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Republicans join fray in Valley congressional dustup

September 29, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Many observers expected the fight between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional seat would become one of the costliest House races in the nation next year, and it already has generated plenty of attention with handicappers speculating on which of the two will  prevail.

Not so fast, say the two Republicans in the race, novelist Susan Shelley and actor, rancher and businessman Mark Reed.

Shelley believes her moderate views on social issues -- she’s pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage -- will appeal to those who want an alternative to both incumbents. Reed, who ran against Sherman in 2010, describes himself as "an advocate for constitutional government as specified by our founding fathers."  

Politics-watchers deem it pretty unlikely that a Republican could win in this strongly Democratic district but acknowledge that some big changes -- including the recent redrawing of districts and the state’s new "top two" primary system -- will add unpredictable wrinkles in 2012. 

The November runoff will be between the top two vote getters in the June primary, even if they are from the same party.  Most expect that will be Berman and Sherman, but one of those seasoned congressmen will be locked out of the fall contest if a Republican manages to come in second in June. 

In other looming intraparty fights for recently redrawn congressional districts,  Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) picked up backing from Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), while state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg endorsed state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), the campaigns announced this week.

Hahn's home is in the new 44th District, which includes the L.A. Harbor Area,  Compton, South Gate and Lynwood. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) and Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton) also plan to run there, and Hall earlier announced endorsements from several local elected officials in the new district.

Calderon, running in the newly drawn 38th District in eastern Los Angeles County, faces competition from Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), who also is lining up endorsements.

-- Jean Merl