Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
In what was likely the most closely watched contest of California’s June 5 primary elections, Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) finished first in the new 30th Congressional District with 42.4 percent of the vote. Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) won 32.4 percent of the vote, an outcome that put them both comfortably ahead of all five other candidates in the race and sets up a rematch in November between the two well-known and well-funded Democratic incumbents.
Speaking to their supporters on Tuesday night after the release of early results, Sherman and Berman each looked toward the race ahead.
“You are here at a victory party that is preparation for the next victory party,” Sherman said shortly after he arrived at the Encino restaurant where his supporters had gathered to watch the election results come in.
Berman supporters were at the candidate’s campaign offices, less than a half-mile away.
“This campaign wasn’t geared toward June,” Berman told them. “It was geared toward November.”
Both men tried to play up their strength in the campaign ahead.
Berman argued that voters were still getting to know him a district that includes 60 percent of Sherman’s current district.
“As voters learn of our record of accomplishment for the San Fernando Valley and for the nation, my support grows,” Berman, who is hoping to win his 16th term in Congress in November, said.
Sherman argued that any bump for Berman was a result of the money spent by his opponent’s campaign and an outside group supporting Berman—and focused on his own monetary advantage going forward.
“Tomorrow we will have $3 million in cash on hand, and they will have almost none,” Sherman said. “They will not dominate the airwaves in October.”
The other candidates in a field that included three Republicans finished well behind the two Democratic incumbents.
Combined, however, the Republicans 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 “if you have decided to pick between Sherman and Berman, pick Sherman.”
3.14.13 at 9:24 am | The veteran former congressman joins Covington &. . .
1.4.13 at 2:55 pm | Colleagues paid tribute in in the House chamber. . .
12.19.12 at 3:06 pm | In political campaigns, how and when a strategist. . .
12.12.12 at 12:22 pm | Sherman and Berman spent $40 for each registered. . .
11.12.12 at 11:22 pm | And this blogger scratches his head.
11.7.12 at 2:46 pm | The National Jewish Democratic Council sent this. . .
10.12.12 at 1:36 pm | On Friday, leaders in the movement for. . . (3)
9.25.12 at 12:02 pm | With the election six weeks away, the candidates. . . (3)
11.10.11 at 2:59 pm | Gov. Jerry Brown and other elected officials came. . . (3)
June 6, 2012 | 2:20 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
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.”
June 6, 2012 | 1:39 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
June 3, 2012 | 2:07 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) will finish first in the June 5 primary election, a new online survey has found. Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), who, as a result of redistricting, is also running for reelection in the hotly contested 30th congressional district, is expected to come in second.
Given a choice between all seven candidates who will appear on the primary ballot, 32 percent of voters in the new West San Fernando Valley district chose Sherman, while 24 percent said they had or would be voting for Berman. If the survey turns out to be accurate, that would set up a second round for the two veteran Democratic Congressmen.
Under a new California law, the top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to a runoff in November.
The online survey, conducted by polling firms M4 Strategies and Tulchin Research for the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, asked 329 likely registered Primary Election voters in the district a series of questions in an online format.
Republican candidate Mark Reed came in third in the poll with 10 percent of voters saying they would or had voted for him. Trailing Reed were Republican Navraj Singh (4.3 percent), Green Party candidate Michael Powelson (3.5 percent), Republican Susan Shelley (1.9 percent) and Democrat Vince Gilmore (1.5 percent).
Twenty-three percent of voters said they were undecided.
Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife Online Survey and director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said that the high number of undecided voters could be a result of the poll’s being conducted online.
“On an online survey, respondents are much more likely to say, ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘No opinion,’”Schnur said.
Other than that one quirk, Schnur said that the survey had been experimenting with online polling since the beginning of the year, and its results so far have shown that online poll results should be considered to be as reliable as traditional phone surveys.
The results were announced in a release early this morning. Here are the three meatiest paragraphs:
Schnur pointed out that both candidates performed best among their current constituents, but that Sherman’s current district represents a larger portion of the new district than Berman’s. He also noted that Sherman supporters were more likely to prioritize taxes, infrastructure and immigration as the most important issues in their decision, while Berman voters ranked healthcare and the candidate’s experience as their top concerns. Sherman’s backers were heavily Latino and Catholic, while Berman ran much stronger among Jewish voters, especially Reform Jews.
“Both candidates run best on their home turf among voters who know them best,” Schnur said. “They are going to spend the next several months fighting over voters who supported neither one of them in the primary and attempting to discourage their opponent’s supporters from turning out.”
“Ironically, the battle between these two Democratic stalwarts may be decided by Republican voters.”
The poll, which was conducted between May 29 to 31, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percent, also makes use of some online tools that wouldn’t be available to pollsters working over the phone. In an interview on Friday, Schnur told me that online polls allow pollsters not just to ask more questions, but also to show voters videos of advertisements to then gauge their reactions.
This poll showed voters ads for Sherman and Berman and then gauged their persuasiveness. Of the two ads shown, the Sherman campaign ad did better.
But in an interesting move, the pro-Berman ad shown to voters was not to one of the ads created by the Berman campaign itself.
The surveyed voters watched one of the ads created and paid for by the Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman, the only pro-Berman Super-PAC still active in this race. Those ads have been called “amateurish” by some.
June 2, 2012 | 12:01 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
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.
May 24, 2012 | 6:22 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman was joking when he said that his campaign chose to photoshop his mother out of one campaign mailer but not the other, according a statement released by Sherman campaign spokesman John Schwada.
Here’s Schwada’s email—the subject was “Berman Campaign Can’t Take a Joke”—with links added:
Regarding the video of Congressman Sherman explaining the photo of his mother in his mailings, LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick got it right: “The Berman side seems to think that Sherman’s explanation to Dave Bryant of CBS/KCAL is a serious moment…I don’t agree. It actually reminds me of Sherman’s 2006 appearance on ‘The Colbert Report’ playing along as Stephen Colbert spoofs the Valley’s reputation for porn. Maybe the guy [Sherman] just has a dry sense of humor.”
The only video of this exchange was shot by the Berman campaign and by two TV stations. The TV stations have chosen not to air it - because they got Sherman’s joke. But the Berman people refused to see the humor and did everything possible to hide the fact that the reporters were laughing. The Berman campaign may have clever editors but they have no sense of humor.
Say what you will about Sherman’s joke to the TV cameras, but Roderick is exactly right about the Colbert clip being wonderful. I wonder if the fake TV newsman would describe Sherman’s sense of humor as being bone dry.
May 24, 2012 | 1:06 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) may or may not have been joking when he told a TV reporter recently that voters would choose him if they saw pictures of his family. But a new pro-Sherman ad that appears in the current print edition of the Jewish Journal suggests that the eight-term Congressman is relying less on images with his wife and three daughters (and in some cases his mother) and more on pictures of himself with top Israeli officials.
The full-page ad appears on the glossy inside back cover of the May 25 edition of the Jewish Journal. “Brad Sherman. A powerful advocate for Israel,” reads the text at the top of the ad, which includes photographs of Sherman with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The ad appears just days after Sherman told a TV reporter that his campaign’s decision to photoshop his mother out of a picture of his family sent to non-Jewish voters but leave her in the photo sent to Jewish voters was a way of drawing the press into publishing those pictures.
Days earlier, Sherman’s campaign spokesman explained the decision was made to clean up an “awkwardly composed” photo.
Sherman, answering a question from CBS/KCAL reporter Dave Bryan, said his campaign was “desperate to try to get the press to publish pictures of” his family and that they “scraped around to buy an ad in the Jewish Journal, because if people see my family they’re gonna vote for me.”
Sherman’s family doesn’t appear in the new ad in the Jewish Journal, which is aimed at burnishing his pro-Israel credentials.
“Brad Sherman is one of the strongest and most effective advocates for Israel in the United States Congress,” the ad’s text reads.
Such a description is sure to rankle Sherman’s primary opponent, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), who is also a strong supporter of Israel and is competing for the same pool of Jewish voters in the upcoming June 5 primary.
The Forward recently reported that prominent pro-Israel donors from around the country have donated to Berman’s campaign.
Berman also received a business leadership award from the Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce on May 23, in recognition of his work to extend to Israeli investors a type of visa that they had not previously been eligible for.
May 23, 2012 | 10:25 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
California’s June 5 primary election is less than two weeks away, and if you’re a registered voter who lives in California’s 30th congressional district in the West San Fernando Valley, chances are good that Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) are using the good old USPS to try to snag your vote.
Of course, there was the widely reported story about the recent Sherman mailer that either did or did not feature the candidate’s mother (and the conflicting explanations for why that happened), but turns out there’s more in the mailbag, from his opponent.
The Daily News noticed that the Berman campaign is using a little bait-and-switch to improve the chances that their direct mail solicitations for votes actually get read:
Berman catches a potential voter’s eye with campaign advertising that doesn’t look like campaign advertising. It’s a 7 1/2-by-4-inch envelope whose only lettering says: “JURY DUTY IS GOOD CITIZENSHIP.” A recipient might think: This could be a jury summons. Better open it and find out!
Likely Republican voters in the district also received another interesting piece of mail from the Berman campaign this month: a letter from former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, urging them to pick Howard over Brad.
After calling Berman “one of the best Congressmen in America,” Riordan closes his letter this way:
We Republicans are practical. The two party registration in your congressional district is 70% Democratic to 30% Republican. One of the two Democratic Congressmen who are running will surely win. Please don’t waste your vote! Make Howard Berman the one who wins!
When it landed in the mailbox of Susan Shelley, a Republican running in the open primary on June 5, she wasn’t too happy to hear the former mayor describing a vote for her as “wasted.”
“Former Mayor Riordan is free to support an incumbent Democrat if he so chooses,” Shelley said in an emailed statement, “but he should not mislead Los Angeles voters into thinking the Democrats are unbeatable. There are two Democratic incumbents who will split the Democratic vote in this district. If Republicans and independents vote for a Republican candidate, that candidate will finish in the top two.”
Shelley also had a quibble about Riordan’s math—she’d rather talk about the whole of the electorate (49 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 21 percent Decline-to-State). But Shelley’s analysis suggesting that a Republican could finish in the top two only holds up if there’s only one Republican running in Berman-Sherman land.
Unfortunately for Shelley, who I profiled in last week’s issue of the Jewish Journal, she’s one of three Republicans on the ballot, and the Sherman campaign’s poll from back in March (still the only poll that’s been released so far) shows her in fourth place, well behind the two incumbents, who finished in the top two spots.
Is there more interesting mail out there? Send it my way.