Berman draws on D.C. insiders to boost self, slam rival Sherman
It's always nice when you can get others to make your points for you, and Rep. Howard Berman has found some help among Washington insider organizations in his election battle with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman.
Foreign Policy magazine's website has listed Berman among the 50 most influential Democrats in international affairs. At No. 23, Berman ranked below Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) but ahead of MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow and California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein.
Berman, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is competing with Sherman for the same San Fernando Valley congressional district seat this year, thanks to the state's redrawing of political maps and its new "top two" primary elections system, which allows members of the same party to advance to the general election.
Camp Berman also cited two other knocks on Sherman: Washingtonian magazine put Berman's rival on its list of "meanest" House members, and the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation said Sherman had one of the worst staff retention rates in Congress.
Sherman spokesman John Schwada pooh-poohed the designations, saying Berman's seniority on the Foreign Affairs Committee put him on the list "by default." And he noted that the Washingtonian's "silly rankings derby" in 2008 listed President Obama as a "show horse" and labeled Clinton a "falling star."
And, if "meanest means toughest, Brad's proud to wear that stripe," Schwada said. He said Sherman doesn't allow his staffers to take foreign policy trips paid for by interest groups. "By insider Washington standards, that may be mean," Schwada said, "but by the standards of taxpayers outside the Beltway, that makes a lot of sense."
-- Jean Merl
Photo: Reps. Howard Berman, left, and Brad Sherman at a candidates forum early this year. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times