Berman v. Sherman: Politics v. politics in CD 30


[See updates below]

It’s tough to improve on the capsule summary of the race between Howard Berman and Brad Sherman in California’s 30th Congressional District offered up by our friend Gene Maddaus at the LA Weekly: A battle “to determine which bald, Jewish Democrat who voted for the Iraq War will continue to represent the San Fernando Valley.”

Which helps explain why the Jewish Journal, the largest landsman weekly in the U.S. outside of New York, has labeled Jonah Lowenfeld’s smart blog on the race “Berman v. Sherman: Two Jews, One District.”

As Danielle Berrin, who writes JJ’s “Hollywood Jew” blog, put it: “It’s a lose-lose for Jews. We have two and now we’re going to have one.”

For the rest of California, the race in the new 30th CD – which is 49% Democrat, 26% Republican and 21% decline-to-state – means the loss of one liberal (on most issues) member of the House with considerable seniority. Both Democrats are likely to make it to the November run-off election under the new top-two system, which would kick the real campaign down the road several months.

There are clear differences, between the two congressmen: Berman is a member of Adat Ari El and Sherman attends Valley Beth Shalom. (Both are Conservative congregations, btw.)

Shame on us: Actually, that’s not fair to either of them (and we criticize ourselves severely for our utter lack of menschlichkeit). Berman, 70, has more hair, served eight years in the California Assembly and is a 30-year veteran in Congress. Sherman, 57, genetically a CPA, served on the Board of Equalization five years and has been in the House 16 years.

More important, Berman, “one of the most creative members of the House and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics” according to the Almanac of American Politics, is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, having served as chairman when the Democrats controlled Congress. He’s endorsed by  Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and 22! members of Congress from California, has former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “unofficial” support and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing a fund-raiser for him in D.C.

He’s the darling of the entertainment industry in Hollywood (which, in L.A., means jobs, not cultural elitism) and a genuine macher in Washington.

With his brother Michael, of the Berman & D’Agostino campaign consulting firm, Howard has been a fixture in California Democratic Party politics for decades. As Big Dan Walters wrote:  “In 1980, Berman, then a state assemblyman, tried to oust fellow Democrat Leo McCarthy, who had become speaker six years earlier. That led to a year-long conflict that eventually ended in a draw. Willie Brown — whom McCarthy had defeated for speaker in 1974 — succeeded his old rival, elected over Berman by McCarthy Democrats and Republicans.”

Divided labor support: Berman has the support of the Service Employees International Union and a couple other entertainment-industry unions, along with a few super PACs, which may (it remains to be seen) spend heavily in the district. But Berman hasn’t had to run a competitive race in decades and has spent a lot more time working Washington than his home base – a challenge made worse by reapportionment because he’s not the incumbent for about three-fourths of the new district.

He’s going to have to convince voters that he got the extension of the 405 freeway declared a project of national significance so that the $130 million project could be accelerated by 10 years; that he kept Kaiser Permanente from closing its 300-bed hospital after the Northridge earthquake; and that he was the guy who transformed the Hansen Dam into a family recreation area from a gang-infested hot spot. Likely, nobody in the district has any idea about any of that.

Sherman, meanwhile, has held lots of town hall meetings, puts out lots of statements on the issues of the day and introduces lots of bills that have gone nowhere. But he claims to have been instrumental in getting funding for part of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains and working to get federal study funds for the Caltrans $4.7 million 101/405 interchange improvement. You want a ribbon cut or a congressman at your Rotary Club event or your Lavender Garden Club, Brad’s your guy.

Attacking evil superPACS: Hoping to turn Berman’s strength into a weakness, Sherman with obvious guidance from campaign pro Parke Skelton, is trying to make an issue of the evil super PACS by challenging Berman to refund whatever money they spend on his behalf to the U.S. Treasury. (Good luck with that, Brad.)

Sherman, who is endorsed by Bill Clinton (a Hillary debt, no doubt) and Michael Dukakis (for whom he campaigned), has only a couple of Congressional supporters, the United Steelworkers and six other unions and, significantly, the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley – which is not the actual California Democratic Party but which sounds like it is.

Sherman is the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and he is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. But despite what he says about himself, he’s not regarded as a serious player in Congress. He’s a constituent guy.

Rock star v. schmo? “This is not a clash of two titans,” said one Hollywood Democrat. “It’s a superstar congressman versus a schlemiel.” It would probably be unkind to describe Sherman as gum on the bottom of your shoe. But not really.

Sherman has tried to make an issue out of Berman’s support for the Iraq war but since he voted for the resolution himself – “grudgingly” he now says – it’s a tough sell. He’s also tried to make an issue of Berman support for TARP and NAFTA, both of which he opposed.

Berman and the super PACS supporting him, have yet to go negative on Sherman, but smart betting says they will argue that he’s a feckless member of Congress who has never accomplished anything of significance and whose greatest virtue is being there.

Veteran Westside LA Congressman Henry Waxman tried to convince Sherman to run in a new Ventura County district instead of the new San Fernando Valley district, arguing that while it’s not as pure a Democratic base, that Sherman could win it. “If we have this race between two Jewish Democrats, it is not because of Howard, it is because Brad chooses it,” Waxman told our old friend Bill Boyarsky. Sherman didn’t bite.

Instead he released a poll he’d commissioned from the Feldman Group, purporting to show that Sherman leads with 42%, followed by 26% for Republican businessman Mark Reed and with Berman at 17%. In the absence of any credible, neutral polling, those are the only numbers floating around, whether they’re paid-for or not.

Hollywood’s go-to guy: At the end of September, Sherman had $3.7 million in the bank and Berman had $2.3 million. But that was before Berman’s $1.6 million fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton in November, after a pitch from Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, who wrote:

Howard has been a champion of the entertainment industry since he was first elected to Congress in 1983. As a lead member of the Judiciary Committee, he plays a key role in shaping the copyright, trademark and patent laws that are so vital to our industry. And as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he has fought to strengthen aid to Israel, continue U.S. foreign assistance on global HIV/AIDS programs, and improve America’s diplomatic standing in the world.

Said event co-chair Gov. Brown at the fund-raiser: “I’ve been watching politicians for a long time, and Howard’s really one of the few people that is not fluff, that is not manipulation. What you see is what you get.”

Sherman’s attack on Berman for supporting the War in Iraq works only if Sherman can convince voters to consider his intentions, not his own actual vote.

As young Jonah Lowenfeld of the Jewish Journal wrote – after having correctly reported that “On more than one occasion, Sherman attacked Berman for supporting a bill that he himself had also voted for” – Team Brad is hot to keep the issue alive.

As Sherman pointed out at the debate (and as his campaign manager, Parke Skelton clarified in a subsequent email), Sherman supported the war resolution only grudgingly, and only after attempting to limit the mandate for war given to President George W. Bush. He introduced one amendment and supported another that would have had that effect. It appears that neither the Davis amendment nor the Sherman amendment made it out of committee—Berman voted against both of them. Ultimately, Sherman voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the Iraq war, a move he characterized at the debate as a mistake.

So, Sherman couldn’t get his own amendment out of committee – surprise! – so he voted for the measure anyway. This proves his support was grudging? Or just chicken-livered opportunism?

Berman summarized Sherman’s stand on the Iraq War at a recent forum: “I was against it before I was for it before I was against it.”

Support for Israel not in doubt: No matter who wins, the Israel lobby in Washington will have a staunch ally: both congressmen are about as pro-Israel as anyone in the House although Berman is widely regarded by supporters of the Jewish state as the more serious player in international relations and foreign aid issues.

With the top-two primary system in place this year, the first round of voting in June is no longer the end-all-be-all that it once was in a strongly Democratic district – not when there are two well-funded Democrats in the race.

Sherman appears to be gunning from the start for an early win. And given that he has represented more of the district in the past, he just might come in first in June. But that could be a trap, too.

If Sherman runs as a flame-throwing liberal — as the old rules of primary politics would dictate – he runs the risk of cutting himself off from the middle, among moderate Democrats, independents and liberal Republicans who could be crucial in a November runoff against Berman.

Campaign jiu-jitsu: All Berman has to do in that scenario is come in second in June and then, with support from his Latino friends (Latinos comprise 16% of the new district’s voting age population) and Gov. Brown (who won 57% in 2010 in the new district’s precincts), holding back his best stuff for himself and against Sherman until September or October.

Funding shouldn’t be an issue for either of them, although at the pace he’s raising cash, Berman is likely to have an advantage in the fall. And though some have estimated $10 million might get spent in this race, it’s still too expensive to advertise on broadcast TV in a congressional race. That leaves targeted cable TV, mail and the internet as the key communication tools, along with ground troops.

Sherman will try to keep the race about local, schmokel, small-p politics: who’s available for your nephew’s bar mitzvah, who’s got the Humane Society award, who gives the best town hall meeting? As one Democratic consultant put it: “Brad wants to make the race about who’s a better hack.” And if that’s the race, Sherman could win.

Berman will want to elevate the race to capital-p Politics: who’s the best advocate for the district in Congress, the most significant player in Washington, the strongest proponent for hundreds of thousands of middle-class, below-the-line, behind-the-camera Hollywood jobs?

Who defines the race, wins the seat.

UPDATE: At a district meeting over this past weekend, Sherman won more than 50% of the votes for a California Democratic Party endorsement, but not the 70% needed for a consent-calendar endorsement at the state party convention in February. So the endorsement will be taken up at a caucus at the state party convention.

UPDATE UPDATE: Sherman came in first in the June 5 primary with 35,114 votes or 42.2% and Berman ran second with 26,957 or 32.5%. Other candidates drew 20,805 votes, including Republican Mark Reed with 10,403 or 12.6%. Whichever Democrat — Sherman or Berman — can pull those votes in November has the best shot at winning the 30th CD seat.

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There are 105 comments for this post

  1. avatar LADem says:

    Went to the CA Dem pre-endorsement meeting yesterday for the 30th CD. The LA City Dem party leadership came to watch this pre-endorsement meeting. It was a packed room. Berman won the coin toss and spoke to the audience first. Berman never quite connected. He spoke too softly, seemed a bit confused and then his comments almost had to be ended by the chair of the meeting because he went over the time limit. He looked uncomfortable as he spoke to a capacity crowd of SFV Dems sitting in the room. Had the impression that Berman hadn’t been in that room in the district or seen those faces very often. It was a surprisingly poor performance given Berman’s reputation. Sherman’s presentation came across with strength and focus. He was clearly in his element and seemed to have a personal connection with many of the Dems in the room. He didn’t look like a nerd or sound like a nerd. He seemed comfortable with the crowd. All those town hall meetings in the 30th must be giving Sherman plenty of practice connecting with district voters. The room went to Sherman yesterday. The room voted for Sherman at over 60% even when the word buzzing in the hallway was that Berman had called in favors from every friend he had for the pre-endorsement process. Don’t know what happened to Berman’s support in the hallway, but it just didn’t show up in the room. Have heard that Berman hasn’t had to run a real campaign in a very long time and maybe that showed yesterday. Sherman seemed to be in good condition and ready for a long and difficult campaign trail. Looking forward to an interesting race to watch in CD 30.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      Interestingly, Sherman’s campaign was already working the delegate list well before the pre-endorsement caucus. I guess they figured that neither would win at the caucus, neither would win the district vote at the convention, so it might go to a convention floor fight. With 2 incumbents, that seems like a fair supposition. I’m surprised they were wrong.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      This isn’t accurate in terms of the numbers. Sherman won about 53% of the vote because he had been working the caucus for quite a while. There was a mild controversy before the vote started because several delegates had been appointed by elected officials who supported Berman that were going to cast their votes for Sherman against their appointers wishes and had their voting rights pulled by the elected officials. But even if all of these votes had been counted, Brad Sherman wouldn’t have won the endorsement and several people who had already mailed or faxed in their ballots stated at the event that they had changed their minds on who to support.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I should explain that the delegates who were going to vote for Sherman against Berman were encouraged by the Sherman campaign to ask for spots on the committee and several had told their appointees that they wouldn’t cast ballots in this particular endorsement vote and in most of the others, the appointers didn’t realize that the race would be taking place when they were asked to make the appointment.

    • avatar FOIA says:

      Is LADem a Parke staffer ? The comments and errors of fact sure sound like it. I was also at the Sunday meeting and Howard was sure in his delivery as Brad was in shouting that he was from the best named city in America – “Sherman” Oaks. Kind of surprised he wasn’t throwing combs at us. The vote ended with Brad at 54%, enough to get to consideration of both candidates the CDP Convention in San Diego. But unfortunately for Brad the delegates from the Democratic Clubs his campaign purchased memberships in for the express purpose of vote packing on Sunday drop off in San Diego so 54% is his highwater mark at CDP endorsement when packing is involved. All the SuperPAC noise is that Brad is weak in that area, if the money favored Brad he would not be running around with the Pledge clapboard so desperately seeking to exploit his advantage of not donating to elect fellow Dems around the country while hoarding money for his re-election. If Brad truly wants money to go to change red to blue seats all he has to do is file to run in the Congressional District that includes areas of Ventura that he has represented before. That would be a Democratic pick up and big money, including SuperPAC’s that he currently objects to would flow to him to win that seat. Having said that, no Democrat in their right mind wants this race to happen. It will be costly beyond belief and in the end we lose one good vote no matter who wins.
      PS Sorry about the A whipping you took on your
      candidates on Sunday Parke.

  2. avatar LADem says:

    Both campaigns had all their votes lined up before the pre-endorsement meeting even began. When the vote was called for CD 30, only one person walked up to actually place their ballot in the box. All the other ballots had already been received and were in alpha order in the folder at the front. I went up to the front and looked around during the break that was just before the CD 30 process began. The staff had everything all ready to go and both campaigns were hovering closely. I gather that 60% doesn’t finish the process. Sherman actually needed 70% for an automatic convention endorsement. So, the endorsement process goes to the convention floor. I’ve heard that CD 30 could be a $15-$20 million race. Maybe I’m thinking too small, but that seems like a fair amount of money to pull out of red-to-blue races just for a couple of local LA Dems to slug it out. Berman’s work has been on the foreign affairs committee. I’m surprised he didn’t get a nod from Obama for some prestigious overseas post so that this battle could be avoided. The LA Dem donor base is critical to taking back the house. Don’t want those Dem superPAC donors to get distracted by some local tiff, when the bigger battle is looming. Not that $20 mill would dent their Hollywood pocketbooks that much, but that same money would purchase some good media time in the midwest. The folks who give to super PACs probably don’t read these political blogs too much, so I’m not real worried that I’ll offend them, but I wish they would pay a little more attention to the big picture rather than focus on some local grudge match in a safe blue district.

    • avatar OC Progressive says:

      The next step is a convention caucus, where the same delegates who were eligible for the district caucus get to vote in person or by proxy, without any mail-in ballots. If either candidate wins that caucus vote with between sixty per cent and 66 2/3% of the vote, the other candidate can gather 300 delegate signatures to take the battle to the floor of the convention, where a majority could vacate an endorsement, but it would take a super-majority for a new endorsement.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      On the idea of an overseas job, Berman obviously could have taken that any time he wanted and also could have made a lot more money as a lobbyist. But Congress unlike many elected bodies runs primarily by seniority and behind closed doors. Berman is considered by most liberals to be one of if not their top strategist in Washington and he has chosen to stay in the job rather than looking out for himself. His leadership is a part of why 23 out of 25 of his fellow Democratic members of Congress have endorsed him as well as most other local elected officials who have to try and get federal funding for their projects. For example all five County Supervisors endorsed him. Why? Because as it mentions in the article, most believe he was singly responsible for getting the money to widen the 405 ten years early and also for arranging funding for literally dozens of other projects.

  3. avatar OC Progressive says:

    You forgot to mention the Berman brothers’ role in the pay-to-play California reapportionment scheme after the 2000 census, an ugly deal designed to prevent any competitive elections in California for a decade.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      If you really believe that, then you also have to accept that Brad Sherman and most other liberal Democrats not only went along with the idea, they encouraged the concept.

  4. avatar pny.anna says:

    Was this written by a Berman staffer? This “fine” piece of journalism makes even the worst journalistic offenders at Fox News look unbiased.

  5. avatar LADem says:

    Didn’t seem like any of the voting delegates at the meeting on Sunday would consider changing their selection, but you never know. Spoke to a friend who has been a campaign manager for the DCCC in some red-to-blue districts in past years. He said that L.A. region congressional campaigns had always been expensive because the media market in L.A. was so high-priced. The Adam Schiff red-to-blue race held the record for the most expensive congressional campaign for a long time, but the district which was (and still seems to be) mostly in Pasadena went from red to blue and is still blue. That was money well-spent. Would be interesting to hear the conversations between Steve Israel and Nancy Pelosi in the next few weeks before the CA convention. How do they keep the L.A. Dem high-end donor base engaged in supporting red-to-blue congressional campaigns across the country which really need the funds rather than spend all their disposable income on a local dog fight? Maybe the market has changed with the high-end Dem donors and the donors have more money to spend these days on political campaigns than in previous years. L.A. Dem politics are fun to watch, but probably wise to keep a safe distance when the battle heats up.

  6. avatar Parke Skelton says:

    CalBuzz, which I realize is a source of opinion, not news, has written one of the most biased and factually challenged articles I have ever had the misfortune to read — their recent report on the Berman v. Sherman battle in CD30. A few points.

    CalBuzz opines, as does Mr. Berman, that only suckers bother to spend time engaging residents of their District. That Brad Sherman’s willingness to go out and talk to real people is a sign of weakness, not strength.

    OK, electoral ramifications aside, that’s debatable. But it begs the question. So where was Mr. Berman when Brad was back home meeting with people?

    Was Mr. Berman in D.C. voting on important legislation? Well, no, actually Berman has one of the worst attendance records in Congress, missing a staggering 8% of all roll call votes cast. Berman has the 413th worst attendance record in the House. (Sherman, on the other hand, has an outstanding voting record).

    Well, so where was Mr. Berman?

    Maybe on a junket.

    Howard Berman has taken 162 taxpayer and privately funded junkets as a member of Congress. He ranks 4th in total junkets and 3rd in trips paid for by special interests. In the last 11 years, Berman has accepted $273,933 in travel paid for by private interests. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Grand Cayman, St. Croix. All absolutely critical I am sure – and much more fun than talking to voters in the Valley. Or voting on the floor.

    As for accomplishments, Mr. Berman takes a lot of credit for stuff that other people have worked on as well. Do we really believe that Howard Berman got an extra lane built on the 405 by himself? Many people worked on that for years, at the local, state and federal level. As did Brad Sherman.

    Sherman has numerous important legislative victories, including successfully working to limit the scope of the TARP bailouts, ending secrecy at the Fed, securing substantial expansions of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, successfully opposing the massive Ahmanson Ranch project, protecting children from sexual predators, helping fund the Orange Line busway, raising the conforming loan limit to help protect the equity of Valley homeowners and prevent foreclosures, etc.

    For some bizarre reason, CalBuzz thinks that Berman’s role in the Iraq War is a fine example of his effectiveness.

    The Almanac of American Politics is worth quoting at length on this issue:

    “Berman played a critical role in winning passage by a wide margin of the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002. He strongly supported military action in Iraq, and in September came out from behind the scenes and organized a group of Democrats who shared his views. They broke off from the negotiations between Republicans and John Spratt (a moderate Democrat and senior member of the Armed Services Committee) who ended up offering up an alternative to the administration’s resolution, and [Berman] talked directly to the Bush Administration. He didn’t seek the permission of Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, but Berman’s discussions led to Gephardt’s agreement with the administration on the terms of the resolution — talks that undercut the demands of Spratt, Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph Biden.” (Almanac of American Politics, 2004)

    Sherman worked with the Democratic leadership to prevent or limit Bush’s war. Berman undercut the Democratic leadership and worked directly with the Bush White House to make the war inevitable. Then Berman stuck with Bush on the war until mid-2007. He was the only California Democrat who voted in 2006 for a GOP sponsored resolution to reject a timetable for withdrawal (“Berman with GOP on Iraq” L.A. Daily News, June 16, 2006)

    Was Berman effective? Maybe, but its nothing to be bragging about.

    Sherman acknowledges that after Berman and Bush had eliminated all of the less bellicose options, he reluctantly voted for the authorization. He recognizes that this was a mistake, and joined with Democrats to oppose the surge and to set a timetable for withdrawal. Was there a difference between Sherman and Bush on Iraq? Yes. A very big difference.

    Finally, you quote Jonah Lowenfeld from the Jewish Journal as saying that at a recent debate Sherman criticized Berman for votes that he himself had cast. But you do not bother to mention the published RETRACTION of this statement. You know, the one with the headline that blares, “For the record: Sherman didn’t flip-flop to attack Berman.” Lowenfeld admits that he messed up his reading of the vote record and withdrew the sentence that you cite. But even though you read the retraction (you quote from part of it) you fail to report that the critical sentence had been withdrawn. Amazing.

    Parke Skelton
    Consultant, Sherman for Congress

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Calbuzz accurately reported the “correction” (not “retraction”) in the Jewish Journal. You can read it for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/76hg7n8.

    • avatar Parke Skelton says:

      Actually, no. The Jewish Journal removed a sentence from their article which accused Sherman of criticizing Berman for votes he had cast himself. They ran a correction which was headlined “For the record: Sherman didn’t flip-flop to attack Berman.” Then the Buzz approvingly reprinted the sentence that had been retracted – knowing that the sentence had been disavowed by the author. That is not “accurate” or “reporting.”

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Wow. Talk about hyperbole. Anyone who knows anything about Washington understands that most of what goes on is behind closed doors and seniority (sadly) is a key factor. Literally hundreds of news agencies and political reporters have listed Howard Berman as one of the liberal strategic leaders in the House going back to when he was first elected. Newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times have called him one of Washington’s two or three most important members of Congress. Dozens have given him credit for legislation such as creating the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and passing Clean Air and human rights legislation as well as preserving jobs in our area. The real bottom line if you want to judge effectiveness is to look at who their colleagues support and 23 out of the 25 members of Congress who have endorsed in this race have endorsed Howard Berman. He has also been endorsed by every almost every elected official who represents the district. As for the war, they both voted wrong, but to try and claim that there was a difference in how they saw the issue is to split hairs at such a level as to be almost unimaginable. There was never a chance for any modification along the lines that Sherman proposed and he and a couple of other members simply tried to come up with something to cover themselves and they were voted down by most of their committee including several Democrats.

  7. avatar LADem says:

    OK, here are the numbers I could find quickly, but campaign finance isn’t my expertise. It appears that the baseline for a successful Dem congressional challenger campaign in 2008 was about $1M and the max spent in a high-cost media region was around $6M. The median may actually be at the lower end of the spectrum around $3M. If $15-20M is potentially spent on the Sherman/Berman battle in CD 30, those same funds could be spent to win 5 (or more) Dem congressional races in other critical districts around the country. CD 30 is a safe blue district. No Republican is going to win, place or show in CD 30 anytime in the near future. Here is a proposal that Berman and Sherman could consider…but I know they won’t. Both candidates should agree to send all funds above an agreed campaign spending limit to Dem challenger congressional campaigns across the country. When either Sherman or Berman is elected, this arrangement will guarantee that they will be well-loved by their new Dem colleagues in the house. The DCCC has a pretty good list of campaigns on their website so there really isn’t any question of where to send the money. However, I’m sure that these two L.A. Dem candidates will continue to violently wrestle over the arrangement of the deck chairs around the many blue pools in the SFV as the under-funded red-to-blue campaigns of their Dem colleagues around the country struggle to keep their heads above water. Yes, I know, I’m just another California dreamer. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      The problem with that is Howard Berman has been donating to Democrats across the country for years while Brad Sherman has kept the money he raises for himself. For example in the two years leading up to the 2010 election Howard Berman raised about 2.5 million dollars more than Brad Sherman, but wound up with 1.4 million dollars less because he was giving money to other candidates.

  8. avatar LADem says:

    Maybe Berman and Sherman could sign a joint letter asking all Dem super PACs to hold off any campaign activity in CD 30 until after the primary. I remember that one of the candidates mentioned some idea along these lines, but I don’t remember the details. I wonder if John Burton would help the two candidates write the joint letter at the CA convention? OK, maybe not. Well, how about both candidates could publicly ask those big ole superPAC donors with loads of spare cash to hold off driving up the cost of the campaign in CD 30 until after the primary? Tell those wealthy donors that the Dems who actually LIVE in CD 30 can be trusted to make reasonable decisions without getting deluged by mailers and phone calls. Think of all the trees that will be sacrificed in the names of these two campaigns–the globe will warm up by at least 1 degree by the end of the campaign season. Ask those extremely wealthy Dem donors to send their nickels and dimes to those faithful Dem volunteers walking for red-to-blue campaigns in the snow, sleet and rain in the midwest and northeast. That’s where Dem money should be spent–on red-to-blue races, not blue against blue!

    • avatar Parke Skelton says:

      The Sherman campaign has proposed an agreement to eliminate SuperPAC spending in the CD30 race. Berman rejected it. Interestingly, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren agreed to a no SuperPac pledge very similar to the one offered by Sherman. We will keep trying.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Since the Sherman campaign has such an interest in helping Democrats win races in other parts of the country, perhaps they could start by taking what they have and matchiing Howard Berman’s donations to other Democrats for the last six years. Of course then he would have a debt to pay off instead of having a fundraising lead, but that seems to be a minor issue.

  9. avatar LADem says:

    Democrats cannot afford another 2-4 years of Republican control of the House. If we don’t win the 25 necessary seats in the House in 2012, it will undermine everything we worked for in electing Barack Obama. I wasn’t aware that Berman had not signed the anti-SuperPAC pledge yet. I thought that Berman was a Dem progressive–and many, many years ago was even proud to call himself a liberal. Everything I had heard was that Berman hasn’t been required to run a real campaign in a while, but that he had run some good races earlier in his career. What happened? Is Berman so unsure of his ability to win CD 30 that he needs to get special campaign support from the groups of unknown donors and business interests involved with SuperPACs? That doesn’t sound good. I wondered why there seemed to be some strong feelings at the pre-endorsement meeting on Sunday. Berman seemed a little shaky in his presentation to the group and now it’s clear why. Very interesting indeed.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Berman has asked people not to donate to Superpacs and has introduced bills to outlaw them. However Sherman’s suggestion is political gameplaying because while both have superpacs supporting them, Sherman had more money to start out with because Berman has been donating and raising money for Democrats across the country. More to the point, because no candidate can control what a superpac does, giving up his own more limited resources could stop him from getting his own message out because of what an unconnected group might spend, even if they spent their money in a way that hurt his campaign.

  10. avatar LADem says:

    Watch the Jon Stewart show about that SuperPAC issue. It’s the show where he and Colbert are on the phone with the ex-Director of the FEC who is the attorney for both the Colbert campaign and the SuperPAC which supports Colbert. They clearly demonstrate how any candidate can easily control what a SuperPAC does. SuperPACs were a Republican creation so that big business could manipulate elections. Democrats running in solid blue districts should not be taking unknown large donations from big business interests by using SuperPACs. The 2012 election is not a joke and is not a game. We have an election in which we could change control of the house. If we don’t change control of the house, Obama won’t get anything done and the country could be severely harmed for generations. All Democrats who are running in solid blue districts should be willing to sign the anti-SuperPAC pledge. That money should go to the 25 districts that we need to win the house. Elizabeth Warren is setting an extraordinary example for all of us. California Democracts should be leading the way, not dragging along behind and making excuses. Leadership takes courage. I hope that both Sherman and Berman will demonstrate their leadership at the CA Convention and sign the anti-SuperPAC pledge.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I will definitely check it out. Certainly there is something wrong with committees sending out these types of messages which candidates can’t control and they should be limited in some way. I think I was a little bothered by the implication that only one side was getting help from these types of committee’s or significant IE’s when it looks like if the race happens, both sides will have these committee’s up and running and the consultants for both candidates have had similar groups helping their candidates in the past.

  11. avatar LADem says:

    There isn’t any separation between candidates and SuperPACs which can’t be easily manipulated. That legal separation which SuperPAC supporters promote is a fictional storyline created by big business interests. The question is whether CA Democrats will demonstrate some loyalty to progressive Dems who have supported them for decades. I’ve attended hundreds of fundraisers for Waxman, Berman, Sherman and Schiff over the years. All of these candidates talk a good game as they shake your hand and tell you how grateful they are for your financial support. The question is whether these CA Democrats will follow-through on all those promises made at fundraisers. They say how much they object to SuperPACs, they talk about anti-SuperPAC legislation which they “hope” they can vote for some day soon. No more false promises. Now it’s time for CA Democrats in safe blue districts to step up, recognize the struggle of other candidates in challenging red-to-blue districts, follow-through on promises made to their donors and volunteers. Sign the anti-SuperPAC pledge!

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I agree, but would say again the more important promise for this race in my opinion would be a commitment to not penalize a candidate for supporting other Democrats and for Brad Sherman to give some of his campaign money to other Democrats at least equal to what Howard Berman has given. This still wouldn’t require him to spend the time to raise money from third parties that Berman has already done, but would at least even things out a little bit..

  12. avatar LADem says:

    OK, here is a proposal for consideration… What if we ask Berman, Sherman, Waxman and Schiff to agree that each of their campaigns will match the funds spent by SuperPACs in their districts on a month-to-month basis for every month leading up to the CA primary. These 4 candidates are all in safe blue districts so they should be more than able to make a donation from their campaign to a group of DCCC selected red-to-blue campaigns each month for the next 5 months. It allowed under FEC rules. Each of these campaigns would be able to make their donations to other campaigns on February 1, March 1, April 1, May 1 and June 1. These 4 candidates who all SAY that they support progressive values can now PROVE that the promises they have made to Democratic donors and progressive activists in Los Angeles are in fact true. They will be able to donate 5 times in the next 5 months–5 great media opportunities for these 4 Democratic candidates in CA. What an opportunity to prove their Democratic loyalty. I’m sure that the folks at the DCCC and red-to-blue campaigns in CA and across the country will appreciate the support. I’m looking forward to hearing from Berman, Sherman, Waxman and Schiff. Let’s see which candidate steps up first…

  13. As a “pro-peace” and “pro-single payer health plan” Tom Hayden style progressive Democrat, I am disappointed that neither Berman nor Sherman has joined the House Progressive Caucus. It is the caucus pushing for the most progressive legislation, the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Other democrats belong to the House Progressive Caucus, like Henry Waxman, why not Sherman or Berman? Do they both prefer to be seen as centrists? As a liberal, who should I support?

  14. avatar LADem says:

    We could call it the California Red-to-Blue anti-SuperPAC pledge. Here is a draft…

    This is to verify that I (candidate name goes here), promise to match any donations from SuperPACs spent for the benefit of my campaign in my district on the 1st of each month for every month up to the California primary and that I hereby promise to donate all of those matching funds to campaigns listed on the DCCC red-to-blue list.

    I’m sure that the Berman, Sherman, Schiff and Waxman campaigns will revise this draft, but it’s a start.

    Do you think that we should add Karen Bass, Judy Chu, Maxine Waters and Janice Hahn to the potential list of signers for the California Red-to-Blue anti-SuperPAC pledge?

  15. avatar LADem says:

    Sorry Kenneth, but I’m not making any specific candidate suggestions. It just feels more important to me to do the following:

    1) Create a fair playing field for all Democratic candidates by reducing the potential impact of SuperPACs in pre-primary races;

    2) Hold Democratic candidates responsible to make good on their promises; and most importantly,

    3) Do everything possible to help Democrats take back the House in 2012!

    However, I would greatly appreciate it if you could ask your congressional representative to take a look at the first draft of the California Red-to-Blue anti-SuperPAC pledge.

  16. Over a third of all members of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives are members of the House Progressive Caucus. This is not a minor issue. Maybe Parke Skelton has a theory about why Sherman will not join the House Progressive Caucus. Both Berman and Sherman are within the Democratic mainstream in terms of their voting records, and both get fairly approval ratins from teh liberal interest group Americans for Democratic Action. That is why I am boggled why neither joins the House Progressive Caucus. Either one can join it, and still vote theri conscience. I am not asking eitherBerman or Sherman to vote in lockstep with the House Progressive Caucus, I am merely hoping both Sherman and Berman, or at least one of them will finally join the House Progressive Caucus. Whoever officially joins it first will get my vote, and the votes of other progressives in the 30th CD, like members of Progressive Democrats of America.

  17. avatar OC Progressive says:

    As a CDP convention delegate, with the possibility of having a floor vote make the difference on an official party endorsement, it’s nice to see that one of the candidates is reaching out with phone calls and a nice piece of direct mail.

  18. avatar LADem says:

    Waxman, Berman, Sherman, Schiff, and many other members of the California congressional delegation have all gone on the record opposing SuperPACs. These candidates have all clearly stated their opposition to SuperPACs at Democratic events over and over again throughout the L.A. region. All of them have recruited donations from progressive Democrats to their campaigns because of their stated opposition to SuperPACs. California Democratic congressional leaders have a long and cherished history of leading the way with progressive values. Waxman, Berman, Sherman, and Schiff are candidates who will follow-through on the promises that they have made. These good Democrats need to go on the record with an anti-SuperPAC pledge, especially a pledge that guarantees that the funds will go to DCCC targeted red-to-blue races. We should expect California Democrats to be leaders because they have promised us that they would lead–not make excuses.

  19. Here are the members of Congress from California who are already members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus: Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Judy Chu, Sam Farr, Bob FIlner, Janice Hahn, Michael Honda, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Laura Richardson, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sanchez, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey. This is a very diverse list, and I am ver surprised that neither Sherman nor Berman has joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but it is still not too late!

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I think you will find that both Berman and Sherman have a problem with the progressive caucus on the Middle East. However there are rumors of more candidates getting into this race, so you may have other options that are more to your liking.

  20. avatar LADem says:

    I wonder how Democratic donors would feel if they had a list of the members of the CA congressional delegation who had signed an anti-SuperPAC pledge? The Waxman, Berman, Sherman and Schiff donor base include some of the most devoutly liberal Democratic donors in the entire country. Maybe a direct appeal to these donors would be a more productive path. What if Democratic donors knew that Waxman, Berman, Sherman and Schiff had refused to sign an anti-SuperPAC pledge? If this issue was presented in a manner which revealed the members of the CA congressional delegation who had publicly stated their opposition to SuperPACs, but refused to sign an anti-SuperPAC pledge, would it cause these political donors to change their donation patterns? An interesting question…

  21. Well, who else is rumored to enter the race, doughnut70? Former state senator Tom Hayden will not endorse Berman or Sherman.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      There are two online polls that mention other candidates. One mentions Bob Hertzberg as a possible candidate the other Laura Chick. Then there is a newspaper story saying a progressive group had met to find a candidate to run against the two.

  22. avatar LADem says:

    Went to dinner with friends last night and we were remembering the days of Tony Beilenson. He survived some tough campaign years. Looks like that district will be a battleground one more time. All the money that is going to be spent in CD 30 might turn that Sepulveda flood basin a little green.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      It was good to remember Tony. He was a fine elected official. I walked a precinct for his son Peter when I was in Maryland a few years ago and he was running for Congress. Someone told me he was looking at running for office again this year. I certainly hope so.

  23. Hey doughnut70, which progressive group met to find someone to run against the two? Maybe you can put a link to the article on here.

  24. avatar LADem says:

    And the speculation continues…Some of the folks I’m talking to are saying that the CA convention endorsement for CD 30 will probably turn into an ugly floor fight. Both candidates already have long lists of endorsements from electeds and well-respected delegates. Both campaigns have hired experienced campaign consulting firms. Here are some of the questions that my Dem friends are kicking around. Will Berman’s non-response on the use of SuperPAC funds in the pre-primary race have an impact on a CA convention floor vote? Do all those hard-working Dem volunteers who have worked long hours and struggled to be elected as delegates really have any feelings about the use of SuperPAC funds in pre-primary races? If the CA convention endorses either candidate, what factor, if any, could that play in the CD 30 race? In an urban region like CD 30, what is the end game value of a CA convention endorsement? A few other folks are saying that Sherman has probably already been approached by donors who can quickly pull together a SuperPAC. He just hasn’t said yes to them yet. Setting up a SuperPAC takes about 3 days–it’s fairly easy to do. Since the lobbyists and executives in the entertainment and tech industries are no slouches, they will just put funds into both SuperPACs. There is no requirement that the names of the companies giving money to SuperPACs be disclosed, so it doesn’t really matter. No one will get burned in the process. These business entities aren’t going to risk offending a potential future Dem congressman–be it Berman or Sherman. So, the whole SuperPAC impact could essentially be negated because both campaigns will receive equivalent funding from different SuperPACs. The business entities will spend some money on a bunch of SuperPACs and the political consulting firms managing the SuperPACs make some extra money to spend on their vacation homes. In the end, will the results be exactly the same as it would have been before SuperPACs? You all know what I prefer. I want that money to be spent on red-to-blue districts–not on CD 30. I’m looking forward to an interesting weekend of dinner party conversations. Too many Dem fundraiser events, too little time…

  25. avatar Dem4Life says:

    I’m a college student in LA who is very involved with Democratic politics and I took interest in this race when I started to read about it in Politico this summer. I wanted to see the process in action, so I decided to attend the pre-endorsement conference on Sunday, and after reading this comments I really feel like I need to throw some cold water onto this conversation.

    Firstly, let’s do some simple math, people. 143 non-provisional votes were cast, and Sherman got 77. 77 votes/143 votes=54% (actually a couple decimals less but who’s counting?). 54%≠ 60%. It’s amazing how people with an agenda can find a way to manipulate something as concrete as mathematics.

    I also completely disagree with LA Dem regarding Howard Berman’s speech—it was my first time seeing Berman speak and I found him to be quite calm, collected, and in his element. In fact, the audience enjoyed Berman’s performance enough that they applauded him twice during the speech—presumably why he had to rush to finish. In contrast, Sherman, whom I have seen speak at several political conferences, seemed more flustered than usual. While the audience was courteous, his speech seemed to jump around a lot. Perhaps it had to do with the delegates pulled, but why he might have been off his game is ultimately pure speculation. Because of all of these factors, I strongly disagree with LA Dem on this regard.

    Regarding the issues, here is where I’m coming from: I grew up going to high school in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district while she was Speaker while living in Barbara Lee’s Oakland district while she was CBC Chair. A member of Congress’s ability to build coalitions, navigate the system, and get high quality bills passed is paramount to their district’s vitality. Growing up, I saw that having an effective Democrat in Congress translates to high quality jobs for the district. That’s just how politics works. While Mr. Skelton, Sherman’s campaign manager btw, attempted to make a shortlist of Sherman’s legislative accomplishments (and I am excited to learn more about them), he failed to address the elephant in the room: Howard Berman has 23 endorsements from California’s congressional delegation—Brad Sherman has 2. This article and most other pieces published on the race agree that these numbers indicate that Berman has the full confidence of his colleagues while Brad Sherman has little.

    Just look at what the two candidates said at the pre-endorsement conference—Berman highlighted how he spearheaded the expansion of the 405 and without his work the project would still be on hold. He also promised to see through the DREAM Act, a legislative masterpiece that began in his office. All Sherman could say in response to Berman’s leadership was something to the effect of “I’m just as much of a supporter of expanding the 405 and passing the DREAM Act as anyone.” REALLY? Did you really just effectively acknowledging that while Howard is a leader, you are just another vote? I couldn’t believe it. But if you look at their records it’s true. You will find that Howard Berman is one of America’s most effective members of Congress and Brad Sherman is one of the least. To paraphrase this article, Berman is a legend while Sherman is a Shlimiel. I like Brad Sherman fine. He definitely has his qualities, and I am therefore baffled that his campaign has decided to argue the unwinnable argument that he compares to Howard Berman as an effective legislator. Let their records and their endorsements speak for themselves.

  26. avatar Dem4Life says:

    One more thing. While I completely agree that Congress needs to take all necessary steps to modify campaign finance laws, making superPACs an issue in this race seems to me like just distraction contrived by Parke Skelton to distract voters from his candidate’s insufficiency. Both Berman and Sherman have worked hard to get the needs the needs of the SFV through Congress (albeit one more effective than the other) so let their records speak for themselves. Stop questioning the integrity of a candidate who has done so much for the Valley for your own political gain, Mr. Skelton. Your candidate has issues too—rather than donating money to turn districts from red-to-blue, your candidate hoarded the money to challenge a fellow Democrat when he could have run in a neighboring district.

    Schemes like this drive me nuts. Congressman Sherman and Parke Skelton, if you read this comment PLEASE STOP WITH THE DISTRACTIONS AND START TALKING ABOUT THE ISSUES.

  27. avatar LADem says:

    Do you think discussions about SuperPACS are just a distraction? Nancy Pelosi, Steve Israel and many great Democratic leaders might disagree with you on that point. However, what is most important is that we all respect your right to voice your perspective. None of us want your voice, and the voices of so many hard-working Democrats to be drowned out by SuperPACs with tons of money that can flood an election. Your participation is encouraged and appreciated. Have a pleasant weekend and keep up the fantastic work for the Democratic Party!

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      No one wants to see someone’s voice drowned out by big money, but there are a lot of abuses that take place in the current system and to make a pledge like Sherman has made, but to refuse to include I.E. committee’s (which have supported him in the past) is semantic game playing. It’s also not fair to Berman who started way behind financially because he gave money to other candidates and who if he and Sherman both got the same amount from Superpacs and gave up that money, would be hurt far more dramatically. But the real problem is Sherman is trying to game the system by eliminating some abusers who he thinks are likely to favor Berman, but not including his own likely supporters.

  28. avatar LADem says:

    I don’t spend a lot of time reading FEC records, but if someone out there probably does, which independent expenditure committees have given to Berman and which ones have given to Sherman? Has there been any significant difference in the past 10 years? I’m assuming that you are talking about the independent expenditure committees which represent the unions. Interesting juxtaposition. If I get what you are implying, you are saying that Sherman is the union-supported candidate through independent expenditure committees and Berman is the big business candidate supported through SuperPACs. That doesn’t sound quite right. I’ve been to both Berman fundraisers and Sherman fundraisers over the past 15 years. My recollection is that both candidates have been supported by unions. Actually, I don’t think there is a Democratic campaign in the Los Angeles County region which hasn’t received the support of unions and their independent expenditure committees. I wouldn’t put IE’s in the same category as SuperPACs. At this point in time, the high-level multi-million dollar donors to SuperPACs can remain completely secret. These donors can be individuals or business interests. Let’s hope that the Congress can change the rules on these SuperPACs sooner rather than later.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      No. Because for his first two terms, Sherman was in a more marginal district, he had support from business IE’s on his behalf. Not a lot because he was running against a Republican, but some looking to get on the good side of the Democratic party and Sherman was more than happy to take them as Parke Skelton has always been for his other clients. As for them not being in the same category as Super Pacs, I don’t see the difference, since either one can be financed by one huge donation from a major donor.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I should explain that the difference between Super Pacs and IE’s in previous races is that the Super Pacs are exempt from some reporting requirements, but I.E.’s in this race could still be set up by one major donor who liked either client and then swoop in at the end with a major expenditure. I was simply pointing out as others have also that if Brad were willing to also say that he would not accept IE money, his complaints would have a little more weight. Not much I don’t think, but they at least could be taken seriously instead of looking like a game to gain an upper hand.

    • avatar LADem says:

      Is there an agreement that both candidates would be willing to sign? Berman and Sherman are both extremely capable fundraisers. Neither one of them needs to use the SuperPAC “nuclear” option. If one or both of these candidates choose to use SuperPACs, what message does that send to the hard-working Democratic volunteers of LA County?

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      There could be such an agreement, but it would involve things like an arbitration committee to adjudicate disputes so neither side cheated. This subject has also gotten complicated by the Obama campaigns decision to help raise money for a Super Pac, but maybe something could be done, especially if Sherman was willing to give back an amount to even the field for what Berman has done for other Dems.

  29. avatar LADem says:

    Found an LATimes article dated March 29, 1992. Evidently Berman received an endorsement from a GOP group in a previous election and then used it on a mailer entitled “Republicans for Nixon-Berman”. The LA Times quoted Berman saying something along the lines of…”It certainly was expedient. I never said I was pure, and I never said I was proud of everything that I did.” Berman also evidently introduced a campaign financing bill in the CA legislature which was supported by Common Cause and then at the last minute he withdrew it. The LA Times article stated that Berman had indicated to their reporter that the campaign finance reforms might “undercut his political agenda”. These aren’t my words–read the LA Times article (it’s online). If there was a retraction or a correction by the LA Times, please share it. If Berman is willing to use these types of tactics and receives millions of dollars from big business supported SuperPACs, there is no question that Sherman will be compelled to take the same route. There may be SuperPACs lining up for Sherman already. As you all know, it is my hope that the Democratic leadership can get both of these candidates to sign an anti-SuperPAC pledge. Because the CD 30 campaign is in L.A. which is a major media market, it will receive a significant amount of press coverage. The CD 30 campaign won’t make the CA Dem Party look very good if two Democratic candidates in an absolutely reliable blue district each get millions of dollars of SuperPAC support. So much for the California grassroots approach. The CD 30 race may end up looking more like a California grassfire with big business interests using SuperPAC blowtorches.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      and Sherman paid to be on mailers that supported George W. Bush and also used it for his own campaign. In both cases, the other groups put out the mail and supporters of Brads and Howard’s contributed towards the cost. The campaign finance bill was withdrawn not because it interfered with some sort of personal agenda, Berman has held the same job since 1982, but because it would have hurt fundraising by Democratic leadership that year and he was asked to withdraw the bill, which he did. As for the question about Super Pacs, you are making it sound like the actions of one candidate are forcing the other in the same direction and that is silly. Both have done the same thing in previous competitive races and I am sure both will do the same this time if they feel it is necessary. The question is if Brad Sherman will live up to the unwritten rule to not raise money more than two years early for a competitive race unless he donates an equal amount to other Democrats in more competitive seats.

  30. avatar LADem says:

    I agree with you. All campaign funding should have full disclosure. Maybe both candidates could agree that any and all organizations which support them should provide full disclosure of all donors or the candidate will agree to donate matching funds to a red-to-blue race.

    As for the redistricting, is there anyone who knew how the lines would end up? And, if you want to make a list of Democratic congressional incumbents who retained some funds in their campaigns, won’t that be a rather long list?

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Early and full disclosure is definitely something both candidates should get behind. On the idea of setting aside money, there is a formula that has been used for years by incumbent Democrats. They are asked to put up a certain amount depending on their committee assignments to protect the party. Then for anything above that amount, they traditionally set aside one third of what they raise to give to support other candidates. It is a tradition that has been in place for a long time.

  31. While both dises worry about IEs and super Pacs, it would take only 2 seconds for either Brad Sherman or Howard Berman to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Here is a golden opportunity for either or both of them to identify with the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Both are well known as good liberals, but as I mentioned, both have strong disagreements with the progressive caucus on Israel.

  32. avatar Dem4Life says:

    Indeed full disclosure should be commonplace in all races around the country. That just highlights why Sherman’s superPAC ploy is just a distraction from the issues: The candidate claiming to champion clean campaign finance practices is only focusing on superPACs, an issue irrelevant to him because no superPAC has endorsed him, rather than broader disclosure/transparency.

  33. avatar LADem says:

    DCCC leadership has expressed concern about the donor support continuing at the same levels through the end of the election cycle for the red-to-blue races. Would be a shame if the Berman/Sherman SuperPACs ended up helping to sacrifice the House for the Dems, but that may be the end result. SuperPACs will make their mark. It’s definitely going to be an interesting election season.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I don’t know. There are actually several superpacs set up to support Democratic congressional candidates. The real problem is too much money. By the way, I don’t know if you noticed, but Elizabeth Warren is saying she may have to reconsider her position because her opponent has been successful at finding loopholes in their agreement so spend his money. I think if there is a hangup with either congressional candidate, it is not because they like the idea of a Superpac, but because they worry about their opponent dumping money in at the last minute through a loophole. That is why it makes more sense to say they will spend their own money and give up the equivilent of any IE committee’s that support their opponent and also establish a non-partisan arbitration committee to adjudicate.

  34. avatar OC Progressive says:

    Hmm, the mail keeps coming to CDP delegates. Yesterday, an appeal from Dolores Huerta to vote for Berman. Today, Tony Villaraigosa penned me a letter detailing Berman’s effectiveness. Meanwhile, a gal from Brad Sherman’s campaign is in my driveway, buffing out the new wax job she just applied to my Nissan LEAF.

    • avatar LADem says:

      Darn it, I received letters from both campaigns, but no one came to do the wax job on my car. You know, I could really use a new car. I wonder if one of the candidates in CD 30 could introduce me to one of their superPAC billionaire friends. If you can buy a congressman for $1 million, how much should a CA Dem delegate cost? I feel that I could vote at the convention with so much more confidence if I was driving a Tesla. Gosh, I wonder what Jeff Katzenberg drives?

  35. I think Superbowl Weekend is the perfect time for either Berman or Sherman to officially join the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This would give an edge among us remaining Howard Dean supporters!

  36. avatar OC Progressive says:

    And the mail war continues leading up to the CDP convention battle.

    Saturday, a killer hit piece on Berman and Iraq. “Howard Berman worked with George Bush to undercut Democratic efforts to prevent the war in Iraq”. “Berman was one of the last Democrats to oppose the Iraq War. In 2006, he was the only California Democrat to vote for a Republican Bill to reject a timetable for withdrawal.” “Berman hope you forget. Don’t.”

    And a great letter from DPSFV. “Activists in DPSFV know both candidates well. There is a difference. For progressives, for Party activists, it matters who wins.”

    Stuff like this has to have Berman squirmin’.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      It might, but it’s also silly and misleading. Both candidates supported the war and both have admitted they were wrong to do so. Berman’s 2006 vote was a technical vote which allowed him to call for a reconsideration if the votes were gathered for a compromise. To try and find a difference between these two on the war in Iraq is to try and find a distinction when there is no difference.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      By the way, did Sherman’s mailer mention his support for Republican Mitch Englander for City Council over Democrat Brad Smith?

    • avatar LADem says:

      Has Congressman Howard Berman now decided to endorse Brad Smith? Can’t seem to find Howard Berman’s endorsement anywhere on Brad Smith’s campaign website which is still online if you are looking for it. It would seem that Howard Berman never made any effort to actually endorse any candidate in that L.A. City Council race.

      Maybe Howard should consider spending a little more time in Los Angeles and a little less time being paid large fees for appearing at various private speaking events not in California–like in Hawaii, Arizona and Colorado.

      It’s so hard for candidates to actually spend time with those demanding Democratic Party grassroots activists in Los Angeles when they can earn such lucrative speaking fees and breathe in the fresh air of Aspen or bask on the beaches of Hawaii. Howard sure does have a nice tan though!

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I think you will find Brad Smith’s name on Howard Bermans endorsement list. I do also think there is a difference between not endorsing in a race where you don’t know the Democrat and supporting the Republcian who is the nephew of a prominent political consultant. By the way, I know the myth about Berman taking trips is getting some traction. The implication to that is that he is ineffective and yet virtually every non-partisan observer of Congress calls him one of the two or three most effective members and a leader on the liberal side of the aisle.

    • avatar LADem says:

      Brad Smith lost that L.A. City Council seat because he couldn’t make up his mind whether or not he was a serious candidate. He dropped out of the race and then decided to step back in. His behavior irritated many of the activists who were trying to help his campaign. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that Englander took that race by 58% with Brad Smith trailing behind around 28%. The L.A. City Council is supposedly a non-partisan race. However, many of the elected Democratic members of the L.A. City Council made a point of endorsing Englander! Those endorsements from the other L.A. City Council members are what ended Smith’s chances more than anything else. Those elected Democrats sent a clear message about which candidate they wanted to work with and unfortunately, it wasn’t Smith. The Smith campaign never recovered. I’m happy that Berman ended up endorsing Brad Smith. However, is Howard now going to reprimand all the Democrats on the L.A. City Council who made a point of endorsing Englander? That would be an interesting moment in L.A. political history.

      As for the second issue you raise, I don’t think that Berman is ineffective. I think he is out of touch with LA though. I’m glad that Howard handed over his original congressiional district to another candidate. Howard has not been able to make enough of an effort to be available to his constituency. That is why he didn’t receive the endorsement from the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley for CD 30. That feeling is shared by many members at the County Committee level as well. There wasn’t any contest for the DPSFV endorsement even though Berman showed up to present his case personally. Berman has a long and treasured history as a valuable Democratic resource. He has done many good things in his career and we all care about him. Being a congressman these days takes a lot more effort and energy than it used to and Howard isn’t getting any younger. Instead of going to Aspen, Howard really needed to get on that horrible redeye flight, come to LA and spend some time in the city with the Democrats in his district. If you want to pursue this further, here is a question for you. Take the past 2 years–104 weekends. Tell me where Howard spent those weekends and tell me where Brad spent those weekends. Which candidate has proven that they are willing to get on that plane and come home to Los Angeles and be with the hard-working Democrats of this fair city? Los Angeles needs Democratic candidates who are willing to make that effort–not candidates who would prefer to be somewhere else. Aspen is wonderful–I visit there regularly. But, I’m not a candidate running for office.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      That’s misleading on several points. First, Englanders uncle is a prominent poltical consultant who is currently a registered Democrat and his cousin is a Democratic staffer. That is why so many Democrats endorsed him for the race even though Mitch himself has always been a conservative Republican. Smith got discouraged when so many people (including Sherman) went the other way that he started to quit, but eventually stuck it out. Berman refused to take a stand because he didn’t know Smith, but knew that he disagreed with Mitch on the issues. Sherman went with the more politically connected candidate. As for Berman not representing the Valley, several of his fellow congressmembers and the Washington Post have talked about his constituent services as being legendary. The reason all five members of the LA Board of Supervisors gave for endorsing him was that he was responsible for most of what they were able to get from the Federal government. As an easy example, expanding the 405 wasn’t supposed to happen for another decade, but Berman got it done sooner. Not by his connections, but by finding traffic experts who showed that it should be done sooner under the existing guidlines. But it is the same on everything. What you are missing is that Berman stays in close contact with his fellow members back in Washington, because he needs to convince them to support his bills. But his staff stays in close contact with the residents of the San Fernando Valley which is a big part of why his staffer Bob Blumenfeld was elected to the State Assembly over three other strong candidates with over fifty percent of the vote even though one of the others outspent him by almost two to one. In a survey of Congressional staffers, done by Taegan Goddard’s political wire, Bermans office staff was voted as the best at constituent service in the entire congress. That is what other staffs think of his work. As for who has spent more weekends in their district, I can’t say. But I do know that Howard Berman has had to cancel events three times because the President wanted him back in Washington for consultations. Do you think he ever asks Brad Sherman to fly back to DC?

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I just wrote a very long response on the last point, but I should add for those not completely familiar with the system, that Mitch Englanders uncle is a huge fundraiser for members of both parties which is why some Democrats crossed party lines.

  37. avatar LADem says:

    My morning coffee with some Dem donor friends had a different tone. Obama’s approval and encouragement of Super PACs was deeply disturbing, but the potential for increased Republican control of government was also disturbing. All of us are regular Dem donors at varying levels and most of us have now been approached by at least one Dem Super PAC for a donation. Obama has now made it clear that Dems should give to Super PACs or the Republicans could win. None of us would choose this path, but what are our options? The question was posed this morning which SuperPACs might be the best “investment” of our donor dollar? It seems that there are three leading Super PACs for Dems–Priorities USA Action, Majority PAC and House Majority PAC. As of Dec 31, these top 3 Dem Super PACs seem to have raised about $10M. As of Dec 31, the top 5 Republican Super PACs seem to have raised about $50M. As much as we all hated to admit it, we didn’t see that Obama had a choice in the situation and we feel like we don’t either. If the Republicans have proven that they are willing to go nuclear on a national level, how can the Democrats reasonably disarm? The question is whether higher-level donors and their businesses will now feel compelled to “invest” in Super PACs to protect their interests? I’m looking forward to attending the CA convention and catching up with many friends. It’s definitely going to be an interesting weekend.

  38. The Jewish Journal is sponsoring a debate for the CD 30 race on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at Temple Judea in Tarzana, which is on Lindley Avenue. The invited candidates are Democrats Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, as well as Republican Mark Reed. Two other candidates, Democrat Vince Gilmore and Republican Susan Shelly have not been invited to participate. This will be the second debate of the campaign, and if this debate is like the first one that took place last month at the Westfield Promenade Mall, some sparks will continue to fly. Hopefully, many of us readers of Calbuzz.com will be able to attend in person. Hopefully by then, Sherman and/or Berman will be a new member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

  39. avatar LADem says:

    A long day of meetings today. Lots of discussions about the harmful impact of Super PACs. Serious concern was expressed about any Democrat who would consider encouraging a Super PAC to fund activities against another Democrat. Democrats who encourage the “nuclear” option to benefit themselves against another Democrat may be surprised by the backlash from the Democratic base. Saw a copy of the endorsement letter from Betty Yee. Betty says that Democrats who choose to vote for Brad Sherman are “insane” and “self-destructive. ” I respectfully disagree with Betty’s low regard for the decision-making capacity of the delegates of the Democratic Party. Betty talks about Howard Berman as a “titan” and a “champion”. Most of us are aware that Howard has mostly “championed” Howard. The proof as we all know is that Howard spends most of his weekends lining his pockets with speaking fees and traveling to luxurious sites rather than actually working with the constituents in his district. Betty’s letter was a sad and harmful insult to the extraordinary intelligence and hard work of all Democrats and especially to the good delegates who are gathering at the convention this weekend. “Self-destructive” is a much more appropriate description of her endorsement letter and the Berman campaign who felt that it was appropriate message. It’s a shame that the Howard Berman campaign seems to have such a low opinion of Democratic delegates. But then, Howard has his Super PAC friends, so why would he bother spending time with Democratic delegates and activists. Yes folks, it is going to be an interesting weekend.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      and you have to wonder when elected officials who work with both candidates take such a strong position. Certainly Betty Yee is not the only elected official in California who has called Howard Berman a titan. There is a reason virtually every elected official had endorsed him and several have talked about his role is securing funding for specific projects like expanding the 405 which Supervisor Yaroslavsky says would never have happened without him. The real bottom line is that 23 out of the 25 members of Congress who have endorsed in this race have endorsed Howard Berman, as have virtually every other elected offical in the state. So for a Parke Skelton client like Betty Yee to make such a strong statement just reinforces how much she thinks about Howard Berman’s leadership ability.

    • avatar ValleyDem says:

      I have no idea where u get the idea Howard is lining his pockets with money and traveling to vacation. He flies home every week to meet with people in the district and be with his family. That’s more than u can say about Brad and his wife and 3 kids who live in Washington D.C. As for travel, the real question is why does Brad sit on the International Affairs Committee when he has no curiosity to meet leaders in their own countries. I don’t even think he’s been to Israel as part of a delegation. Part of job for being the ranking member on the International is to study international countries, and meet the leaders. Other wise you sit on a domestic committee, like Ways and Means, that’s jurisdiction is taxes.

  40. I see that neither Berman nor Sherman got the official Democratic Party endorsement at the state Democratic Convention last weekend. It must be difficult to reach 60 percent. I wonder if one of them joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus would have made a difference.

  41. avatar dndobson says:

    DPSFV (Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley) runs the largest GOTV effort in the state. Brad Sherman has been a good friend to DPSFV. Sherman wins. Also DPSFV and many of the local Democratic Clubs did endorse Brad outright. The pre-endorsement conference and the convention endorsement election are not predictors of how this district will vote, it just proved that Berman could pull in a lot of favors at the last minute to stack the delegates. Not that Sherman didn’t do the same, but Berman is clearly the favorite of the establishment democratic party here int he state. Frankly, that’s not a selling point in the minds of many.

    • avatar trojan2002 says:

      yes… DPSFV and other dem clubs have endorsed brad. But the comb got these endorsements because he has had his STAFF join these clubs and actively serve on their boards.
      He has spent the last 10 years giving them money and ball washing.
      That’s why.
      He’s been playing politics while pretending to be a congressman.
      Howard has been playing congressman and actually getting sh*t done.

      In the mind of the average voter who isn’t on this site, or a part of these politically corrupt groups, all that matters is who gets it done and that’s Howard.

  42. avatar Dem4Life says:

    I decided to go to the Jewish Journal debate tonight at Temple Judea. While all candidates had their high and low points, Howard Berman was definitely on his A-game talking substantively about the issues and highlighting his plethora of legislative accomplishments. While Brad is a solid orator, his answers were straight out of his stump speech and were therefore a little bit canned and shticky. He would dabble on the substance of the issues, but would quickly digress because he has made his #1 campaign priority bashing Howard over highlighting his own legislative accomplishments.

    One turning point: Brad’s endless attacks on Howard are beginning to turn stale. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s endorsement of Berman today really highlighted this–she was going to stay out of this race until Brad decided to wrongfully associate Howard with the pipeline accident in San Bruno. When you are willing to go that far, people simply don’t take you seriously anymore and the audience clearly detected a contrived nature to Brad’s attacks on Howard throughout the evening. It seemed like the only people who consistently cheered for Brad were his staffers (I can’t speak for the live broadcast in the social hall). Howard definitely came across as the adult in the room and many previously undecided voters noted this reality to me after the debate.

  43. avatar ValleyNative says:

    These are my bullet points from the second debate:

    1. Sherman said he’s responsible for HOV lane on 405. This strained credulity. The language and funding mechanism in the transportation bill was written and inserted by Berman. Sherman really thinks voters are ignorant apparently.

    2. Iran Sanctions. Anyone who can read a newspaper and comprehend what they read has seen Berman’s name attached to that bill that the WH did not want to be enacted, either separately or as part of the overall DOD bill.

    3. Libya. Most hilarious moment of the debate. Sherman was on FOX talking about this and he looks like a clown after he was proven wrong. As far as the constitutional aspect, he definitely implied that AMERICAN TROOPS were on the ground in LIBYA. I am sure the ACLU types in the crowed appreciated his remarks: all five of them.

    4. 30/10. How many people know what this is? It is about the only intelligent thing Mayor Tony has done. But when I hear “30/10,” I think it is the speed limit near a school when school is not in session and when it is. I bet 10 people there knew what 30/10 is. Sherman uses congressional lingo instead of understanding WHO HIS AUDIENCE IS. He brought the subject up by never explained what it is. See #5 below.

    5. “Bureaucratese, “Hillspeak,” jargon—Sherman is good at it and has a deep voice to use language the average person does not understand. Like MARK-UP.

    6. SHERMAN LIKES TO WRITE LETTERS! Berman formulates policies affecting foreign policy, national security, immigration and economic issues and is attentive to needs in the district. Meanwhile…SHERMAN WRITES LETTERS.

    • avatar trojan2002 says:

      Sherman, like I said in a previous comment, has spent his years in congress attaching himself to the representatives surrounding his district. He lets them do the work and then he adds his name. He’s a not serious person.
      Linda Sanchez was elected in 2002 and has more seniority than Sherman.
      It would be a disaster for the valley if we lose berman to have an ass clown like sherman.

  44. I heard there was supposed to be an audience straw poll at the debate at Temple Judea last night, but that Howard Berman requested for it to be cancelled, which it was. Anyone know anything about this. I remember that Sherman easily won the straw poll at the first debate last month at the Westfield Promenade Mall. As for the debate, I was able to hear Berman this time, he was too quiet at the first debate.

    • avatar trojan2002 says:

      I don’t understand why there would be a need for a straw poll. Both campaigns were asking for supporters to turn out for “support”.

  45. I noticed the Green Party is fielding a candidate in this race. I wonder know if the votes he gets will effect who makes the top 2 in the run-off, as far left progressive may go Green instead of for Berman or Sherman.

  46. The next debate between Sherman and Berman is on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 from 6PM to 9PM at the East Valley Adult Center: The address is 5060 Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, across from Corky’s Restaurant. It is sponsored by the Valley Democrats United, and holds 400 people. It should be a fascinating debate. By the way, 7 candidates are on the ballot for CD 30, 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans and a member of the Green Party.

  47. Sherman and Berman will both be debating tonight on KCRW, 89.9 FM at 7:00PM. I hope it’s a doozie!

  48. This article should be updated post June 5th primary results. Interesting that both Sherman and Berman both still refuse to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

  49. What does “done” mean? I would love to see some post primary analysis on the CD 30 race. EIther Sherman is the frontrunner because he won by 10 percentage points (9000 votes) OR the results show Sherman has peaked at a little over 40 percent and Berman will win in November. Something tells me Sherman will win in November. Berman should have run in the new CD 29 district.

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Sherman is definitely the frontrunner, although it will be a good race in November. Berman is running exactly where he should have run. One, he was essentially drafted by community leaders, primarily business people in key groups like the entertainment industry who felt that Sherman didn’t really understand their issues and argued that they needed Berman (The way Congress works is that you have a lot more influence over what happens in your district that you do in other areas) and two, Tony Cardenas frankly knows the 29th very well and is a fine representative. To top it all off, Berman lives in the 30th and has represented the whole district at some point in his political career, so he feels that he knows the district’s needs better than any other candidate. From a selfish perspective, you may be right that another seat might have been easier to win, but as I pointed out above, if Howard Berman was running for selfish reasons, he simply could have been a lobbyist and made big bucks. He is running to get things done that he believes in and this was the place where he could get the most done on the issues he cared about.

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