An incumbent-versus-incumbent fight in California has become increasingly nasty, with congressional colleagues of two House Democrats picking sides and attacking their chosen candidates’ opponents with robo-calls.
After California’s political map was redrawn into new districts, Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman found themselves in the same district. And now they’re pitted against one another by a state law that puts the top two primary vote-getters in the general election — even if they’re from the same political party.
Two other members of the California congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman and Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly, have recorded robo-calls asking voters to vote for Berman.
Both cited a near-physical altercation between Berman and Sherman at a debate this month.
Berman’s campaign posted a video of the interaction, in which Sherman grabbed Berman’s shoulder and pulled him toward his chest, and shouted, “You want to get into this?”
Moments earlier, Berman had stepped close to Sherman — though he had not touched him. Sherman responded, “Get out of my face.”
Gallegly faults Sherman for his aggressive gesture.
“In my 13 terms in the United States House of Representatives, I’ve never made a recorded campaign call like this before. But I firmly believe Howard Berman deserves your vote. At a recent forum in front of valley students, Brad Sherman became angry, forcibly grabbed Howard, and challenged him to a fight. This is no way to behave, especially in front of students. Please, do not send Brad Sherman back to Congress. His behavior is unacceptable,” Gallegly says.
Waxman calls Sherman’s campaign “an embarrassment,” and says he “lost control at a recent debate in front of college students. Sherman’s aggressiveness is one of the reasons that almost all of his colleagues, including Senators Feinstein and Boxer, are supporting Howard Berman,” says Waxman.
“Please do not send Brad Sherman back to Congress. His behavior is unacceptable,” he concludes.
Earlier Wednesday, Berman earned the endorsement of Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip.
“Howard Berman is a highly-respected leader sought after by his colleagues from both parties for his expertise in both domestic and foreign policy, and world affairs,” Hoyer said in a statement posted on Berman’s Facebook page. “Howard Berman is respected by both Republicans and Democrats because of his approach as a legislator and decency as an individual. It would be a great loss to the country if Howard Berman did not return to serve in the Congress of the United States.”