Jewish Journal

It’s Groundhog Day as Democrats like (but don’t endorse) Berman; Sherman talks up $$$ advantage

by Jonah Lowenfeld

July 16, 2012 | 5:08 pm

Groundhog Day (1993)

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.

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As a result of California’s 2011 redistricting, two Jewish Democratic incumbent congressmen, Howard Berman (D - Valley Village) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), have both...

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