While the June 5 primary marked the end of the preliminary round of voting for Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) and Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), who finished first and second in the 30th Congressional District primary election and will face off again in November, it was the last stop on the campaign trail for Republican candidate Susan Shelley.
I met Shelley around 11:30pm on Tuesday night in a bar in Tarzana, where she had been watching the results come in with her core supporters. At the time, with 15 percent of districts reporting, she had received just 4.4 percent of the votes cast.
“This was like a recall election,” Shelley said. “The voters do not want to recall the incumbents, based on 15 percent of the votes.”
Shelley said the results surprised her.
“The economy of the Valley is so terrible,” Shelley said, after handing a few flyers to some young men shooting pool, “and yet people do not seem to connect that with the incumbents’ support for the stimulus and the debt and the wild, crazy spending with no end in sight.”
As of 1 am, with 18.2 percent of precincts reporting, Shelley had received fewer votes than the two other Republicans on the primary ballot, actor/businessman/rancher Mark Reed and restaurateur Navraj Singh, and all three Republicans finished well behind the two Democratic incumbents.
Thanks to a new law passed by voters that sends the top two vote-getters in the open primary on to the general election, the results of Tuesday’s primary mean that November ballot in the 30th Congressional District will not feature a Republican candidate.
Combined, however, the Republican candidates took almost a quarter of the votes cast in the primary, and Berman and Sherman are already trying to court the registered Republican voters in the district.
The Berman campaign has sent out letters of support from former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican; the Sherman campaign recently sent letters to Republican voters in the district with an endorsement from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R - Huntington Beach), who wrote that while he would personally choose to voter for a Republican in the June 5 primary, “if you have decided to pick between Sherman and Berman, pick Sherman.”
Whether any of the unsuccessful Republican challengers to Berman and Sherman will direct any of their supporters to vote for one of the two incumbent Democrats in November remains to be seen.
On primary night, though, Shelley was non-committal, and offered no comment. She was still holding out hope that she would make a stronger showing in the West Valley, and she felt proud of her campaign.
“It’s been a great experience,” Shelley said, “and I think it was important to bring out the idea of being a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.”