My colleague Jonah Lowenfeld was quick to the draw that is the heated congressional race between Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, both veteran Jewish Democrats that are staunchly pro-Israel, but because of California redistricting, are now competing for the same seat in the House of Representatives.
In a nutshell, Sherman is the people’s congressman, a town hall meeting confidante who listens well to the needs of his constituents. Berman is the Hollywood darling, a power player in Washington who is well-liked and well-connected. As the influential political blog calbuzz.com put it, though none too kindly, “This is not a clash of two titans,” an anonymous source described as “Hollywood Democrat” is quoted as saying. “It’s a superstar congressman versus a schlemiel.”
Point taken, though Jews know better than anybody not to underestimate a schlemiel—they end up the heroes in plenty of Jewish folktales.
But a voice and a vote in the halls of power is something Hollywood cares about, thus, Hollywood cares about this race. And, as Phil Trounstine notes in his article, the industry’s big fish are making a big play for Berman: Back in November 2011, the three musketeers—Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen—hosted a Berman fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton that added $1.6 million to Berman’s previously $2.3 million campaign. Sherman had been the leading fundraising at the time, with $3.7 million already in the bank. But a dinner with Universal’s Ron Meyer, Paramount’s Brad Grey and Disney’s Bob Iger (whom Deadline.com recently reported collected $31.4 million in compensation last year) can change things.
Trounstine excerpts this pitch from SKG asking their industry brethren to support Berman:
Howard has been a champion of the entertainment industry since he was first elected to Congress in 1983. As a lead member of the Judiciary Committee, he plays a key role in shaping the copyright, trademark and patent laws that are so vital to our industry. And as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he has fought to strengthen aid to Israel, continue U.S. foreign assistance on global HIV/AIDS programs, and improve America’s diplomatic standing in the world.
It’s tough to improve on the capsule summary of the race between Howard Berman and Brad Sherman in California’s 30th Congressional District offered up by our friend Gene Maddaus at the LA Weekly: A battle “to determine which bald, Jewish Democrat who voted for the Iraq War will continue to represent the San Fernando Valley.”
Which helps explain why the Jewish Journal, the largest landsman weekly in the U.S. outside of New York, has labeled Jonah Lowenfeld’s smart blog on the race “Berman v. Sherman: Two Jews, One District.”
As Danielle Berrin, who writes JJ’s “Hollywood Jew” blog, put it: “It’s a lose-lose for Jews. We have two and now we’re going to have one.”