Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman was joking when he said that his campaign chose to photoshop his mother out of one campaign mailer but not the other, according a statement released by Sherman campaign spokesman John Schwada.
Here’s Schwada’s email—the subject was “Berman Campaign Can’t Take a Joke”—with links added:
Regarding the video of Congressman Sherman explaining the photo of his mother in his mailings, LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick got it right: “The Berman side seems to think that Sherman’s explanation to Dave Bryant of CBS/KCAL is a serious moment…I don’t agree. It actually reminds me of Sherman’s 2006 appearance on ‘The Colbert Report’ playing along as Stephen Colbert spoofs the Valley’s reputation for porn. Maybe the guy [Sherman] just has a dry sense of humor.”
The only video of this exchange was shot by the Berman campaign and by two TV stations. The TV stations have chosen not to air it - because they got Sherman’s joke. But the Berman people refused to see the humor and did everything possible to hide the fact that the reporters were laughing. The Berman campaign may have clever editors but they have no sense of humor.
Say what you will about Sherman’s joke to the TV cameras, but Roderick is exactly right about the Colbert clip being wonderful. I wonder if the fake TV newsman would describe Sherman’s sense of humor as being bone dry.
3.14.13 at 9:24 am | The veteran former congressman joins Covington &. . .
1.4.13 at 2:55 pm | Colleagues paid tribute in in the House chamber. . .
12.19.12 at 3:06 pm | In political campaigns, how and when a strategist. . .
12.12.12 at 12:22 pm | Sherman and Berman spent $40 for each registered. . .
11.12.12 at 11:22 pm | And this blogger scratches his head.
11.7.12 at 2:46 pm | The National Jewish Democratic Council sent this. . .
5.17.12 at 6:23 pm | Ah, Jews and their Yiddishe mamas. (4)
10.12.12 at 1:36 pm | On Friday, leaders in the movement for. . . (3)
9.25.12 at 12:02 pm | With the election six weeks away, the candidates. . . (3)
May 24, 2012 | 1:06 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) may or may not have been joking when he told a TV reporter recently that voters would choose him if they saw pictures of his family. But a new pro-Sherman ad that appears in the current print edition of the Jewish Journal suggests that the eight-term Congressman is relying less on images with his wife and three daughters (and in some cases his mother) and more on pictures of himself with top Israeli officials.
The full-page ad appears on the glossy inside back cover of the May 25 edition of the Jewish Journal. “Brad Sherman. A powerful advocate for Israel,” reads the text at the top of the ad, which includes photographs of Sherman with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The ad appears just days after Sherman told a TV reporter that his campaign’s decision to photoshop his mother out of a picture of his family sent to non-Jewish voters but leave her in the photo sent to Jewish voters was a way of drawing the press into publishing those pictures.
Days earlier, Sherman’s campaign spokesman explained the decision was made to clean up an “awkwardly composed” photo.
Sherman, answering a question from CBS/KCAL reporter Dave Bryan, said his campaign was “desperate to try to get the press to publish pictures of” his family and that they “scraped around to buy an ad in the Jewish Journal, because if people see my family they’re gonna vote for me.”
Sherman’s family doesn’t appear in the new ad in the Jewish Journal, which is aimed at burnishing his pro-Israel credentials.
“Brad Sherman is one of the strongest and most effective advocates for Israel in the United States Congress,” the ad’s text reads.
Such a description is sure to rankle Sherman’s primary opponent, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), who is also a strong supporter of Israel and is competing for the same pool of Jewish voters in the upcoming June 5 primary.
The Forward recently reported that prominent pro-Israel donors from around the country have donated to Berman’s campaign.
Berman also received a business leadership award from the Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce on May 23, in recognition of his work to extend to Israeli investors a type of visa that they had not previously been eligible for.
May 23, 2012 | 10:25 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
California’s June 5 primary election is less than two weeks away, and if you’re a registered voter who lives in California’s 30th congressional district in the West San Fernando Valley, chances are good that Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) are using the good old USPS to try to snag your vote.
Of course, there was the widely reported story about the recent Sherman mailer that either did or did not feature the candidate’s mother (and the conflicting explanations for why that happened), but turns out there’s more in the mailbag, from his opponent.
The Daily News noticed that the Berman campaign is using a little bait-and-switch to improve the chances that their direct mail solicitations for votes actually get read:
Berman catches a potential voter’s eye with campaign advertising that doesn’t look like campaign advertising. It’s a 7 1/2-by-4-inch envelope whose only lettering says: “JURY DUTY IS GOOD CITIZENSHIP.” A recipient might think: This could be a jury summons. Better open it and find out!
Likely Republican voters in the district also received another interesting piece of mail from the Berman campaign this month: a letter from former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, urging them to pick Howard over Brad.
After calling Berman “one of the best Congressmen in America,” Riordan closes his letter this way:
We Republicans are practical. The two party registration in your congressional district is 70% Democratic to 30% Republican. One of the two Democratic Congressmen who are running will surely win. Please don’t waste your vote! Make Howard Berman the one who wins!
When it landed in the mailbox of Susan Shelley, a Republican running in the open primary on June 5, she wasn’t too happy to hear the former mayor describing a vote for her as “wasted.”
“Former Mayor Riordan is free to support an incumbent Democrat if he so chooses,” Shelley said in an emailed statement, “but he should not mislead Los Angeles voters into thinking the Democrats are unbeatable. There are two Democratic incumbents who will split the Democratic vote in this district. If Republicans and independents vote for a Republican candidate, that candidate will finish in the top two.”
Shelley also had a quibble about Riordan’s math—she’d rather talk about the whole of the electorate (49 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 21 percent Decline-to-State). But Shelley’s analysis suggesting that a Republican could finish in the top two only holds up if there’s only one Republican running in Berman-Sherman land.
Unfortunately for Shelley, who I profiled in last week’s issue of the Jewish Journal, she’s one of three Republicans on the ballot, and the Sherman campaign’s poll from back in March (still the only poll that’s been released so far) shows her in fourth place, well behind the two incumbents, who finished in the top two spots.
Is there more interesting mail out there? Send it my way.
May 23, 2012 | 10:13 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Wait, why was Brad Sherman’s mother photoshopped out of a picture sent to non-Jewish voters?
Get your combs ready, because the story about why Lane Sherman, mother of the eight-term Democrat from Sherman Oaks, appeared in a photo sent to Jewish voters in the 30th district but not in the other version of the photo sent to non-Jewish voters, is about to provoke some renewed head-scratching.
Last week, we (and many others) reported that the Sherman campaign had sent out two different mailers with slightly different pictures of the Congressman and his family. And when Sherman spokesman John Schwada told a blogger for The Hill on May 17 that Sherman’s mother was photoshopped out of the “wider mailer” because the photo was “awkwardly composed,” the explanation seemed plausible.
But Sherman, who is running for reelection in the 30th District against Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), recently gave a different explanation: the whole thing was one big ploy to get the Sherman family portrait into the Jewish Journal.
The post continues after the jump.
Here’s what Sherman said, as best as I can make it out:
“We were almost desperate to try to get the press to publish pictures of my family. We sent them every kind of picture, they didn’t publish any. Then for a while we scraped around to buy an ad in the Jewish Journal, because if people see my family they’re gonna vote for me, no matter whether they see just my daughters, or my wife and my daughters, any version of that. And so we came up with a clever idea: We’ll publish the same picture in two different versions and so they’ll think they caught something and then they’ll publish, and the only way to cover the story is to publish the picture in both versions, and by God, we now have, without us paying for it, copies of pictures of myself and my family in the Jewish Journal and we hope in other publications as well. And we’ll be sending them to you so you can put them up on the air. “
For the record: I’ve talked a lot over the past 10 months with members of Sherman’s campaign staff and I’ve received countless emails from them. None included a photograph of the candidate’s family, though.
May 17, 2012 | 6:23 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
If you’re a Jewish voter in the West San Fernando Valley, Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) apparently wants you to know just how much he loves his mother.
Two recent mailers sent by the Sherman for Congress campaign to voters in the new 30th district included what might seem, at first glance, to be identical portraits of the candidate’s family. But on closer inspection, one of the photos is missing someone: Sherman’s mother, Lane Sherman.
According to a source close to Rep. Howard Berman’s campaign (because every candidate monitors their opponents’ mailers and advertisements) the mailer with mom went out to Jewish voters.
Here’s how Politico described it:
The mailer on the right is a play for the Jewish vote. Aside from the photo of his mother on the front, there’s a photo of the California congressman with Benjamin Netanyahu on the back, accompanied by the claim that he is a powerful advocate for Israel and a call for tough sanctions on Iran.
The other mailer, the one without mom, that one was for the goyim in the district (who apparently don’t love their mothers as much as Jews do).
According to LAObserved, Grandma Sherman was photoshopped out of the original photo, not in. (Which means she at least got to spend time with the mishpocha in the park.)
May 14, 2012 | 12:04 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) has a new ad that’s airing on cable TV (see the video here) in the Valley that attempts to draw a sharper distinction between himself and Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) in the race to represent the newly redrawn 30th congressional district in the West San Fernando Valley.
A “simple comparison spot,” is how Sherman’s chief campaign consultant Parke Skelton described the 30-second advertisement, which features people praising Sherman and hammering Berman on a variety of subjects, including his holding frequent town halls. The ad is notable because it includes direct criticisms of Berman, including for his “163 foreign junkets,” and contrasts Sherman’s standing up to the “Wall Street Bankers” with Berman’s vote “to bail them out.”
The ad should be familiar territory for anyone who has been following the series of debates between these candidates that have been held over recent months, and it reinforces the impression that Sherman will be spending the next three weeks before the June 5 primary—and the months until November, when the two incumbents are likely to face off again—trying to paint Berman as a Washington insider, out of touch with his district.
Meanwhile Berman, who has been in congress since 1983—and was recently praised by President Barack Obama for his knowledge of foreign policy and his “extraordinary leadership on so many issues,” is making the argument that he has been more effective in passing legislation than Sherman has.
“In sixteen years in Congress, Sherman has only authored three bills that have become law and two of those were naming post offices,” Berman campaign manager Brandon Hall said in an emailed statement after viewing the Sherman campaign’s recent advertisement. “All he can do is go negative.”
Sherman’s ad actually doesn’t go quite as negative as the candidate has in some of the debates, though.
The ad, for example, includes a young woman standing beside her car, saying that she “heard Berman charged taxpayers $186,000 to lease a car.”
“Sherman didn’t,” she adds.
But when Sherman asked Berman at a March 14 forum sponsored by the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce about that government car, he posed the question in a much sharper way, coming very close to implying that Berman was breaking House rules by driving a car paid for by the government while conducting personal errands or going to political events.
The ad, which was paid for by Sherman’s own campaign committee and concludes with a clip of the candidate saying that he “approves this message,” also holds back any mention of another subject frequently raised by Sherman and his campaign: Berman’s stance on so-called Super PACs, the independent expenditure groups that have supported his candidacy.
From their very first debate, Sherman has been pushing Berman to sign a pledge that would reduce or eliminate the influence of Super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to act on behalf of (or against) any candidate. At one point, there were three Super PACs that were supporting Berman’s candidacy; two of them have since ceased to operate.
Sherman’s campaign, which has been asking questions about the operations of those outside money groups for some time, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on May 7 asking the body charged with overseeing election financing to investigate the possibility that The Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman, a pro-Berman Super PAC, illegally coordinated its activities with Berman’s campaign.
The Sherman campaign’s complaint centers on one campaign consultant, Jerry Seedborg, who was employed by Berman’s own campaign at some point earlier this year and is also the founder and head of a company that contracted with the pro-Berman Super PAC.
According to experts in election law, the possibility of the FEC’s acting on the Sherman campaign’s complaint is a distant one.
“What counts technically as illegal ‘coordination’ under FEC rules is much narrower than what a person speaking the English language would consider coordination,” Rick Hasen, a professor of law at University of California, Irvine, said.
Hasen, who writes the Election Law Blog, said it was entirely plausible that the FEC could dismiss the complaint outright, but if they did find evidence of coordination, the Berman campaign could face a fine. In any event, no resolution should be expected before the election in November, although Hasen said the Sherman campaign still might make mention of its complaint.
“Candidates like to file complaints and then point to the complaints as evidence of their opponents’ wrongdoing,” Hasen said.
Will matters involving somewhat arcane campaign finance law really sway voters in this race?
According to press secretary John Schwada, the Sherman campaign thinks so, even though they didn’t raise the subject in the new TV ad.
When Sherman’s pollster surveyed Valley voters in late March, Schwada said, she asked them about their opinions on Super PACs.
“I would say it’s pretty damn negative,” Schwada said, describing the poll results.
The Sherman campaign declined to release those results, but a poll released last week by Democracy Corps, an independent, non-profit polling organization founded by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, found that a “significant majority (57 per-cent) [of voters nationwide] say that reducing the influence of money in politics and special interest lobbyists is one of the most important factors in deciding which candidate to vote for.”
May 10, 2012 | 8:43 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
For most Angelenos, President Barack Obama’s visit to Los Angeles for a fundraiser on May 10 at George Clooney’s house was a reason to stay as far away from the Hollywood Hills as possible.
For Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), who was invited by the President to join him for the ride to the fundraiser, the chance to get 15 minutes alone with Obama to talk about the various items on his legislative agenda was reason enough to fly back from Washington while Congress was in session.
“The Congressman will use this rare and important opportunity to speak with the President further about Iranian nuclear threats, the need for more police officers on Valley streets, and the importance of protecting entertainment industry jobs in the Valley,” said Berman’s campaign manager Brandon Hall in a statement.
Thursday was a regular day of work in the House, and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), who is facing Berman in a hotly contested battle for reelection, was in Washington, D.C., casting votes on a number of bills.
His campaign said Berman was “play[ing] hooky.”
“For Berman, it was more important that he be able to hobnob with donors who had paid $40,000 per person to attend this event, than to be at work voting on hotly contested bills to fund critical domestic programs, help close the revolving door between serving in Congress and lobbying Congress, and to protect women and children from violence,” Sherman campaign manager Parke Skelton, said in a press release.
Skelton, who said he learned that Berman would be at Clooney’s fundraiser from a post on Berman’s wife’s Facebook page, didn’t appear to know about Berman’s being invited to accompany Obama on the ride over.
The Berman campaign’s Hall said that Berman’s “access to leaders like President Obama is why he has an unmatched record of accomplishments for the Valley and the world.”
“It’s no wonder that Sherman doesn’t understand this,” Hall said in a statement, calling the criticism from the Sherman campaign a “gimmick.”
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, both Berman and Sherman were no-shows at a debate for candidates running for congress in the 29th and 30th districts held at Los Angeles Mission College, a community college in Sylmar. The Sherman campaign was represented by a staffer at the event; Berman’s campaign didn’t sent a representative.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who is running for congress in the 29th district, also did not participate.
The debate was organized in just the last few weeks and it was sparsely attended. The five other candidates running in the 30th district did speak, and all noted the incumbents’ absence.
“There are two things missing here today: Jobs and politicians who currently represent you,” said Susan Shelley, one of three Republican candidates running in the 30th district. “And I would suggest there is a connection. They are taking you for granted. They are not listening to your concerns.”
Over at LAObserved, Kevin Roderick called Obama’s offer of a ride “the next best thing” to an endorsement by Obama of Berman.
May 8, 2012 | 2:56 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
With California’s congressional primary election scheduled to take place on June 5, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) has won endorsements from the editorial boards of the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News.
As a result of redistricting, Berman, who has represented parts of the San Fernando Valley in Congress since 1983, is running for reelection against another incumbent Jewish Democratic Congressman, Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), who has been representing an adjacent valley district since 1997.
While the editorial boards of both papers acknowledged the service of both men to their constituents, each paper ultimately endorsed the more senior Berman, in part because his seniority brings with it increased clout in congress.
Berman has staked his candidacy on the argument that his legislative record demonstrates that he is the more effective lawmaker. Whether the message resonates with voters in the newly redrawn 30th district remains to be seen, but the pitch appears to have held sway with the papers’ editorial boards.
For good reason, say Berman’s backers (a group that now includes nonagenarian actress Betty White).
Former Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar recently weighed in on the argument over how much credit Sherman could take for the expansion of the 405 Freeway. Rejecting Sherman’s claim that without his efforts the 10 miles of HOV lanes would not have been built, Oberstar told BuzzFeed that Sherman is “right to say he supported it, and that’s fine, but the real driving force behind this project was Howard Berman.”
The Daily News endorsement, published on May 7, said that Berman “holds more power in Congress than Sherman,” even as it misidentified Berman as the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (he is the committee’s ranking Democrat) and neglected to mention that Sherman has declared his intent to bid for Berman’s post, should he win in November.
(If he does win, Sherman will have competition from multiple members of the committee. In April, JTA reported that Rep. Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, would also make a play for the title of ranking member, and in an op-ed in The Hill, Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from American Samoa on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has served on the committee for longer than both Sherman and Engel, said that he will also bid for the top position if Berman loses, but that he will back Berman from now until November.)
In its endorsement of Berman on April 30, the Times noted the congressman’s “long record of bipartisan achievement,” and his endorsements from “the overwhelming majority of the California Democratic congressional delegation, including both of the state’s U.S. senators, as well as by Gov. Jerry Brown.”
“[T]here is reason to believe that Howard Berman will be more effective in the years to come at serving the voters of his district,” the Times’ endorsement concluded.
Although California’s new open primary system now allows all voters to vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of party affiliation, Berman was not the only candidate to be endorsed by the Daily News. The paper’s editorial board pushed Republicans to back another Jewish candidate, Susan Shelley. A first-time candidate, Shelley is, the Daily News editorial board wrote, “moderate enough to get support from voters of all affiliations.”
The key word in that endorsement of Shelley—moderate—also appeared to have helped push the Daily News editorial board to back Berman. While Sherman has touted his opposition to free trade agreements and his fight to stop the passage of the Troubled Asset Recovery Program, positions certain to appeal to some in the 30th district’s electorate, Berman has presented himself as someone who can work across party lines. Accordingly, Berman has lined up the support of Los Angeles County’s two Republican supervisors, Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich, and got an endorsement of sorts from Rep. Darrell Issa (R - Vista) in April.