Rep Brad Sherman, left, debates Rep. Howard Berman in the race for the 30th… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)
To no surprise of San Fernando Valley voters who were inundated with campaign ads, robo calls and political mail, Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman set a record for spending by candidates in a California congressional race — shelling out more than $11.7 million between them, according to new campaign finance reports.
When spending by outside groups is added, the total outlay in the bitter contest won by Sherman was $16.3 million, making it one of the most expensive congressional races in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.
Although the Berman-Sherman race set a Golden State record for spending by the candidates, the San Diego County congressional race won by Democrat Scott Peters over Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray was the costliest in California — $16.8 million — because of the more than $8.7 million spent by outside groups, including the political parties.
Spending on the Berman-Sherman race surpassed the $11.5 million record for a California House race set in 2000 when Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) ousted Republican incumbent James E. Rogan. But there was more outside spending — an estimated $7.5 million — by the political parties and interest groups in the 2000 race. The race between Berman and Sherman, both Democrats, drew about $4.5 million in outside spending.
Sherman outspent Berman, $6 million to $5.7 million.
Bill Bloomfield, a Manhattan Beach businessman running as an independent who lost a bid to replace Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), spent the most of any California House candidate — more than $7.9 million, much of it his own money. The Waxman campaign spent $2.6 million.