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Howard Berman gets a thumbs-up from — Darrell Issa?

Republican congressman's praise for his Democratic colleague elicits cynicism from the camp of Berman's Democratic election rival Brad Sherman. Berman and Sherman got remapped into the same district last year.

April 05, 2012|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times
  • Longtime San Fernando Valley Rep. Howard Berman, left, is running in a newly redrawn district against colleague Rep. Brad Sherman and a number of others.
Longtime San Fernando Valley Rep. Howard Berman, left, is running in a newly… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

Rep. Howard Berman, who is locked in a pitched reelection battle with fellow liberal Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, likes to say he can work with Republicans to get things done. But even he may have been surprised when a conservative GOP colleague offered him some effusive support recently.

"I don't tell people to vote for Democrats," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) told an audience at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "If there were a good Republican in the race, I wouldn't tell you to vote for Howard, probably.

"But the fact is, Howard is in the race of his lifetime, and I want him back."

Issa made the remarks Sunday at the entertainment industry's American Spirit Awards, where he and Berman were being honored. An audiotape was sent to a Daily Variety editor, Ted Johnson, who wrote about the episode on the publication's Wilshire & Washington blog.

Issa also said Berman was among the few members of Congress who "when they say they are going to do something, they put the power into it."

Neither the Issa nor the Berman campaigns publicized the remarks, and neither responded to requests for comment Wednesday. The Sherman campaign did.

"We all know politics makes for strange bedfellows, but this political romance is stunning in its cynicism and implausibility," said Sherman consultant Parke Skelton. He called Issa's remarks "a clear sign Howard Berman is desperate and losing his cool in the first serious election he's had in decades."

Sherman and Berman, whose residences were tossed into the same San Fernando Valley congressional district in last year's redrawing of the state's voting maps, are competing in a nationally watched race that is expected to set a spending record for a House contest.

Three little-known Republicans are also in the race: author Susan Shelley, businessman/rancher/actor Mark Reed and businessman/restaurateur Navraj Singh, as well as another Democrat, Vince Gilmore, and Green Party member Michael W. Powelson, a college professor.

The American Spirit event is sponsored by the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors. Issa and Berman have sponsored legislation helpful to the entertainment industry.

jean.merl@latimes.com

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