Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Windows of houses in Holmby Hills have been rattled. Horses near Glendale have been spooked. A recent Beethoven concert at the Hollywood Bowl was all but ruined.
These are among the annoyances that have been caused by noise from helicopters, which was the subject of a community hearing held in Sherman Oaks on Aug. 6.
Organized by Rep. Howard Berman, the hearing was designed to provide a forum for elected officials, representatives of homeowners’ groups and ordinary citizens from neighborhoods all over Los Angeles to urge representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish and enforce guidelines to minimize the disturbances caused by loud, low-flying helicopters to local residents.
Berman, who presided over the hearing at Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks, sponsored H.R, 2677, which would force the FAA to use its existing legal authority to restrict helicopter flight paths and set minimum altitudes within 12 months of its being signed into law.
“Without sensible regulation,” Berman said on Monday evening, “it is literally the wild west in our skies.”
Berman introduced his bill in late July 2011, just weeks after the weekend closure of the 405 freeway known as “Carmaggeddon.” Throughout that weekend, numerous media helicopters and helicopter tour operators circled and hovered over the closed stretch of freeway.
A second weekend-long closure of the same stretch of freeway is planned for late September.
Berman’s bill, which would allow the FAA to grant exemptions to helicopters associated with law enforcement, emergency responders, and the US military, has not yet advanced beyond the committee. In December Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), together with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D – CA), introduced a companion bill to Berman’s in the Senate.
Monday’s hearing featured one speaker after another offering their first-hand accounts of what they perceived to be an increase in helicopter traffic and a increasing brazenness on the part of helicopter pilots in their disregard for the voluntary guidelines outlined by helicopter trade groups.
Bob Anderson, a member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association’s board of directors, said any self-imposed industry guidelines were insufficient.
“Our members do not trust voluntary action,” he said, addressing his comments directly to FAA regional administrator Bill Withycombe, who was seated on the stage at the front of the auditorium. “Enough of that. We need enforceable legal restrictions, right now.”
Many in the had affixed yellow stickers on their shirts that featured a helicopter with a red circle and a diagonal line through it.
The evening’s most memorable moment came during remarks from Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. After briefly describing the impact that noise from helicopters has had on his life and the lives of his constituents, Yaroslavsky turned to the most recent “outrage” caused by a low-flying helicopter: interrupting a performance of Beethoven that took place at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 2.
“Anybody who was at that concert will never forget it,” Yaroslavsky said, and then played a short segment from a recording taken at the concert. Over the sound of a violin, the thwap-thwap-thwap of a helicopter could be clearly heard.
Yaroslavsky said the helicopter was much louder the night of the concert. “It was impossible to hear the violinist on stage,” he said.
One defender of helicopters did have a chance to speak at the hearing. Arnold Kleiner, the general manager of KABC, is a constituent in Berman’s district. Unlike the rest of the speakers who addressed their comments toward the two FAA officials seated on the stage, Kleiner faced the audience as he explained that where his company’s helicopter flies isn’t always their own choice, that people depend upon their news coverage on a daily basis and that the KABC helicopter is clearly marked with the number seven in multiple places, including on the underside of the aircraft.
“If you can’t see it’s channel seven,” Kleiner said, “it’s because we’re so high.”
But those in the audience – many of them from Los Angeles County’s toniest neighborhoods, including Holmby Hills, Westwood and Palos Verdes Estates – were as critical of media helicopters as they were of the aircraft that offer tours of Los Angeles from above.
Many who spoke mentioned helicopters buzzing around the houses of celebrities – among them Lindsay Lohan—although some in the audience had clearly been harboring complaints about helicopters for a very long time.
“I know you’ve heard about Lindsay Lohan and Carmaggeddon, but the mother of all helicopter noise occurred in the mid-90s when O.J. Simpson went to court every day,” Donald Keller, vice president of the Brentwood Homeowners Association, said in his testimony.
Among those who attended Monday evening’s hearing were two of the co-sponsors to Berman’s bill: Rep. Adam Schiff (D – Pasadena) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D – Sherman Oaks).
Sherman, who is facing off against Berman in a fierce Democrat v. Democrat race for reelection this November, was the first person to speak from the floor. He thanked Berman (though not by name) for arranging the hearing, and urged the FAA officials to use their legal authority to regulate helicopter traffic over Los Angeles.
Sherman was also the first of the elected officials in attendance to leave the hearing. He announced during his remarks that he was leaving in order to join members of the local Sikh community to honor the victims of Sunday’s deadly shooting in Wisconsin.
3.14.13 at 9:24 am | The veteran former congressman joins Covington &. . .
1.4.13 at 3:55 pm | Colleagues paid tribute in in the House chamber. . .
12.19.12 at 4:06 pm | In political campaigns, how and when a strategist. . .
12.12.12 at 1:22 pm | Sherman and Berman spent $40 for each registered. . .
11.13.12 at 12:22 am | And this blogger scratches his head.
11.7.12 at 3:46 pm | The National Jewish Democratic Council sent this. . .
6.13.12 at 2:56 pm | This November, Allan Hoffman is going to have a. . . (6)
3.14.13 at 9:24 am | The veteran former congressman joins Covington &. . . (3)
3.15.12 at 1:04 pm | One incumbent Jewish Dem endorses another. . . (2)
August 5, 2012 | 11:52 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Congress is in recess, which means it’s town hall season—especially for voters in the West San Fernando Valley.
Rep. Brad Sherman addressed more than 200 of his constituents at The Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies at a town hall on Sunday afternoon, August 5. Six days earlier, Rep. Howard Berman had almost 200 in the auditorium at North Hollywood High School for what he called a “community meeting.”
As nearly everyone I spoke with at these town halls already knew, Berman and Sherman, both relatively liberal, Jewish, Democratic incumbents, are running against one another this November, a result of redistricting.
Redistricting is also to blame for the disclosure Berman made at the start of his town hall. Berman explained that the invitation to the event had initially gone out to the people he hopes to represent – voters who live in the newly drawn 30th Congressional District – and not to those voters he currently represents.
That was, in Berman’s words, “a no-no,” and Berman said he had paid back the treasury the amount of taxpayer dollars he had spent “the moment [he] found out, which was about four days” before the event. That solution wasn’t sufficient for Sherman’s campaign though, which called Berman’s disclosure “half-hearted,” and accused him of also making illegal robo-calls to voters in the new 30th district to promote another public event.
Sherman, who currently represents the majority of the new district – and beat Berman by 10 percentage points in the June primary—has held more than 161 town halls over the last 15 years. That’s a rate of almost one every month that he’s been in Congress, and it’s been a central part of his argument to voters as to why he deserves another term.
The impending Berman-Sherman runoff was off limits at these events (which isn’t to say it didn’t come up) but even though the public forums are intended as venues for public questions about policy and for individuals to make complaints about what they see as the shortcomings of government, more than a few attendees confessed to feeling unsatisfied.
Elisa Merva, a 30-year-old Navy veteran who came to Berman’s community meeting to voice her frustration with the service she’d experienced at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. Berman responded to her question by talking about his efforts to keep the VA hospital on the Valley-based Sepulveda campus, but Merva said found the congressman’s response to be “vauge.”
“To be honest, I feel that this is an issue that he’s completely uneducated on,” Merva said.
Berman did have his fair share of fans in the audience on Monday evening. Leila Shiralian spoke immediately after Merva, and she cried while praising the member of Berman’s staff who had been helping her and her husband negotiate and work with the Small Business Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and other governmental agencies.
Shiralian, who is in hoping to solve her problem through the court system, said she came to the town hall only to be heard by the congressman.
“I wanted him to take [my story] back to D.C.,” she said.
On Sunday, meanwhile, Diane and Alan Kimmel, Jewish registered Republicans who live in Tarzana and have lived in Sherman’s district for as long as he’s represented it, came to their first town hall in order to better decide whether to vote for Sherman or Berman.
“He’s nice enough, but I guess, I don’t know,” Diane Kimmel said. “We like the fact that I think he’s pretty strong on Israel.”
(As a side note, which way the Republicans in the 30th district will go may still be an open question, but I’ve yet to meet a Jewish Republican who’s not solidly backing Sherman, a result, most likely, of his willingness to buck the Obama administration, particularly on the subject of Iranian sanctions.)
Town halls are always a good place to spot gadflies – you know the type – the ones who show up, often with a pad of paper in hand, to ask questions that almost always are met with a salvo of boos or, better yet, elicit the kind of applause designed to drown out even the most insistent speaker.
Berman was faced last Monday evening with someone asking for “answers on President Obama’s citizenship.
Berman’s quick retort: “I thought a birth certificate was a pretty good answer.”
Sherman, meanwhile, has perfected the art of giving answers that are simultaneously polite and dismissive.
On Sunday, a white man with a halo of white hair complained that the Democratic party’s policy on immigration was “changing our demographics,” and asked Congressman Sherman to “admonish the immigrants not to have children” until they can afford to pay to support those children.
When the audience’s laughter died down, Sherman answered the question semi-seriously. First, he talked about the 1960s, when the United States had a policy of racial quotas for the numbers of legal immigrants who could enter the country. Then, after declaring that he thought, “the cultural diversity of this country is a fine thing,” Sherman said he couldn’t tell immigrants not to have children.
“I’ve had three in the last three years so I’d be really terrible as a poster child for that,” he said.
On Monday, Aug. 6, Berman is scheduled to hold a public hearing in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration on helicopter noise in the Valley at Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks. The hearing begins at 6:30 p.m., and is expected to last two hours.
On Sunday, Aug 26, Sherman will hold a second general town hall meeting at Birmingham High School (17000 Haynes St., Lake Balboa, CA), from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
July 25, 2012 | 3:40 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
In the first big move since promoting a new senior strategist to lead Rep. Howard Berman’s bid for reelection, the Berman campaign went negative today, launching a new website attacking opponent Rep. Brad Sherman for what it called his “dismal record.”
On a new website launched today, BradShermanFacts.com, the Berman campaign is hoping to drive home for voters the message that Sherman, who has been in congress since 1997, has accomplished very little during that time.
It’s a message that Berman and his allies have been reiterating with increasing frequency since these two congressmen were redistricted into a head-to-head race for reelection last year.
But while many of the attacks on Sherman laid out on the Berman campaign’s new website were familiar, it also included one new charge – that Sherman has “tried to pad his resume” by arranging for his name to be added as a co-sponsor to bills that appear likely to pass.
Backing up that accusation is an internal email dictated by Sherman and sent to his legislative staff in December 2011. In the email, which is posted on the Berman campaign’s new website, Sherman encourages members of his staff to bring to his attention bills that have passed through committee “with significant Democratic support” so that he could consider whether or not to sign on as a co-sponsor.
The Berman campaign characterized this strategy as “leading from behind.” In a statement announcing the launch of the website, Brandon Hall, the senior strategist who took full charge of the Berman campaign earlier this month, said that Sherman “has shown zero leadership as a member of Congress.”
“Instead of putting some real thought into delivering for the Valley,” Hall said, “Sherman simply instructs his staff to look for legislation to tack his name onto. That isn’t the kind of leader Valley residents are looking for.”
But Sherman campaign consultant Parke Skelton called the email unremarkable.
“I don’t understand what the big deal is,” Skelton said, noting that Sherman had long asked his staff to “identify good bipartisan legislation that he can assess and decide whether to co-sponsor and work to pass on the floor.”
The new website also restates an old charge—that “two of the three bills [Sherman has] passed into law simply assigned names to local post offices.”
Skelton, meanwhile, said that Berman had co-sponsored Sherman’s bills renaming post offices. Bills renaming post offices, Skelton said, must have every representative from the state signed on as a co-sponsor in order to advance, and added that Berman himself had co-sponsored at least 53 such bills while in Congress.
Skelton speculated that Berman, who finished nearly 10 percentage points behind Sherman in the June primary election, “must be getting pretty desperate.”
Berman and his allies have been attacking Sherman for his limited record of sponsoring successful legislation for some time, but the intensity with which the charge is now being leveled is new. The new website appears to mark a shift in tone for the Berman campaign, which had been led by Berman’s brother, political consultant Michael Berman, until Hall took the reins earlier this month.
While BradShermanFacts.com is singularly focused on presenting Berman’s opponent in the worst possible light, Berman’s campaign, under Michael Berman’s leadership, held an “accomplishments tour” of the Valley for reporters to draw attention to the positive impacts Howard Berman has had in his 30 years in Congress.
According to the Berman campaign, the new website will be updated with new material every Monday.
Skelton played down the significance of today’s release.
“If they’ve uncovered a mass trove of Brad Sherman documents, I hope there’s something better than that in there,” he said.
July 20, 2012 | 5:32 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
When November finally rolls around, there will be some hugely important choices to make.
Aside from the obvious one—Presidential election, anyone?—there are also some big decisions for voters to make on the 11 state propositions that will appear on the California ballot. Should the state raise taxes to help avoid cuts in education? How about repealing the death penalty, or requiring producers of genetically modified foods to label them as such? And should the state prevent unions from using the dues they collect by deducting from members’ payrolls for political activities?
These are major questions that could have potentially state-changing (or industry changing) impacts.
But what about voters in the West San Fernando Valley facing a choice between Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman? With substantive differences between the two lawmakers few and far between, is this race really that important?
Talk to the partisans who’ve picked a side—and I have, repeatedly—and they’ll portray the choice between Howard and Brad as a hugely significant one, on par with any congressional race in recent memory.
But Scott Lay, a former Democratic party activist based in Sacramento who publishes “The Nooner,” a daily newsletter about California politics and policy, doesn’t buy the argument that these two Democrats “couldn’t be more different.”
“I think it’s important for the movie/recording industry in terms of having a BFF in Congress,” Lay wrote to The Journal in an email, referring to Berman’s role as the so-called Congressman from Hollywood. “That said, the differential on actual policy votes is probably less than 2%.”
Since 2007, Lay wrote in a recent edition of his newsletter, Berman and Sherman had voted together 97 percent of the time, and voted with the caucus 95 percent of the time. (To do that analysis, Lay used a Web site – something that Congressman Henry Waxman would likely disapprove of.)
Even if they vote similarly, don’t Berman and Sherman focus their attentions on different subjects?
“Yes, legislative priorities in your congressman is important,” Lay wrote, “but let’s face it that neither -erman will be driving policy in Washington, particularly since Democrats have almost no chance of recapturing the House in November.”
That said, Lay is paying attention to the race. He recently named the 30th district as the “most interesting” congressional contest in California.
“It’s most interesting because of the story that played out over the last year,” Lay wrote, “with the strong behind-the-scenes push to get Sherman to run in Ventura, along with the fact that Michael Berman always protected Howard as he was the major player in congressional redistricting over the years.”
Both campaigns will face a challenge in November—not just getting voters to the polls, but getting them to stick around and actually cast ballots in this congressional race. Because while “interesting” may attract news coverage, only “important” races fire up voters.
July 16, 2012 | 5:08 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Is it just me, or does the Berman v. Sherman news from this weekend feel very familiar?
Take news item number one, the somewhat confusing – and effectively meaningless – gesture of support the more senior Rep. Howard Berman received from the California Democratic Party this weekend, when 58.5 percent of the delegates voting this weekend backed him, as compared to the 23.4 percent of delegates who backed Rep. Brad Sherman.
A candidate would’ve needed to win 60 percent of the delegates to get the Democratic Party’s endorsement in the race between these two veteran Democrats. (The party didn’t endorse in the primary, either; the delegates voted in February in almost exactly the opposite way, with Sherman taking 53 percent of the delegate vote and failing to win the party’s nomination.)
A divided Democratic Party: check.
But wait! Could the campaign finance filings provide some twist we’ve not yet seen?
Not quite. The recently released financial reports show that Sherman, despite raising only half of what Berman raised in the period between May 17 and June 30 ($170,000 to Berman’s $355,000), still has an overwhelming cash advantage going forward. Sherman has just over $3 million to spend ($700,000 of which takes the form of loans from the candidate to his campaign).
The Berman campaign, meanwhile, has about $445,000 on hand (and about $100,000 in various outstanding debts), and the only pro-Berman Super-PAC left standing, the Committee to Elect An Effective Valley Congressman, declared $7,800 in cash on hand and $48,000 in outstanding debt.
It feels like it’s been February 2nd – sorry, I mean June 5th—for a month already, since little has changed since Sherman won the June primary, by a significant margin. Heck, the best new story this month was one about Sherman’s affinity for taxpayer-funded mail.
Even the spin-filled press releases – I mean, explanatory emails – coming from the campaigns sound, well, almost predictable. The Sherman campaign explained Berman’s strong finish in the vote this past weekend as a result of his clout with high-ranking Democratic elected officials. And Berman’s campaign issued a press release saying that it “already has two-dozen upcoming fund-raising events scheduled.”
Let’s try an exercise; I’ll list two facts, and you come up with each campaign’s talking point. Ready?
- Today, Sherman’s D.C. office announced that on the first Sunday of the August recess, the Congressman from Sherman Oaks will be holding his umpteenth*** Town Hall meeting of his 15 years in Congress.
- Berman has sponsored 19 resolutions in the current two-year session of Congress, one of which has been passed, a law that extends a special class of visas for immigrant investors to Israelis. Sherman hasn’t seen any of the nine resolutions he sponsored become law this session. (He did introduce five amendments, though—four of which were agreed to. None had anything to do with post offices. )
Will the outcome in November be different than June? Will Berman be able to catch up to Sherman’s cash advantage? How many more town halls will Sherman hold between now and June?
How should I know? I’m not a God…
***I don’t know the exact number, but it’s somewhere between 160 and 170.
July 5, 2012 | 11:30 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Eve Kurtin didn’t intend to take a side in the race between Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman.
In mid-2011, right around the time it became clear these two Jewish, pro-Israel Democrats would be running against one another for reelection in the newly drawn 30th Congressional District that includes her neighborhood of Mulholland Estates, Kurtin contributed $500 to each candidate’s campaign committee.
Then Sherman began criticizing Berman.
One TV ad from the Sherman campaign presented in a negative light the 163 foreign trips taken by Berman, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, during his nearly three decades in office. The same ad took Berman to task for “charging taxpayers $186,000 to lease a car,” a perk congressmen are entitled to, but of which Sherman has not availed himself. That sum, according to the Berman campaign, includes spending dating back to the 1980s.
“Really distasteful,” Kurtin said of Sherman’s attacks. “If it’s not a blatant lie, it is absolutely an insult and a distortion of the facts.” In May 2012, right around the time Sherman’s ad first aired, Kurtin donated an additional $1,000 to Berman.
A former president of Stephen S. Wise Temple, Kurtin was involved in getting her Reform synagogue more involved in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); Kurtin joins a chorus of prominent donors affiliated with pro-Israel groups who have rallied behind Berman.
Three former AIPAC presidents — Howard Friedman of Baltimore, Amy Friedkin of San Francisco and Robert Asher of Chicago — have donated to Berman. Other notable pro-Israel donors from across the country have given to Berman’s campaign at fundraisers headlined by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as well as Dennis Ross, who served as an adviser to President Barack Obama on Middle East affairs.
Many prominent Jewish donors from around Los Angeles have donated to Berman as well, and among Jewish voters in the 30th District, Berman’s support also appears to be stronger than Sherman’s. In the June primary, Sherman finished 10 points ahead of Berman, with 41 percent of the vote, but among Jewish voters, Berman came out ahead, according to a study conducted by political consultant Paul Mitchell.
Many Jewish and pro-Israel donors have decided not to take a side in this battle between incumbents, and more than a few have written checks to both candidates. But as the campaigns look ahead toward November, some who might have stayed neutral are picking sides.
“Brad Sherman is a nice guy, I’ve supported him, but he’s just another vote,” said Larry Weinberg of Beverly Hills, who is considered the father of modern-day AIPAC. “Howard is not just a leader; he is perhaps the most influential leader in the House, as far as the U.S.-Israel relationship is concerned.”
Like others interviewed for this article, Weinberg was careful to mention that AIPAC does not rate or endorse candidates, and that he was speaking for himself, not for any organization.
In an interview with The Journal, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder of The Israel Project, came out in favor of Sherman, instantly becoming the most prominent pro-Israel voice to endorse Sherman to date. (Other Sherman supporters reached for this article were unwilling to speak on the record.)
Mizrahi doesn’t dispute Berman’s seniority; indeed, she thinks his stature has cowed donors into supporting him.
“The fact is that Howard Berman has tremendous power, and sometimes people are afraid to speak truth to power,” Mizrahi said.
Mizrahi recently stepped down after 10 years as president of The Israel Project to launch her own public relations and government affairs firm. Mizrahi said she was speaking only as an individual and not for the global Israel advocacy organization she founded.
Mizrahi is a close friend of Sherman, and Sherman established The Israel Project’s board of advisers, of which Berman has since become a member. Mizrahi said she prefers Sherman’s policies vis-à-vis Israel —specifically on Iranian sanctions and on the strategies that might lead to a peaceful two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — over Berman’s.
“I can tell you, as someone who cares deeply about peace in the Middle East, that it’s time for new leadership,” Mizrahi said. “Brad Sherman would be a better chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee should the Democrats come back into power.”
If Sherman wins in November, attaining Berman’s spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee will not be automatic. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York has also said he would vie for the role of chairman, or ranking Democrat, should the Republicans maintain their majority in Congress.
Donna Bojarsky, an unpaid adviser to the Berman campaign, wondered whether Sherman is qualified for the committee position.
“When Israelis come to town, Howard gets the call,” she said, adding that when Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz visited Washington, D.C., in June, the only Congressional office he visited was Berman’s.
“Brad isn’t even in any of those rooms,” Bojarsky said. “How does he want to be chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee if he doesn’t have any of the necessary relationships or experience?”
While Berman backers are far more likely to cite his style of diplomatic, behind-the-scenes deal-making as a reason he won their support, Sherman’s supporters appreciate what they see as Sherman’s much more public — and some say aggressive — approach.
By way of illustration, Sherman supporters regularly point to each congressman’s record regarding Iranian sanctions.
Berman sponsored the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, a bill that instituted multilateral sanctions targeting companies that support Iran’s energy sector and against financial institutions that support Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. To get it passed, Berman worked with the Obama administration to ensure that Russia and China joined the group of participating nations.
But the way Sherman supporters like Mizrahi see it, Sherman first began putting forward bills and amendments to strengthen sanctions on Iran as early as 2005. Berman’s sanctions bill — which Sherman has argued was unnecessarily delayed — was, according to Mizrahi, composed of legislative ideas that originated in bills and amendments proposed by other lawmakers, including Sherman.
And for Jarrow Rogovin, an L.A.-based manufacturer of dietary supplements who is a high-level AIPAC donor, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a longtime Sherman supporter, Berman is responsible for delaying the imposition of sanctions against Iran.
“When Iran gets a nuclear bomb,” Rogovin said, “it will be a monument to Howard Berman and Barack Obama.”
June 27, 2012 | 2:10 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
According to a new study of the results of the 30th district primary held earlier this month, Rep. Brad Sherman, who finished first overall, was bested among Jewish voters by his opponent, Rep. Howard Berman.
“Voters with Jewish surnames supported Berman very strongly,” concluded the study, which was released on June 27 and conducted by RPData, a firm founded by redistricting consultant Paul Mitchell.
But Sherman, who finished 10 points ahead of Berman in the primary earlier this month, won more Asian and Latino votes than any other candidate, and also finished first with voters not expressing a party preference. Larger numbers of voters are expected to turn out to vote in November than they did in June, and among those voters, the greatest growth is expected among Latino voters and voters not expressing a party preference.
As a result, Mitchell and his colleagues believe that the significance of Berman’s winning among Jews wouldn’t be sufficient to propel him to victory in November.
“The Jewish strength for Berman is a strong messaging point in that campaign and likely a point of pride, however these voters are not going to exceed the 13% of the electorate seen in the June Primary,” the study read. “Their strength within the overall electorate could actually decline.”
RPData also found that among Republicans, who voted for Republican Mark Reed “by a sizeable margin” earlier this month, Sherman was the second-most popular candidate, winning more Republican votes than either of the two other Republicans on the ballot.
The study cautioned that Sherman’s strong showing among Republicans in June should not be taken as a prediction of a repeat result in November. It called Republicans “an unknown entity,” and said they might simply skip out on voting in the head-to-head race between Democrats in November.
For the full text (pdf) of the RPData study, click here.
June 13, 2012 | 2:56 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
This November, Allan Hoffman is going to have a difficult choice to make on Election Day.
A registered Republican since Ronald Reagan first ran for president, Hoffman, who lives in Woodland Hills, voted for Mark Reed in the 30th Congressional District primary on June 5. Reed, one of three Republican candidates on the primary ballot, received just 12.6 percent of votes cast, leaving him well behind the top two vote-getters, Rep. Brad Sherman (D–Sherman Oaks) and Rep. Howard Berman (D–Van Nuys).
Now, thanks to California’s new top-two primary system, Hoffman will have to choose which of the two Democratic incumbents to vote for in November.
This is the first election cycle to test the top-two primary system established by Proposition 14, which was approved by voters in 2010, and the political parties are still trying to figure out how — or whether — to advise their members in elections that don’t include a candidate from their party on the ballot.
For Republicans, party rules include sanctions for those who endorse against a Republican; what’s not clear is what happens if a member endorses in a race with no Republican candidate.
“The new election rules are going to force the parties to evaluate how they are going to engage in self-governance going forward,” Adam Abrahms, regional vice chair of the California Republican Party, said.
Some individual Republicans already have weighed in on both sides of the Berman-Sherman race, but the party is very unlikely to do so.
“We are not making any recommendations,” Gary Aminoff, vice chair of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County (LAGOP), said.
Still, with 26 percent of the voters in the 30th District registered as Republicans, both Berman and Sherman are working hard to win over the votes of non-Democrats — and they’re not the only ones running for office in the Los Angeles area doing so.
In two new Assembly districts with sizable minorities of Jewish voters, the 46th District in the central San Fernando Valley and the 50th District, which comprises most of the Westside of Los Angeles from West Hollywood to Malibu, voters could also face a choice in November between two Democratic candidates vying to represent them in Sacramento.
One Republican candidate ran in each of these strongly Democratic districts, and both managed to win enough votes to ensure that on June 12, when this article went to press, the races were still too close to call. In the 46th District, while Democrat Adrin Nazarian had secured the top spot, just four votes separated Democrat Brian Johnson and Republican Jay L. Stern, leaving open the question of who will end up in the second spot on the November ballot. Democrat Andrew Lachman trailed by nearly 300 votes.
On June 8, when he appeared to be less than 100 votes behind Johnson, Stern said that if the top two finishers were Nazarian and Johnson, he wouldn’t be making any official recommendations to voters as to which one to choose.
“They’re both equally bad,” said Stern, who said he considers himself culturally Jewish. “I’d say just leave it blank.”
In the 50th District, meanwhile, Republican Brad Torgan, who said he is a member of Congregation Kol Ami, was on June 11 just a few hundred votes behind the Democrats who appeared to have secured the top two spots, Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and incumbent Assemblymember Betsy Butler.
As of June 11, Torgan said he hadn’t conceded the race, but had already been approached by both Butler’s and Bloom’s campaigns. Torgan said that if he did not make it into the top two, he wasn’t sure what he, as an ex-officio member of LAGOP’s central committee, would be allowed to say about either of the Democrats.
“Proposition 14 has created a new paradigm as to what the rules are,” Torgan said. “And I know I’m not the only Republican
in this quandary.”
But according to California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, even if there are no Republicans in some races, the party will be working to get its voters to the polls in the fall. The presidential candidates may not be contesting this reliably blue state, but he said the propositions on the November ballot — including Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure to raise taxes on high-income earners — are too important to concede.
“It’s going to be one of the most dynamic and important elections in California, probably since 1992,” Del Beccaro said.