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.