At his fund-raising dinner on Nov. 10, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) acknowledged that his race for reelection in the newly redrawn 30th district, in which he is facing off against fellow Democratic incumbent Congressman Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), is likely to be the most competitive challenge he’s faced in awhile.
“To all of you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here when I really need you,” the 29-year veteran congressman told the packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton.
This year’s event, which has become a biennial staple of the Democratic political calendar in Los Angeles over the past few decades, was attended by members of Los Angeles’s Jewish community, a few leaders of labor unions, and elected officials.
“I’ve been watching politicians for a long time, and Howard’s really one of the few people that is not fluff, that is not manipulation,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown, who closed out the evening’s program, and is one of the honorary co-chairs of Berman’s campaign. “What you see is what you get.”
A number of longtime Berman stalwarts were in attendance, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), former congressman Mel Levine, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield.
City Councilman Tony Cardenas, who is running for election in the majority-Latino newly drawn 29th Congressional District, directly to the west of the contested 30th, was also in attendance—as was Sen. Alex Padilla, who has endorsed Cardenas’s congressional bid.
There was much talk of Berman’s staunch support for Israel as one-time chairman and now ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and many of the Jewish Berman supporters in attendance cited that as their main reason for supporting Berman.
“As Israeli-Americans we have one issue,” said Adam Milstein, a member of the Israeli Leadership Council’s board of directors, by way of explaining why he was supporting Berman. “That issue is Israel.”
In his speech, Berman announced that the dinner had raised $1.6 million, which should go some distance towards closing the fundraising gap between him and Sherman, who was $1.4 million ahead of Berman as of the last reporting period, which ended on September 30.
For all the money they’re raising from Hollywood types and others, Berman’s campaign look like something of a family affair. As in his past campaigns, Howard’s brother Michael Berman is running the campaign—but this being 2011, Berman’s eldest daughter, Brinley Turner, is advising them on the use of new technology. During the cocktail hour on Thursday evening, she was standing beside a MacBook Air, inviting Berman supporters to announce their support via social media.
Berman poked fun at his own technophobia in his remarks. “Sign up for emails, follow us on twitter, and like us on Facebook—whatever that means,” Berman said, holding up his new iPhone.