California Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman (left) and Howard Berman appear to be preparing to run in the same Democratic-leaning West San Fernando Valley district.
When two Members face off in the same district, the result is something like a House race on steroids.
Ask a Capitol Hill veteran, and he or she probably remembers something from the top battles between Members of 2002. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) against then-Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) versus then-Rep. George Gekas (R-Pa.) were just two.
During the last redistricting cycle 10 years ago, 16 Members faced a colleague: Eight each in primaries and general elections. With nine Congressional maps signed into law, the 2012 cycle is on track to showcase even more Members facing each other than a decade ago. That’s in no small part due to an independent redistricting commission in California, which is overhauling a Congressional map that features 53 incumbents.
Obviously, much can still change between now and November 2012. For example, California and Pennsylvania are far from finalizing their maps, and Louisiana’s new House districts must be approved by the Justice Department. But even so, several Members are already gearing up to face off against a colleague next year.
Here is our take on the five most contentious races between Members on tap for 2012.
Rep. Howard Berman (D) 15th term (70 percent) Current district: Part of the San Fernando Valley Cash on Hand (as of March 31): $1.1 million
vs. Rep. Brad Sherman (D) 8th term (65 percent) Current district: Part of the San Fernando Valley; part of Burbank Cash on Hand (as of March 31): $3.1 million
Call it a battle between man — er, men. The expected primary between Democrats Berman and Sherman in Southern California will be one for the ages. The independent California redistricting commission has proposed a single, Democratic-leaning West San Fernando Valley district — the home base area for both Berman and Sherman. And both appear to be gearing up to run there.
The two Democrats have had a tense relationship in the past as a result of the last round of redistricting, although it’s thawed significantly in recent years. A primary between Sherman and Berman would almost certainly revive those tensions and set up the premiere intra-party race of the cycle.
Democrats warn that the commission has only released its first draft and stress they are expected to heavily revise their plan for the Southern California region before the final map is released at the end of the summer.
In the meantime, Berman and Sherman have said they will run in the same district. Both Democrats released their statements declaring their intentions just a couple of hours after the maps were released.