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A candidate who is out of orbit with a conservative Valley
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Months ago, a Facebook friend of mine bragged that her husband - a local junior high teacher - snagged an exceptional speaker for a schoolwide assembly. The speaker was a retired astronaut and she was ogling over it. My friend sat in on Jose Hernandez's talk and felt it was inspirational as he explained to students his story of coming up from the son of a field worker to becoming an astronaut.

I guess I rained on her parade when I suggested to my friend - a Republican - that she might want to check his politics. The timing was suspect since he is running for Congress in the 10th congressional district.

Later I'd learn that Hernandez made an election-year press to talk to many schools in capitalizing on the astronaut angle. In fact, he uses an old NASA space suit photo on his campaign website photo and his campaign signs use a logo that resembles a space shuttle aimed skyward. I heard his presentation at Blaker Kinser Junior High and I know he appeared at Hidahl Elementary.

I was kind of surprised that as Hernandez walked into the Blaker Kinser gym, he was accompanied by many of the district upper echelon of superintendent and assistant superintendents. Granted, being a former astronaut gives one clout but keep in mind that astronauts are not as big a deal as they were back in the days of Apollo. Few Americans know who the astronauts of today are for there are 64 currently in place and America has had a total of 552 astronauts in space.

I would never discount that Hernandez has a great story of rising from a field worker to astronaut, and that his story can inspire kids to do their best in school and shoot for the stars. But let's be honest; his school assemblies had an ulterior motive: introducing himself to a captive audience of teenagers who just might go home and tell their parents about him and, oh, my gosh you mean he's the same guy running for Congress against Jeff Denham?

Voters must separate the astronaut from the congressional candidate. Ex-astronaut Hernandez has an inspiring story. It's riveting to hear him speak about being strapped to the back of a giant Roman candle and blasting off into space in 2009. Who wouldn't be inspired to know that it took him 11 attempts to become an astronaut candidate in 2004 and actually go into space? And we are grateful to him for helping to develop the first full-field digital mammography imaging system to aid in the early detection of breast cancer in his employment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. But a good astronaut and good engineer does not make for a great political candidate.

Hernandez - who was asked by President Obama to run for Congress - is simply out of touch with his conservative Valley district.

I attended the April debate involving Denham, Hernandez and Chad Condit and others, before the Latino Community Roundtable. To me it sounded as though Hernandez is willing to give the store to the Latino constituency. Not surprisingly he is attracting lots of Latino voters.

Unfortunately, Hernandez being in Congress would only hurt Latino families because as a progressive he would give more of the same big government and big government costs through higher taxes.

Herandez is opposed to Bush-era tax cuts which stimulated the economy.

Hernandez supports government-run health-care and its tax burden that ObamaCare will impose on Americans if it's not repealed by President Romney.

Hernandez supports the state Proposition 30, a ballot measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown to increase income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 and raise the sales tax rate by a quarter-cent for everyone.

Hernandez advocates a federal version of the Dream Act which extends college financial assistance to students in the country illegally. The $6.2 billion cost associated with a federal Dream Act would have to be absorbed by state and local governments already struggling to close budget shortfalls. Since enrollment and funding are limited at public institutions, the act's passage will require some combination of tuition increases, tax increases to expand enrollment, or a reduction in spaces available for American citizens at these schools.

And while most Latinos probably would like it, Hernandez has a radical attitude against enforcing U.S. immigration law. Hernandez was asked his feelings about the Secure Communities program. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody with the FBI to see if they have a criminal record. Under Secure Communities, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security to check against its immigration databases. If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully in the United States or otherwise removable due to a criminal conviction, ICE takes enforcement action. Since implementation in 2008, Secure Communities has removed more than 142,000 criminal aliens. Hernandez, the son of a legal Mexican immigrant, however, opposes the Secure Communities program. Denham, on the other hand, said there is nothing wrong with all levels of law enforcement collaborating to enforce law. Denham stated: "If there are people breaking the laws, we have no boundaries between state, local and federal jurisdictions."

Hernandez said a voucher system for Medicare and privatization won't work.

Hernandez supports gay marriage.

Forget that he missed voting in the 2000 presidential election and failed to vote in the past 13 votes in Texas where he had been living. As far as his politics goes, Hernandez - who claims to be a "citizen-politician in step with the Valley" is out of orbit with the 10th Congressional District.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at