The Hill’s 50 races to watch: Page 42 of 50

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California 30th District

Brad Sherman (D) vs Howard Berman (D)

The redrawn 30th district in Southern California pits two veteran House Democrats against each other in one of the most closely watched member-vs.-member battles of 2012.

Rep. Howard Berman is the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has won the backing of most establishment Democrats in both California and Washington. But Rep. Brad Sherman has the edge, because two-thirds of the new district is made up of his current constituency. He’s also known for his constant presence in his district, while Berman has forged tighter friendships on Capitol Hill and among the Hollywood donor community.

The November election is a rematch of sorts. Because of California’s new nonpartisan primary rules, Sherman and Berman each advanced to the general election in the heavily Democratic district after finishing first and second, respectively, in the primary. Sherman topped Berman in the June match-up, 42 percent to 32 percent, making him the clear early favorite. 

While the two liberals have few substantive policy differences, Berman has made a bid for the district’s Republican vote by touting the endorsements of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The hard-fought race took a sharp turn in October when, during a heated exchange at a debate, Sherman grabbed Berman around the shoulder and said, “Do you want to get into this?” As the two shouted at each other, with their faces almost touching, police intervened. Sherman said the next day he regretted touching Berman.

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