In what may be their only public debate, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Woodland Hills) and GOP challenger Jerry Doyle tussled Monday on issues ranging from school vouchers to abortion to gay rights.
At one point, Sherman, who supports abortion rights, heatedly pressed Doyle to state his position. Doyle at first refused to give a direct answer, then said: "I'm adopted. I champion the rights of the unborn."
From the outset, Doyle, a television actor who also has worked as an investment banker with the now-defunct Drexel Burnham Lambert, fired his own volleys at Sherman, chiding the two-term congressman for not debating months earlier.
Doyle's Web site had counted down the days to Monday's debate. No other debates are scheduled.
The half-hour session was taped in Santa Monica for viewing on the Adelphia Cable TV system and was moderated by Adelphia Vice President William Rosendahl.
Libertarian candidate Juan Carlos Ros, a Tarzana resident, also participated. Ros, who is state executive director of his party, summed up his platform with what he called the "4 Ds": devolve from federal to state oversight, deregulate federal rules, delete federal laws and defend the Constitution.
"I want you to be free to run your life as you see fit," he said.
Ros also said he opposes Proposition 38, the school voucher initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot, saying he was concerned that it could lead to regulation of home schooling.
Sherman said he opposes Proposition 38 because it "will take millions from public schools."
Doyle, however, said vouchers would be a start to give parents the choice they desperately want in their children's education.
Doyle also said he opposes legalizing gay marriage. Sherman said he does not disapprove of gay partnerships, but said "the word 'marriage' should not be applied."
Ros said the issue should not be left to the federal government to decide, but rather to the state.
The three, however, did agree on one thing. All of them said the medicinal use of marijuana should be allowed.
In the 24th District, which stretches from the southern San Fernando Valley and Malibu into Calabasas and Thousand Oaks, Sherman's war chest has given him a formidable advantage. He reported raising about $459,000 this year through Sept. 30, according to his latest financial reports. He reported spending $159,000, leaving him about $302,000 on hand.
Doyle reported raising $40,196 through Sept. 30 and spending $51,801. He also lent his campaign $80,000, allowing him to report $68,394 on hand as of Sept. 30.
Ros said his form was not available.
Times correspondent Greg Risling contributed to this story.