Dem Reps. Berman, Sherman cruise to general election face-off

Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) will face off in November after cruising to a top-two finish in California's newly minted all-party primary Tuesday evening.

The Associated Press called the race soon after polls closed. Sherman led Berman by 39 to 34 percent with 3 percent of precincts reporting. They will continue their heavyweight battle through November — both have millions left in the bank, following big spending on both sides in the heavily Democratic district.

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Sherman has a geographic edge — most of the combined district comprises his old territory than Berman's — and begins the general election with a $2 million cash advantage after Berman spent more heavily to ensure he'd survive the runoff, a fact his campaign was quick to point out Tuesday.

But neither side will likely be short on cash, and Berman has the backing of a number of high-profile Democrats including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Berman's campaign used an earlier internal poll from Sherman to argue they had the momentum. 

"According to Brad Sherman's previously released internal polls, we have seized the momentum in this race. Early returns show that Congressman Berman has doubled his support from 17 percent to 34 percent. Sherman, on the other hand, hit his ceiling, stalling at 40 percent," Berman adviser Brandon Hall said in a statement released a bit before 1 a.m. ET. "Tonight is far from over, but we’re confident about our momentum moving into the general election."

Sherman’s campaign, however, countered, saying that he held the fundraising edge in the general election, with a $2.1 million cash advantage over Berman.

"They dominated the airwaves," Sherman said, speaking to supporters, shortly after the race was called. "They will not dominate the airwaves in October."

"We ran a bare-bones campaign in the primary," he said. "That was the exhibition game. Now we're on to the real game and our team is ready to go." 

This story was updated at 5:15 a.m.