If the last few weeks of news coverage is any indication, from now until this Tuesday, a shocking number of pundits, analysts and prognosticators will be talking about the race between Rep. Howard Bernan (D - Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks).
But I wanted a unique view, so, when I talked recently with Adrin Nazarian, a candidate for Assembly running in the hotly contested 46th district (which partially overlaps with the 30th congressional district), I asked him what he thought of the Berman-Sherman grudge match.
I asked, not just because Nazarian is a Democrat who is also facing off against other Democrats in the June 5th primary, but because he worked for both Berman and Sherman. Nazarian’s official political biography starts off with his stint as an aide to Sherman, but his first political internship was in Berman’s district office, where he spent a summer during college.
“The best way I can say it,” said Nazarian, who is chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, “is with one you have an individual who can possibly speak to any prime minister he chooses to speak with, that’s the gravity he brings to his job.
“And then,” he continued, “with another one, you have someone who brings Washington, D.C., to your doorstep. You don’t want to lose either one, because they are so different in what they do. That’s the beauty of a legislative body; you want to harness the talents of two individuals like these.”
(That was Berman, then Sherman.)
Now, I’ve been covering this race for awhile, and I haven’t heard anyone sum up the stylistic difference between these two legislators in a more elegant—and yes, politic—way than Nazarian did.
Most voters will be hearing from journalists, though, and we’re taking, shall we say, different approaches to the task.
Some of us get right to the heart of the matchup, like KPCC’s Frank Stoltze did—starting with the redistricting that caused the whole race to begin with, and trying to draw as many distinctions as exist between two admittedly similar congressmen, in an effort to help voters make a tough decision.
Others adopt a snarkier position, like Molly Ball did in the Atlantic. She started with the assumption that the two congressmen were all but indistinguishable but for their differing styles of representation (“like different haircuts on identical twins,” was her way of putting it) and then asked questions unlikely to enlighten the reader. (Ball: “If you were an animal, I asked each man, what kind of animal would you be?” To their credit, both congressmen dodged the question—in different ways, I might add.)
Others, like Hillel Aron in the LA Weekly, manage to both mock the race’s participants while also offering important context for it—in practically the same breath:
Berman…who bears a faint resemblance to Senator Palpatine from the Star Wars series, has never in his life run in a competitive re-election race. Not once since his election to the state Assembly has his vote dipped below 60 percent.
Well, he’s got one now. According to his press people, Berman will be running all over the Valley on Saturday and Sunday to get out the vote. (Sunday’s itinerary includes stops at two different Jewish old age homes.)
And although we’ll have to wait until evening to find out who won, it looks as though Sherman, who is scheduled to vote at 7 am, will beat Berman to the polls on Tuesday morning. (Berman’s schedule has him down for 8:30 am.)
And no, the two candidates don’t have the same polling place.