Brad Sherman and Howard Berman both want to represent California’s new 30th Congressional District. Sherman beat Berman by 10 points in the June primary, but they are facing-off again in November according to the new rules about “top 2” primaries. They are both Democrats.
The Democrats in the district may all have already made up their minds about whom to support, but that still leaves Republicans with a possible key role in determining who represents the overwhelmingly-Democratic district in Congress.
Two Republican Senators, John McCain and Lindsay Graham, and Independent Joseph Lieberman today endorsed Berman for the seat. Here’s what Sherman’s office had to say in response:
“THREE SENATORS BACK BERMAN:
“CITE HIS STRONG SUPPORT OF THE IRAQ WAR
“Senator's COS confirms endorsements are a result of Sherman questioning Berman's pro-Iraq War stance.
“Today the Howard Berman campaign released endorsements from Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joseph Lieberman.
“The Sherman campaign spoke to the Chief of Staff of one of the Senators this morning and was told: ‘We have seen the mailers you sent out attacking Howard Berman on Iraq. Iraq is very important to us.’
“As the Almanac of American Politics explains:
“Berman played a critical role in winning passage by a wide margin of the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002. He strongly supported military action in Iraq, and in September came out from behind the scenes and organized a group of Democrats who shared his views. They broke off from the negotiations between Republicans and John Spratt (a moderate Democrat and senior member of the Armed Services Committee) who ended up offering up an alternative to the administration’s resolution, and [Berman] talked directly to the Bush Administration. He didn’t seek the permission of Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, but Berman’s discussions led to Gephardt’s agreement with the administration on the terms of the resolution -- talks that undercut the demands of Spratt, Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph Biden.
“’It seems odd that Berman wants to highlight his role in initiating the Iraq War fiasco,’ stated Sherman campaign consultant Parke Skelton. ‘Berman was the key organizer in the House for the passage of the resolution and worked with the Bush Administration to undermine Democratic efforts to prevent or limit the scope of the war. When Brad Sherman offered the Sherman Amendment in the Foreign Affairs Committee to prevent the war if Hussein allowed unfettered weapons inspections, Berman voted No.’
“Berman was one of the very last Democrats in Congress supporting the Iraq War, voting in lockstep with the Bush Administration until mid-2007.”
Will Republicans who supported the Iraq War now be more likely to support Berman on the basis of their shared support for that undertaking? Or will anti-Iraq War Democrats be reminded of Berman's role in the instigation of that conflict, losing him more Democratic votes than he gains from like-minded Republicans?
The election is on November 6th.