Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), after winning re-election in a bitter fight against Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), has abandoned his pursuit of his rival’s old position as ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Among the Democratic representatives on the committee, Sherman is the most senior. But facing opposition from members of the California Democratic delegation, most of whom backed Berman’s re-election bid, Sherman endorsed the next most-senior Democratic congressman on the committee seeking the post, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).
At a meeting Nov. 14, Sherman’s colleagues were, according to Politico, “furious” about a mailer sent out by a pro-Sherman Super PAC during the campaign to Republican voters in the district that appeared to touch on racial and anti-gay themes.
“Maxine Waters, Barney Frank and Barbara Boxer all want you to vote for Howard Berman,” read the text on the mailer, which the Los Angeles County Democratic Party denounced as “despicable.” Waters is black and Frank is openly gay; Boxer is an outspoken feminist and a proponent of environmental legislation.
Two days after the meeting, Sherman (who also condemned the mailer shortly after it was sent in October) endorsed Engel.
“I believe that Eliot will do an outstanding job as ranking member,” Sherman said in a statement on Nov. 16.
Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from American Samoa, is also seeking the post. Faleomavaega can vote in committee, but cannot vote on the House floor. He would be the first delegate to serve as chairman or ranking member of a full committee, according to Politico.
Like Sherman, Engel is a long-serving Jewish incumbent who is seen as reliably pro-Israel. “Rep. Eliot Engel is a fantastic leader,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and former president of The Israel Project, wrote in an e-mail. “He is smart, devoted and has served many years on the committee.”