Berman, Sherman duke it out in San Fernando Valley
Rep. Brad Sherman jumped to an early lead over fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman when many of the absentee ballot results were posted shortly after the polls closed Tuesday.
Sherman led Berman 39.3%-34.2%, with only about 1,200 votes separating them; the five other candidates trailed far behind. Republican Mark Reed was in third place, with 12.7%.
The two seasoned liberals are waging a high-cost, nationally watched contest for the same San Fernando Valley congressional seat.
If both men finish in the top two, as expected, their battle will continue to the Nov. 6 general election under the state's new election system, which abolished party primaries for congressional, state Senate and state Assembly races.
The other candidates on the ballot were Republicans Mark Reed, Susan Shelley and Navraj Singh; Democrat Vince Gilmore; and Green Party member Michael W. Powelson.
Berman, 71, started gearing up for the race later than Sherman, 56, whose current district overlaps more than half of the new one, making the younger congressman familiar to more voters. But Berman spent more money on political mail and cable TV ads and tried to appeal to Republican voters as well as Democrats and nonpartisans.
-- Jean Merl
Photo: Brad Sherman, left, and Howard Berman at a candidates debate this year. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times