Berman, Sherman meet in first forum of hot congressional race
In their first public confrontation since deciding to run for the same new San Fernando Valley congressional district, Democratic Reps. Howard L. Berman and Brad Sherman traded barbs at a candidates forum in Woodland Hills on Thursday night.
Sherman went on the attack in his opening remarks, saying "Howard's been very effective on the wrong side" of several issues. He pressed Berman throughout the evening to sign a pledge aimed at blunting the effects of "super PACs." He wanted Berman to give to the U.S. Treasury an amount equalling any money these independent committees spend on his behalf.
Berman said Sherman "doesn't have the skills to get his positions through."
The two Republicans in the race, author Susan Shelley and actor/businessman Mark Reed, who unsuccessfully challenged Sherman previously, also participated in the forum, which was sponsored by the Woodland Hills/Tarzana Chamber of Commerce. The district is strongly Democratic and is widely expected to end up in either Berman's or Sherman's hands in November.
About 300 people attended the standing-room only event. Audience members were not allowed to ask questions; those came from the moderator.
Sherman's and Berman's homes both ended up in the new 30th District, which was part of the political maps drawn earlier this year by a citizens commission. That set up a clash between two seasoned liberal Democrats who share many of the same views and whose battle is likely to become one of the most expensive, and most widely watched, House races in history.
As if to symbolize the tough economy, the forum was held in an empty shopping center space that once housed a sporting goods store.
Photo: Rep. Howard L. Berman shakes hands with Rep. Brad Sherman at the conclusion of a candidate's forum for a Valley congressional seat at the Westfield Promenade shopping mall in Woodland Hills. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times