What Do We Lose After Berman-Sherman?


Even in the midst of a bitter campaign, it's clear that Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Howard Berman have plenty in common politically. Since one is certain to lose now that they're running against each other in a redrawn district in the San Fernando Valley, the question for Southern Californians is: what could we lose when one or the other loses?

Here are five answers to that question:

  1. Redundancy: Let's say you have two dolls you really like that are pretty much the same doll. But then you lose one of them. You still have a doll you like, but you are not as rich in dolls. The same is true in this case with balding, Jewish, Hollywood-friendly, pro-union Congressmen from the San Fernando Valley. We'll be down one, so people who care about those issues will be half as well represented.
  2. Foreign policy firepower: This would be especially true if Berman is the loser. He has incomparable experience and seniority on foreign policy matters. Sherman has similar views -- but not the experience.
  3. Seniority: Berman is the more senior member. But Sherman has considerable seniority, too. And you can't add the defeated congressman's seniority to the winner's. Either way, Southern California will have less seniority in office. But this is what voters got when they decided to move to a non-partisan redistricting process that didn't take into account where incumbents live.
  4. Hollywood influence and intellectual property: Berman is a key player on copyright and intellectual property issues, via his spot on the House Judiciary Committee. That's crucial for Hollywood and Southern Californians who make a living on intellectual property. Sherman doesn't have the same experience but will naturally fight for the same group. Of course, the impact of these Congressmen may be overrated -- they were swamped in this year's battle by tech firms to stop anti-piracy legislation.
  5. A labor friend: Sherman is stronger with unions (he's less of a fan of free trade), but Berman has a strong labor background. Either way, labor will have one less friend in Congress.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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