The race for California’s newly-drawn 30th congressional district is shaping up to be one of the most contentious — and expensive — in the country. Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, who represent the 27th and 28th districts respectively, were thrown into the ring together thanks to redistricting and California’s “top two” primary system.
The new district is made up half from Sherman’s old district and a quarter from Berman’s; the remaining 25 percent comes from the old 30th district. The two candidates, both Jewish, have similar voting records but differ on issues such as the economy, immigration and higher education.
In the long and heated race, both candidates have taken figurative swings at at each other — Sherman accused Berman of overpaying his brother for political consulting, while Berman charged Sherman with profiting from interest charged to his own campaign accounts.
But last week, in a debate held at Pierce College, things literally got physical. After Berman accused his opponent of being, “either delusional or a liar,” Sherman approached Berman, put an arm around him and shouted, “You wanna get into this?” while a police guard hovered nearby. The incident captured national attention after a video was released by Berman’s campaign.
Both candidates later released official statements expressing regret over their actions, characterizing the race as “emotional.” Berman and Sherman addressed the issue on AirTalk:
Sherman's statement: "As you know I think that the voters are entitled to a dignified discussion of the issues. When you go to a 60-minute debate you deserve 60 minutes of dignified discussion. And for one minute it certainly wasn't dignified and the voters deserve better than that."
Berman's statement: "I've had countless debates over the years in public office with Republican opponents, in my election contests with legislators over issues. I've never seen anything like the inappropriate conduct that Brad exhibited at that moment. This wasn't about people being denied one out of 60 minutes, this was about someone who lost control, who got physical and threatened to have a fight and who even today, four days later, hasn't come to terms with conduct that I don't think is appropriate for a public officials, particularly one who is speaking to community college students, many of these people are first-time voters. These aren't the Valley values he likes to talk about' … I regret that Brad misstated my record, distorted it, lied about it, started screaming and shouting…I never came close to his face, and never did anything that would have justify that reaction."
With only a few weeks left to go, will they be able to keep things civil? How will these two impress their new constituents? Who will emerge to represent the 30th district?
Howard Berman, Congressman (D-28), which includes Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, Van Nuys, North Hollywood
Brad Sherman, Congressman (D-27), which includes the west San Fernando Valley cities of Sherman Oaks, Reseda, Northridge, and Porter Ranch