Reps. Brad Sherman (left) and Howard Berman appear headed for a bruising Democratic primary fight next year if there arent major changes made to a newly proposed California Congressional map.
In separate interviews with Roll Call, Berman and Sherman played down talk of a rift between them that arose from the last redistricting, but each indicated they are prepared for battle if the final lines do not change much.
“They’ve created a district that is absolutely perfect for me. ... I’m the West San Fernando Valley guy,” Sherman said. “Did you notice that they called this the West San Fernando Valley district?”
In an effort to remove incumbency as a factor in the redrawing of the lines, the 14-member commission did not number the districts — they named them based on their area. There is also an East San Fernando Valley district that is 50 percent Latino voting-age population.
One Democratic insider said it is not a foregone conclusion that Berman could not win there. The lines have not been cemented yet, so it could be drawn to become even more inviting for Berman.
But Berman maintained he will run in the district where his house is, and that is currently the western valley district.
“I certainly have no desire to have this fight. But it is not up to me, it’s up to the commission,” Berman said. “I will run where I live.”
Sherman has a stronger war chest and more current constituents in the proposed district, but Berman has proved over the years that he can fundraise quickly and has strong ties within the Democratic Party in LA and statewide. Berman is also close with Waxman and may be able to count on his support in the still-hypothetical race.
Because of the way the new district is drawn, however, one insider said Sherman could be the benefactor. “I think there are advantages for him that could neutralize Howard’s otherwise tremendous advantages,” the Democrat said.
In Long Beach, Democratic insiders are watching closely to see where everyone decides to run. Sánchez’s horseshoe-shaped district has been carved up, and it is still unclear where she will end up.
It could depend on whether Rep. Grace Napolitano (D), who would be in a heavily Latino district just north of the Long Beach district, runs again. She will be 75 by Election Day, and insiders said she is a candidate for retirement.
Another incumbent who appears to be stuck is Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D), who was drawn into a district with Rep. Xavier Becerra (D), a longtime ally whom insiders say she is unlikely to run against.
Richardson could run in a new district to the west of Long Beach that includes Gardena, Compton and Carson.
In an interview with Roll Call, Richardson said the first draft splits her district almost equally in two, with about 57 percent in Long Beach and 42 percent in the district to the west. Her hope is that in the next few weeks her constituents will weigh in and the commission will decide to keep her district intact so she can continue working on issues that face the whole area.
“So far it’s very positive on my end because either way it would be almost equal,” Richardson said. “Either way, having almost 50 percent is very positive. I’m going to hope for a little bit more so we can continue the work that we’re doing.”