Besides Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, who are engaged in a nationally watched, high-spending contest for a San Fernando Valley seat, Republicans Susan Shelley and Mark Reed participated in the candidates' forum at the Valley Performing Arts Center.
Forum planners said they invited the "leading" candidates, which meant no spot on stage for Democrat Vince Gilmore or Republican Navraj Singh.
The two-hour forum was one of several held since new political maps last year put Berman and Sherman in the same district and set up the contentious contest in the strongly Democratic district. It broke little new ground, despite the best efforts of radio host Bill Handel and CSUN questioners.
Sherman kept up his needling of Berman, including challenging him to blunt the effect of so-called super PACS and questioning when he was going to release his income tax returns. Sherman released his tax returns April 17 and challenged Berman to do the same.
"Friday," Berman promised at the debate. "How come your Xerox machine is so slow?" asked Sherman.
Berman touted his endorsements and sparred briefly with moderator Handel when he said a Berman answer about how to deal with the federal deficit wasn't understandable. "I guess I'm not Handel's messiah," quipped Berman.
Photo: Congressional candidates, from left, Susan Shelley, Howard Berman, Mark Reed and Brad Sherman debate Monday night. Credit: www.csunas.org