Democratic Reps. Howard Berman (left) and Brad Sherman on Wednesday participated in a candidate forum hosted by ONEGeneration and the League of Women Voters, in Reseda, Calif. The two Democrats are vying to represent California’s 30th district after redistricting put the two former allies in the same district.
Last Tuesday, Berman spoke to a homeowners association meeting in the upscale neighborhood of Royal Woods — at a house next door to where singer Tina Turner lived until 1988, neighbors said. Berman said he’s been able to attend many of these small community gatherings since Congress recessed so Members could campaign ahead of the November elections. On this night, he spoke to a group that usually meets to discuss issues such as the coyotes that are threatening local pets.
About 30 neighbors came to listen to him speak in a living room decorated with “Berman for Congress” posters made by the hosts’ young daughters, including one who passed around her report from an interview she had conducted recently with Berman.
Berman said that there were fundamental differences in the way each incumbent views their role as a Congressman and that the outcome depends on which type voters want.
“I think my primary duty for the district I represent, and for the national issues and the international issues, is to work in Washington to try to make things better, and that’s how I define my job,” Berman said. “I don’t have combs to pass out ... but by and large, when you want me, I come.”
Helen and Milton Zerin, who have lived in that area for 53 years, said Berman needs to pay attention to the Valley and asked Roll Call to “put a bug in his ear” about that. “It’s a shame they have to run against each other,” Helen Zerin said, “because they’re both good men.”
Berman and Sherman have combined to spend more than $9 million through the end of September, according to third-quarter reports due Monday to the Federal Election Commission. Berman outraised Sherman by $500,000 in the third quarter, $730,000 to $231,000. However, Sherman started with a huge cash-on-hand advantage, and still had $1.8 million in the bank at the end of September to Berman's $395,000.
Getting their message out through paid media is key in this expansive district. However, Berman was off the airwaves for a month starting in mid-September. He said the campaign had the resources it needs and was getting set to go back up for the duration of the race.
Sherman landed on cable television in early September and also boasts the support of the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund, which spent more than $1 million for direct mail on his behalf.
While some Democrats in the state groan at all the money this race is soaking up, Sherman noted that this isn’t just a race for one more term in Congress.
“Let’s face it,” he said, “whoever wins this thing is in for the next 20 years.”