Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) won a race in the 30th Congressional District over rival Democrat Howard Berman, signaling an end to a long and expensive campaign.
Berman conceded the races early Wednesday. The election effectively ends the long Congressional career of Berman, who at 71 is the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs committee.
"I congratulate Brad... who will have the honor and solemn responsibility of representing the San Fernando Valley in the 113th Congress," Berman said in a statement. "I will do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition."
The two former colleagues were dragged into a race that was one of dirtiest and most expensive in the nation after redistricting threw them into the same district - and a new California law led to candidates from the same party facing each other in a general election.
The race to represent the 30th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley drew national attention for its unprecedented rancor and expense.
Thrown together by redistricting and a new California law that allows members of the same party to run against each other, the two incumbents have been circling each other like a pair of snarling pit bulls.
Residents in the district were buried with lurid mailers in which each man takes exaggerated pot shots at the other, and reporters were inundated with press releases aimed at luring them into writing hit pieces on one candidate or the other.
It got so heated that Sherman grabbed Berman at a recent debate and appeared to challenge him to a fistfight.
The bizarre battle was made even stranger by the common wisdom – particularly among national media weighting in on the race – that the two men are so similar that it really doesn’t matter which one wins.
In the end, differences in personal style - and the greater familiarity of Sherman to voters in the district, may have made the difference.
Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said the two men represent classic – and different – styles of legislators.
Berman, he said, is an insider, focusing on the work in Washington and able to build on his relationships to make and influence policy. Sherman may be less of a mover in Washington, but he is considerably more visible back home in the district – in part because the new district is mostly made up of the one he has represented for 16 years.
“This race is a fabulous test of the home-style and the insider-legislator model of politics,” Sonenshein said.
Personal differences like these, he said, will become more important and pronounced in California politics, Sonenshein predicted, as more candidates of the same party are pitted against each other.