Forward Thinking

Balding Jew Grabs Lead for L.A. Seat

By Nathan Guttman

The Berman-Sherman congressional race in California’s 30th district has been nothing but pure drama.

With millions of dollars pouring into the race, attack ads, and with the two Jewish Democrats, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman’s latest debate making headlines thanks to an unprecedented physical altercation, the entire nation is tuning in to see who will rule San Fernando Valley after November 6.

The Democratic establishment threw its support firmly behind Howard Berman, who has served in Congress since 1983 and in his latest position is the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs committee. Berman has the backing of both California Senators and most of the Democrats on the states congressional delegation. He even got to ride with the President when Obama came to town for a fundraiser.

But polls are beginning to show that support of top Dems might not be enough. Brad Sherman, sans party support but with an elaborate ground operation, is leading in all the latest polls. Last month, a local poll put Sheman way ahead with 45%, compared to 32% of the voters saying they will support Berman and 23% remaining undecided.

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Sh-Berman Heat Wave Grips La La Land

By Rex Weiner

getty images
Rep. Howard Berman poses for photo op with President Obama as he signs bill authorizing cooperation with Israel.

“Almost like in a boxing ring,” exclaimed a breathless local Fox News reporter.

“Sparks flew” gasped the L.A. Times, describing Thursday night’s debate between dueling Jewish congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. But the soporific chin wagging between the two liberal, pro-Israel, balding Democrats, who were tossed by redistricting into a fight for the San Fernando Valley’s new 30th District, didn’t measure up to the campaign’s increasingly hyper hype.

The Jewish Journal, which sponsored the debate, is trying valiantly to stoke reader interest in the race. But the truth is that no matter how many ways the moderators interrogated the candidates, neither Berman nor Sherman would confess to less than 100% commitment to the Jewish state or to any real substantive difference in position on most issues.

L.A. Observed columnist Bill Boyarsky expressed surprise that there was even a single move out of predictable, partisan lockstep. “Amazingly — actually unbelievably — Sherman bragged about his cooperation with Rep. Paul Ryan,” the newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate, Boyarsky noted. Apparently, with the two Dems in need of the Valley’s Independent and Republican votes for November’s general election contest, a little bi-partisan suck-up can’t hurt.

Nasty campaigning is all the rage this summer nationwide. And off the debate stage, the mid-August heat wave in California’s San Fernando Valley has lent a special punk edginess to Sherman-Berman contest.

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