Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The campaigns of Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) both closed their books on the first quarter of 2012 at the end of March and in the days leading up to release of official numbers from the Federal Election Commission, both operations tried to signal their strength and preparedness for a long and expensive fight.
On April 5, Politico cited “a source close to the campaign” in its report that Berman had raised $600,000 during the first quarter of 2012. Between those donations and the $2.85 million in cash the campaign had at the end of 2011, Berman’s forthcoming FEC filing should show him with well over $3 million in cash on hand.
The next day, Sherman’s campaign released a statement saying it had $4 million in cash on hand.
More will be known about the financial state of the two campaigns when their official filings become public on April 15, but the two preliminary reports show that while Sherman still has more total cash on hand, Berman continues to collect donations at a more rapid pace.
Buoyed by an internal poll that showed Sherman leading Berman by a 2-1 margin, Sherman’s campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, sent a confident message to reporters.
“We’ve been able to finance a robust campaign where we have visited, called, and mailed to ever likely voter in the district again and again,” Skelton said in a statement. “We still have $4 million cash on hand to carry on a more robust campaign in future months.”
In a statement released on its website on April 4, the Berman campaign cast doubt on the reliability of the poll. “Were it true, it simply reflects the fact that he [Sherman] currently represents a majority of the district. Nothing more,” read the unsigned statement on the “News” section of HowardBerman.com.
The statement went on to say that the campaign would, in the coming weeks, “be communicating through mail, TV, radio and Internet ads.”
In the new 30th district, where Democratic voters outnumber Republican ones by a 2-1 margin, the best-known Republican candidates in the race will have significantly fewer resources at their disposal.
In a radio debate on “Which Way L.A.?” with Berman and Sherman earlier this month, Republican candidate Mark Reed said he had raised about $15,000 for his campaign so far. Reed is scheduled to appear at a $1,000 per person fundraiser in Malibu hosted by Michael Reagan on April 10.
Another participant in the same debate, Republican candidate Susan Shelley, was less specific about the resources at her disposal.
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. . .
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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. . . (7)
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)
April 3, 2012 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
A new poll released by Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D - Sherman Oaks) campaign shows him far ahead of his fellow Democrat and rival in the 30th district, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys). The poll also suggests that Berman and Sherman will advance from the June 5 primary to face off again in November’s general election.
In a poll taken last month, 52 percent of voters chose Sherman in a head-to-head race, with Berman getting 25 percent, and the remaining 23 percent of voters undecided. In the release of the results, Sherman’s pollster, Diane Feldman, pointed out that this margin is effectively identical to the results of a similar poll conducted for Sherman’s campaign in August 2011, in which 51 percent of voters chose Sherman and 26 percent chose Berman.
More immediately relevant, however, is the second set of results released in the new poll.
Back in August 2011, when Feldman asked voters about a three-way race between Sherman, Berman and Republican Mark Reed, Sherman won 42 percent of votes, Reed came in second with 26 percent and Berman came in third with 17 percent.
But under new California election law, all voters are allowed to vote in the June 5 primary, regardless of party registration, and they will be able to choose from a wide variety of candidates from multiple parties. Seven candidates will appear on the ballot in this new open-primary, and with three Republicans running—Reed, writer Susan Shelley, and businessman Navraj Singh—the top-two are Sherman-Berman.
That result would pave the way for a Berman v. Sherman general election in November.
In an email announcing the poll results, Sherman’s newly hired PR guy, former journalist John Schwada, downplayed in advance the upcoming release of recent campaign fundraising and spending data, scheduled to be released on April 15.
“The Sherman campaign has elected to save its campaign resources for the November general election,” Schwada wrote.
The Sherman-sponsored poll of 500 likely voters in California’s new 30th Congressional district was conducted between March 26-28 The Feldman Group, Inc. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Here are the results:
Head to head:
Brad Sherman, Democrat 51% (52 % in August 2011)
Howard Berman, Democrat 26% (25% in August 2011)
Undecided 23% (23% in August 2011)
Full field for the June primary (all numbers from March 2012 poll):
Democrat Brad Sherman 40%
Democrat Howard Berman 17%
Democrat Vince Gilmore 1%
Republican Mark Reed 12%
Republican Susan Shelley 5%
Republican Navraj Singh 4%
Green Party member Michael Powelson 2%
April 3, 2012 | 10:31 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), Mark Reed and Susan Shelley have met on various stages around the San Fernando Valley for debates in recent months, and are set to meet a few more times in the nine weeks before the primary on June 5th. The four candidates running in the 30th district will meet on “Which Way, L.A.?” at 7p.m. tonight on KCRW (89.9 FM), The City Maven reports.
The tone at these debates has been snippy in the past, most particularly when Sherman goes after Berman. It started when Sherman first proposed an anti-Super PAC pledge (that Berman refused to sign) at the first debate in January; at a March 14 forum sponsored by the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, Sherman asked Berman whether he was breaking House rules by driving a government car for personal or political reasons.
Post continues after the jump.
Sherman and Berman, who both recently hired new PR professionals to help get their stories out, appear to be digging in for a bruising fight. But the Republicans in the district, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, are also going after one another.
Things heated up when Susan Shelley, a writer who calls herself a social moderate, released Los Angeles Superior Court documents about conservative businessman/rancher/actor Mark Reed’s criminal record. Shelley noted that Reed had been arrested in Los Angeles County six times, including twice relating to drugs and twice for driver’s license violations. In 2010 he was convicted on two counts of possessing a concealed weapon and sentenced to 36 months’ probation.
“It’s completely misleading and false what she’s bringing out,” Reed told the Jewish Journal, calling it a “filthy personal attack.”
Reed said that the weapons-related charge was about “an antique stagecoach 20-gauge pistol shotgun” that he said had only been used as a prop in his work as an actor.
Responding to the other charges, Reed said that the animal, a monkey that he still owns, was cited by the Department of Fish and Game as a dangerous species because the permit lapsed.
“The other stuff that she’s talking about” Reed said, “my god, that’s 1990.”
Some of the charges against Reed came up in his earlier bid for congress, in 2010, an unsuccessful run to unseat Sherman in the old 27th congressional district.
March 27, 2012 | 12:28 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Thanks to a ballot measure approved by voters in 2010, this year will be the first regularly scheduled election cycle in California to include what some call a “jungle primary,” in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will appear on a single ballot, and in which all voters, regardless of party registration, will be allowed to vote.
In the 30th district, along with Reps. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), five other candidates’ names are set to appear on primary ballots on June 5. Assuming no single candidate wins an outright majority, the top two vote getters will advance to a second round general election in November. And while the two incumbents are certainly the best known candidates of the bunch, whether both of them can make it through the first round is still anyone’s guess.
As I’ve noted on this blog, some political observers have speculated that the continuation of the contest for the Republican Presidential nomination might bring more registered Republicans to the polls, which could make “Berman v. Sherman, Round Two” less likely. Then again, the three Republican candidates could split the GOP vote.
All this by way of introducing the series of profiles of the “non -ermans,” the candidates running in the 30th congressional district who don’t have blogs named after them.
* * *
There’s only one non-incumbent Dem running in this race, and I have no idea what he looks like, because Gilmore’s website doesn’t include a photograph. Or a biography, for that matter. But in an interview with the Journal, Gilmore, a freelance gardener, said he is hoping that voters will focus on his ideas rather than on his age (31) or his lack of experience. (The Los Angeles Times called him a “neophyte.” Gilmore prefers the epithet, “Constitutional Democrat.”)
“Since I’m young I didn’t want people to make prejudgments on how I look or my age,” Gilmore said in a phone conversation in February. So he’s been using the stars and stripes instead. “I thought, what better than a nice American flag to get my message out there?”
Gilmore’s message, in a nutshell, is anti-war, anti-free trade and pro-civil liberties. Gilmore opposes the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, preferring “total individual freedom” on the internet, and he’s opposed to all foreign aid, including foreign aid to Israel.
“I would argue that foreign aid is not authorized in the constitution,” Gilmore said. “It’s as simple as that to me.”
“It’s not an anti-Israel policy as much as it’s a pro-constitution policy,” he added.
March 21, 2012 | 12:12 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
A bill sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) that would make it easier for some Israeli investors in U.S.-based businesses to move to the United States to oversee those businesses passed the House of Representatives on March 19 by a margin of 371-0.
Berman’s bill will extend to Israeli investors the ability to apply for an E-2 investor visa, which is today available to investors from more than 75 other countries—including Britain, Montenegro, Iran, and the Republic of Togo.
A companion measure is being considered in the Senate.
What accounts for the wide margin of this bill’s passage?
KPCC’s Kitty Felde noted that it might be important for lawmakers to burnish their pro-Israel credentials in an election year (and seriously, the only other bill that I can think of that recently passed through a legislative chamber in Washington by a unanimous vote was the Senate bill calling for tougher sanctions on Iran).
But the other reason for the overwhelming support for Berman’s bill lies in just how unobjectionable the measure is. I reported on the bill in February, around the time it was first introduced. Back then, an immigration law expert called it “a tiny little fix” to the immigration visa system.
More than 25,000 E-2 investor visas were issued in 2010, according to E2VisaReform.org, a group that tries to “highlight problems facing E2 Treaty Investor Visa holders.”
March 15, 2012 | 1:04 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Adam Schiff (D - Burbank) has endorsed Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) for reelection in the 30th district.
Berman, who is locked in an all-out battle with fellow Democratic incumbent Congressman Brad Sherman (Sherman Oaks), had already received the support of most of California’s Democratic representatives when Schiff made his endorsement, which was announced by the Berman campaign on March 14.
Berman, Schiff said in a statement, “has been a mentor and a leader on some of the most challenging issues of our time. There are not many Representatives who can rightly be called ‘statesman,’ but Howard is one of them, and I am proud to support him.”
“After working closely with Congressman Berman for the past decade,” Schiff’s statement continued, “I know that his wisdom, experience and tireless advocacy must not be lost.”
With the addition of Schiff, the total number of Democratic incumbents in Congress backing Berman rises to 24, a number that includes Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D - Santa Ana), who has endorsed both Berman and Sherman. Sherman has also received endorsements from two other members of California’s Democratic delegation in Congress, Reps. Judy Chu (D - El Monte) and Grace Napolitano (D - Norwalk), neither of whom have endorsed Berman.
While the 23 other representatives backing Berman announced their support for the congressman back in November 2011, Schiff’s endorsement came only after the March 9 filing deadline for candidates wishing to be on California’s ballot had passed.
March 12, 2012 | 11:30 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
It’s the first day of little league season; do you know where your local congressman is?
If he’s running for reelection in California’s 30th district, he spent part of March 10 on the ball field. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) both made appearances at different little league openers on Saturday morning.
The two Jewish incumbents got early starts on Sunday morning, too, both attending the final event on Israeli President Shimon Peres’ Los Angeles itinerary, a gathering of (mostly) Latino elected officials, religious leaders and other prominent and pretty people.
At that event—a much more formal affair at the Beverly Hilton—Sherman estimated he’d been to about 40 or 50 little league openers. He told the L.A. Times the day before that he had “learned not to throw out the first pitch.”
Word from the Berman campaign is that the 70-year-old congressman may have seen some action on (or near) the mound on Saturday morning, but the pictures they shared with the B-v-S blog showed Berman with a microphone in his hand, not a Rawlings.
February 29, 2012 | 4:19 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
When Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Brad Sherman, both Democrats, and Republican newcomer Mark Reed debated on Feb. 21 in a gathering sponsored by The Jewish Journal, the questions posed to the three candidates running for congress in the 30th District by Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman and Journal columnist Bill Boyarsky, as well as by this writer, focused largely on foreign policy, specifically in relation to Iran. But if voters were hoping to see clear, unequivocal distinctions between the two experienced lawmakers on this pressing issue, they likely were disappointed.
Berman and Sherman, who have spent a combined 45 years representing neighboring San Fernando Valley districts in Congress, battled over who has been the stronger backer of sanctions against Iran.
“I have been pressing for sanctions since 1998,” Sherman said near the start of the 90-minute debate. “I have criticized every secretary of state for not imposing those sanctions, and I have introduced by far the strictest bill to impose sanctions on Iran.”
Moments later, Berman touted his own efforts.
“I’m the author of the toughest sanctions that have ever been imposed on Iran, and the administration is implementing them, just the way they should be,” he said.
As to whether the Obama administration’s sanctions on Iran were having an effect, a slight difference between the two candidates appeared to emerge.
“It’s working,” Berman said, listing the falling value of Iran’s currency and the country’s difficulty in exporting its crude oil as evidence that the current sanctions have teeth. “Pursue this course with tougher sanctions on the central bank and on all aspects of Iranian behavior and you will see them abandon their nuclear weapons program.”
Sherman disagreed. “While it is true that the Obama administration has done more than prior administrations to sanction Iran,” he said, “it isn’t nearly enough.”
If nuanced observation and a knowledge of the inner workings of Congress are required to determine which of the two incumbents stands as the stauncher supporter of sanctions against Iran, it is far easier to tell the difference between them and Reed, who dismissed the sanctions so far as ineffective and seemed more inclined toward the option of military action by the United States.
“America has an obligation as the world’s superpower to take the lead on this,” said the Republican, who is running his second campaign for Congress in the San Fernando Valley. “If America doesn’t do that, then I am in support of Israel actually taking out the nuclear facilities.”
More than 500 people gathered at Temple Judea in Tarzana to hear from three of the candidates in a race that has been the focus of local and national media attention ever since it became clear that new congressional district lines would pit Berman and Sherman against one another in this West San Fernando Valley District.
In recent months, Berman and Sherman have each announced their endorsements from unions, local Democratic Party groups and public officials from all levels. Sherman has won nine union endorsements; Berman has won four. Endorsements from California’s Democratic congressmen broke down 23-2 in Berman’s favor, and Berman also has the support of the state’s two U.S. senators. Locally, Sherman has the backing of five Los Angeles City Council members, including four who represent most of the new 30th District. All five Los Angeles County supervisors are supporting Berman.
And while voters can wait until the June primary to decide whom to support, many donors already have given to one campaign or the other.
Berman, who raised more than $1 million in the last quarter of 2011, received donations from many of the Israeli-American philanthropists who head the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC).
“They both are very strong supporters of Israel,” ILC co-chair Eli Tene said of Sherman and Berman. Tene gave $2,500 to Berman’s campaign in December, one of four leaders of the ILC to make a four-figure donation. “It’s a shame that we need to decide between the good and the good.”
One ILC director, Adam Milstein, gave $1,000 to Sherman’s campaign in July 2011, and Tene said he didn’t see any consensus in the Israeli-American community as to which candidate deserved their support.
“It has to do with who they know,” Tene said.
Stanley Black, a Beverly Hills-based real estate developer who has given large gifts to many Los Angeles Jewish nonprofits, knows both Sherman and Berman. He said he wasn’t going to decide between the two and has given money to both campaigns.
“They’re good guys, both of them,” Black said. “They support Israel. I support them both.”
For his part, Reed’s fundraising operation doesn’t appear to have kicked into gear yet — he raised $3,350 in the last three months of 2011 and had just over $3,000 in cash on hand at the end of that year — but his answers at the debate appealed to some in the audience.
“He’s more hawkish on Middle East issues than either of the incumbents,” said Jeff Leib, a member of Temple Judea who describes himself as a “Republocrat” and is supporting Reed’s candidacy.
At the debate, Leib and his wife watched the audience when Reed was speaking, to gauge their reactions.
“We were looking around to see the faces,” he said, “and the nods when Mark spoke, from the people wearing the ‘I’m with Howard’ buttons, were amazing.”
This June, for the first time, Californians will vote in primaries that include all candidates, regardless of party affiliation. If no single candidate wins an outright majority, the top two candidates will advance to a run-off in November.
In spite of their status as incumbents, their large reserves of campaign cash and their name recognition, it’s possible that either Berman or Sherman might not finish in the top two in June. The two polls to have been made publicly available, one of which was conducted by the Sherman campaign, suggest that Berman wouldn’t make the cut.
And an extended battle for the Republican presidential nomination could further bolster Reed’s chances of finishing in first or second place.
“In past primary elections, the vote in [the 30th Congressional District] has been around 56 percent Democratic and 38 percent Republican,” Democratic consultant Paul Mitchell wrote in a recent newsletter. “And if [Rick] Santorum makes a strong stand on Super Tuesday, we could see that Republican turnout surge. That would make it mathematically tough for both Berman and Sherman to make it to November.”
Footage from Feb. 21 debate.