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When I talked to my family about the idea of running for Congress, I never knew that our race would become one of the most expensive in the country.  As of today, my campaign has seen the brunt of almost 4m spent against us—a number that I have trouble wrapping my head around.  

At the end of the day this is a huge challenge for my campaign, but it is not the big first obstacle I have overcome.

I was born the son of Mexican immigrants in French Camp, California. As a child I worked in the fields with my family, following the harvest across the San Joaquin Valley, switching from school to school. It wasn’t easy, especially since I did not speak English well until I was 12. But with the help of a federal government program for underprivileged children, I was able to graduate high school, earn a college degree, and a master’s degree.

After receiving my master’s degree, I moved back to the Valley with my wife Adela and began working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where I had the privilege of co-developing full-field digital mammography, which has over time saved thousands of women’s lives because it helps doctors to spot breast cancer earlier and more accurately. I also represented the Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy in nuclear non-proliferation discussions with Russia. (While I am campaigning, people sometimes ask me if I am prepared to work across the aisle and I can tell you that, after those non-proliferation discussions, I am very well prepared to work with others who have differing views.)

During my time at the Lab, I decided it was time to chase another dream. As a child, I told my father that I wanted to be an astronaut. I thought he would tell me it was a crazy idea, but instead, he sat me down at our kitchen table and told me that I could be anything I wanted to be with hard work, an education and determination. He was right about everything. You see, I applied to the Astronaut training program 11 times and 11 times I was rejected. But on my 12th try, I was accepted into the NASA training program, and flew on Shuttle Discovery in 2009 to the International Space Station.

As I look back on a journey that started in the fields but went to space, I know that it did take hard work, an education and determination to achieve my boyhood dream. But I also know that none of it would have been possible without the help of others.  

Throughout my life, I have been helped greatly by people who believed in me. It started with my father Salvador, who didn’t laugh when I told him I wanted to be an astronaut.  (In fact, he helped me write a plan.) I had teachers who cared enough to spend extra time with me because my English wasn’t perfect. I had Pell Grants to help me work my way through college. I had scientists who believed in my work ethic and asked me to be part of their team. Finally, I had commanders and NASA officials who believed in me enough to give me the opportunity to represent my country as an Astronaut.  

This campaign is no different and now I’m asking that you also believe in me.  I am working as hard as I can, so is every one on my campaign team. But I can’t fight back against the tide of GOP Attack money alone.  I need your help.

Jeff Denham, the American Action Network, and the NRCC have spent millions trying to paint me as someone who doesn’t understand the Valley’s issues.  For Jeff, politics is his life’s work and all that he has focused on for more than a decade, while the AAN and the NRCC will stoop as low as they need to get him re-elected.

This race is about more than career politicians using secret money to advance their agenda; it’s about making sure that stories like mine,  true American Dream stories aren’t just something we read about in history books

As you can see, a little help can go a long way, I ask you to believe in me once more and help level the money playing field by donating what you can to my campaign.

Donate HERE  if you can!

Originally posted to Jose Hernandez on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 02:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders, DK Poli, Barriers and Bridges, California politics, I Vote for Democrats, and J Town.

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