From left: Sens. Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have endorsed California Rep. Howard Berman in his general election fight against fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman. Berman's position on the Iraq War may be the reason for the support.
Berman, the favorite among the California delegation, is at a severe geographic disadvantage against Sherman, who currently represents a little more than half of the electorate expected to vote in November. Berman represents about a quarter, meaning he needs to win over a significant share of voters who have been electing Sherman every two years for more than a decade.
"It is an incredibly complicated political equation," Carrick said.
The Senators' endorsements got big play in the district, landing above the fold on the front page of the second section of the Los Angeles Times. It was expected to echo on radio and television throughout the day.
"The question is will Sherman now use this as a new line of attack, somehow undercutting Berman's progressive credentials?" Democratic consultant Roy Behr asked.
Sherman consultant Parke Skelton was on the phone with Roll Call when he opened up his copy of the Times on Monday morning. "This is going into a mailing. Nice headline," Skelton said between laughter. "'Berman to Gain GOP Backing' - I love it."
Sherman finished 10 points ahead of Berman in the June primary.
"If you look at the primary results - and I'm sure their polling reflects this - if Howard is going to win and close that gap he has with Brad, he's going to have to have a pretty good shot in the arm with both Republican voters and also decline-to-state voters," Carrick said.
Republicans are expected to make up close to a quarter of the vote in November. GOP voters will find two candidates from the other party on the ballot when they enter the polls on Nov. 6, so it's impossible to tell who they will vote for or whether they will vote at all in that race. Democrats will make up about half of the vote, and independents and decline-to-state voters another quarter.
"This is a brand new system in California," Kapolczynski said, "and every competitive campaign is trying to figure out how to work within this new framework."