Jewish Journal

Under new strategist, Berman campaign goes negative with new website

by Jonah Lowenfeld

July 25, 2012 | 3:40 pm

A screenshot of BradShermanFacts.com, a new website launched on Wednesday, July 25, by the Berman campaign.

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.

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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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