Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Jewish and non-, Los Angeles’s politicians were out in the packed pews of synagogues around Los Angeles these past couple of weeks.
California Gov. Jerry Brown may have commanded Yom Kippur’s highest profile gig, speaking about Prop. 30, his ballot initiative that would raise taxes to benefit public education across the state, at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills yesterday. But with a national election just weeks away and a mayoral contest that features a bunch of Jewish (and Jew-ish) candidates, elected officials were easy to find in synagogues around the city.
Including, of course, this blog’s favorite Jewish congressmen.
According to two reliable sources, Rep. Howard Berman spent Rosh Hashanah at his synagogue, Adat Ari El in Valley Village. Rep. Brad Sherman, meanwhile, made his way to Temple Judea in Tarzana on the first evening of Rosh Hashana, Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills the following morning and then to his own temple, Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, on the second day.
All four of those synagogues are in the new 30th district, which is being contested by the two Jewish Democratic incumbents.
Sherman “has been invited to Temple Judea and Temple Aliyah every year for the past 16 years to celebrate Rosh Hashana,” Sherman’s campaign press secretary, John Schwada, wrote in an email to the Journal.
According to a source close to the campaign of one candidate for Los Angeles mayor, pols go where they’re invited, and over the years, the invitations multiply, leading to tight itineraries this time of year.
Especially for pols seeking reelection. I’m told Rep. Henry Waxman, who is facing off against a tough opponent in Bill Bloomfield), was at Sinai Temple on Rosh Hashana’s second day (which is still in Waxman’s new coastal district, the 33rd), and LAObserved spotted him at Temple Israel of Hollywood (which isn’t in his district anymore) during the holiday as well.
Also spotted by LAObserved at Temple Israel was L.A. City Controller Wendy Gruel, who is running for Mayor. Gruel reportedly made it to services at University Synagogue on Sunset as well.
Another candidate for mayor, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, did a two-fer on the first day of Rosh Hashana, hitting the city’s oldest conservative synagogue, Sinai Temple, in the morning and making it to IKAR – one of the city’s youngest spiritual communities – for the latter half of services and lunch.
Full disclosure: This blogger is a member of IKAR, which is why he can report that the congregation also played host to the city’s current mayor on Yom Kippur; Antonio Villaraigosa led the congregation in the prayer for the United States and its leaders.
Any other sightings? Tweet with the hashtag #LAHighHolsPols, or just post in the comments section.
Happy New Year, y’all.
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. . .
10.12.12 at 1:36 pm | On Friday, leaders in the movement for. . . (5)
9.25.12 at 12:02 pm | With the election six weeks away, the candidates. . . (3)
11.7.12 at 2:46 pm | The National Jewish Democratic Council sent this. . . (3)
September 25, 2012 | 12:02 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
At a debate on Tuesday morning, Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman each put forward – yet again – the reasons why each feels they should be sent back to Washington, D.C., for another term in office.
The debate, sponsored by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA), allowed the two candidates to present their positions on issues including job creation, trade policy and health care reform to their business-focused hosts. In many instances, the two candidates explicitly stated that they were in agreement on certain matters.
But the best illustration of the choice facing voters in the 30th district this November – when the two Democratic congressmen, who have similar voting records, will face off against one another in a runoff election – came during their back and forth over how to best protect intellectual property from digital piracy.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a law backed by Hollywood that critics contended would have “broken the Internet,” was roundly defeated in the court of public opinion in early 2012. But in this race, the debate is still raging.
Sherman, who co-sponsored the legislation and said he agreed with its objectives, said the lawmakers had written the legislation in a way that played into its opponents’ arguments.
“It was the worst script since ‘Ishtar,’” Sherman said, winning a few laughs from the 75 or so VICA members in attendance. “It was the worst rollout since Edsel.”
Berman, who is often referred to as “the Congressman from Hollywood” thanks to his advocacy for entertainment industry interests, and also co-sponsored the legislation, defended SOPA, calling the opponents’ arguments “bogus.” He went on to accuse Sherman of kowtowing to public opinion, and said that Republican Congressman Darell Issa, who forcefully opposed the legislation, endorsed Berman in April specifically because he was confident that he and Berman could “go into a closed room and ... work out the differences on SOPA to provide something effective to deal with the scourge of digital theft.”
Sherman wasted no time in rebutting Berman’s attack, saying that what congressmen needed to do was listen to the American people. “You can’t go into a closed room with Darrell Issa write a bill and figure it’s going to pass,” Sherman said.
And that, in a nutshell, is part of what’s at stake in this unusual race.
Sherman presents himself as the one who listens to the Valley, often expressing populist sentiments that don’t always get translated into law or policy, but have, Sherman argues, impacted law by ensuring that certain bad policies don't get enacted. When Sherman touts his supporters, he often does so in bulk, mentioning that he has the support of every elected official who lives in the West San Fernando Valley district (save one, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, who once worked for Berman).
Berman, meanwhile, is – still, despite the changes in his campaign’s direction -- making an insider’s argument that he is a more effective legislator than Sherman. On Tuesday, he listed some of his endorsers collectively – most of the Congressional representatives from around the district have sided with him – but he listed each of the five Senators backing him by name.
If Berman is making a qualitative argument – he used his closing statement on Tuesday morning to mention his having won endorsements from both the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News – Sherman is making a quantitative one. He opened by citing numbers from polls that show he’s still ahead in this race. An independent poll taken earlier this month showed him 13 points ahead of Berman.
Berman has always maintained that this race would be an uphill battle, and Brandon Hall, his campaign manager, acknowledged that even at this late date, that’s still the case, and cited the campaign’s internal, unreleased polling as evidence.
“We’ll concede that we’re still trailing,” Hall said on Tuesday morning. “But it’s single digits.”
The election is six weeks -- 42 days -- away.
September 21, 2012 | 12:02 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
With less than two months until Election Day and only three weeks before early voting begins, Rep. Brad Sherman is still polling well ahead of Rep. Howard Berman.
According to a poll conducted earlier this week for KABC and first reported on Sept. 20, 45 percent of voters would cast ballots for Sherman, as compared to 32 percent who said they’d go for Berman.
Nearly a quarter of voters – 23 percent -- still hadn’t decided between the two Jewish Democrats, who were thrown into the same district by last year’s redistricting process.
The poll, conducted by hyper-local polling firm SurveyUSA, surveyed 628 likely voters in the new 30th Congressional district in the West San Fernando Valley and found that although both candidates are well-liked, Sherman is seen as more focused on the needs of Valley residents than Berman is, and is considered to be a more effective legislator by voters.
That latter finding is bound to rankle the Berman campaign, which has been working to make the case that Berman, who has been in Congress for three decades, is more effective than Sherman, who was first elected in 1996.
Sherman has been running ahead in the race for the 30th district since 2011, when it became clear that the two long-serving legislators would be running against one another. The new survey’s results appear to confirm the results of earlier polls conducted by the Sherman campaign and aren’t all that different from the results of the June primary, in which Sherman finished first with 42 percent of the vote and Berman finished second with 32 percent.
The Sherman campaign hailed the poll results as demonstrating that voters had not been persuaded by the Berman campaign, which has publicized Berman’s many endorsements by high-profile lawmakers from both parties and, in recent months, has launched a series of attacks on Sherman.
“They know Brad,” Parke Skelton, the Sherman campaign’s chief strategist, said in a statement on Friday morning. “They know he shares their Valley values and that he will make their voices heard on national issues.”
Berman recently won the endorsement of the Los Angeles Daily News editorial board, and his campaign manager Brandon Hall said that despite the poll’s results, he remained confident that the race is “very close.”
“By every measure, Howard Berman is a more effective Congressman who delivers for the Valley like no one else,” Hall wrote in an email to The Journal. “Brad Sherman’s pinnacle accomplishment is naming a post office. By Election Day, voters will understand this difference very clearly.”
In the June primary, almost one-quarter of voters chose one of a number of Republican candidates. No Republican will appear on the ballot in November, and both Berman and Sherman have been working hard to win over GOP supporters.
Republicans, according to the KABC poll, are going Sherman’s way, as are voters in every other category. Men and women as well as voters of all ages, races, income levels and party affiliations went for Sherman.
The poll also showed Sherman leading Berman among voters of all religions. Among Jewish voters, his lead was smallest, taking 43 percent to Berman’s 38 percent, a result that diverges significantly from an earlier study analyzing the primary results that found Berman “decisively” beat Sherman among Jewish voters.
September 18, 2012 | 12:49 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Happy New Year, dear Jewish readers! Anyone see a Congressman (or two) in synagogue this Rosh Hashanah?
This won’t be quite like the usual business on this blog. Unlike every other post, this one won’t be primarily about the race between Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman. Instead, let’s talk about the latest fad this campaign season: partisan lawmakers citing their willingness to work across the aisle.
On Sunday, the New York Times cast a sideways glance at the Republicans who are trotting out this argument. (Remember Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed nominee who knocked Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar out of the race for his own Senate seat by attacking Lugar as too bipartisan? He now says he’ll “work with anyone.”)
In the 30th district, the two long-serving Republican Senators who endorsed Berman earlier this month both used the B-word in their statements. (Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) praised Berman’s “bipartisan leadership,” while Sen. John McCain (R – Ariz.) used the word two times in four sentences.)
This despite the National Journal ranking Berman the 69th most liberal member of Congress in 2011, more liberal than 360 of his colleagues, including Sherman, who was merely the 85th most liberal member based on his 2011 votes.
The Sherman campaign has its own Republican supporters – local elected officials, including Los Angeles City Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Dennis Zine – but they weren’t enough to convince the Daily News editorial board of Sherman’s bipartisan chops. In its endorsement of Berman last week, the paper said that his “most important quality” was his being better at “show[ing] more cooperation and less partisanship.”
Ah, bipartisanship. Everyone wants to claim they are – or will be – good at it, including another local congressional candidate, Bill Bloomfield. The Republican-turned-Independent is running against Henry Waxman, and Bloomfield’s largely self-funded campaign hinges on the argument that “hyper-partisanship” is what’s causing the gridlock in Washington.
I interviewed Bloomfield not too long ago for an article about the race. Sitting in his campaign office, he told me that if elected, he’d not caucus with either party, and that he’d like to overhaul the tax code by starting effectively from scratch.
Ambitious words from a would-be freshman congressman, and very bipartisan-sounding, to boot.
But when I asked Bloomfield, who has never before held public office, how he would’ve voted on the Affordable Care Act, he declined to say how he would have voted.
Bipartisanship is easy to talk about during campaign season. Should be interesting to see if the folks in Washington can manage some of that on Nov. 7.
September 11, 2012 | 3:11 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
When Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Joe Lieberman announced on Monday that they were going to support Rep. Howard Berman in his race against fellow Democrat, Rep. Brad Sherman, the press couldn’t stop talking about “unusual,” “rare,” and “surprising” it was to see Republicans taking sides in a race between two Democrats.
It's all about attracting GOP votes in the majority Democratic 30th District; Berman finished 10 points behind Sherman in the June primary; that contest included a number of Republican candidates who won't be on the ballot in November.
But back to yesterday's "surprising" news: The best lede of the bunch came from The Hill’s Cameron Joseph, who called the endorsements “the latest example of the strange-bedfellows game California's new all-party primary has created.”
California is a weird and interesting place to watch politics these days (and not just in the 30th district – but more on that in the pages of the Journal later this week.)
What the Senators said about Berman (circulated to press by the Berman campaign) is stuff we’ve heard before – though, admittedly, these talking points have usually come from Democrats.
Graham, Republican of South Carolina, praised Berman’s bipartisanship, and called him “instrumental in passing laws to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, stop arms sales to nations that support terrorism, and keep our country safe.”
The independent Lieberman, of Connecticut, in a line sure to infuriate Sherman and his supporters, credited Berman with leading “the fight to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons -- working across the aisle to pass the toughest Iran sanctions in history.”
“When Israel's leadership needs a friend in Congress,” Lieberman added, “that ally is Howard Berman.”
McCain, Republican of Arizona, also praised Berman’s “bipartisan” work “on issues ranging from human rights to missile defense,” even using the E-Word (“effectiveness”) to describe Berman’s record.
Strange bedfellows? Yes, although I’d have to say that Barney Frank’s takedown of Sherman was stranger, still.
And apparently, the conference call Frank did with reporters in early August wasn’t the only setting in which he assailed Sherman on Berman’s behalf. The retiring Congressman from Massachusetts was in Southern California not too long ago for a Berman fundraiser.
Rep. Henry Waxman, a longtime friend of Berman’s, was at the fundraiser, and told me that what Frank said amounted to this: “Berman ... gets things done, is not trying to get the limelight, but accomplish important things. To have him punished by electing a guy who just takes cheap shots all the time, sends a signal that cheap shots are more important than good hard legislative work.”
Which reminds me: When Berman’s new campaign manager, Brandon Hall, took over, the campaign launched a Web site dedicated to bashing Sherman.
That site was supposed to be updated every Monday, and yet yesterday was the fourth straight Monday (including the Labor Day holiday) with no nasty news item.
Could the Berman campaign be moving back to its primary strategy, when Berman was ran on his “effectiveness?”
Or is it, as Sherman’s chief consultant put it in an email to reporters back in August, that Berman has simply “run out of mud to sling?”
Who’s to say what next Monday might bring?