incumbent Republican Jeff Denham from his U.S. House seat on Tuesday.

Hernandez's bid to represent the freshly redrawn 10th District crashed to Earth, as he took just 46 percent of the vote. Denham, R-Atwater, left his campaign headquarters just after midnight "feeling confident," according to KCRA-TV.

Hernandez, who spent 14 days aboard the space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station in 2009, said President Obama encouraged him to run for Congress during a meeting in 2011.

A native of Stockton, Hernandez ran a contentious campaign against the freshman Denham, who represents the 18th Congressional District moved to the new 10th District after new maps were released.

Neither candidate lives in the district, though Hernandez is building a home here after retiring from NASA. He, his wife and their five children moved into his parents' home after they left Houston in 2011.

Hernandez and Denham waged a rough campaign, with both accusing the other of carpet-bagging and fiscal impropriety. They also accused each other of being tax cheats-Denham for two tax liens against his businesses in 2003 and Hernandez for a 2010 IRS lien that apparently was paid just before his first campaign appearance in January this year.

Things came to a head in late October when Denham sued the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and several Sacramento TV stations in Federal Court. The ads, paid for by the DCCC, accused Denham of voting for HR 1255, to protect congressional pay in the event of a shutdown of the federal government.

Denham claimed in his lawsuit that the defendants made "maliciously false and defamatory statements and publications conveyed to the public that Jeff Denham protected his pay in the event of a government shutdown by voting for United States House of Representatives Resolution 1255 ... while members of the United States Military would not receive their pay."

An Air Force veteran, Denham said he voted to deny congressional pay in the event of a government shutdown, and for HR 1363, which funded the federal government and the Department of Defense "so that military pay and benefits would never lapse."

The first hearing on Denham's suit is scheduled for Nov. 26. Hernandez did not officially approve the ads and is not a party to the case.

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