Bill Boyarsky
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Hot times before big debate

If the last few days are any indication, the Jewish Journal debate starring Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman at Temple Judea in Tarzana Tuesday night should be pretty intense.

A third debater in the contest for the West San Fernando Valley congressional seat is Republican Mark Reed.

So far, attention has been focused on Berman vs. Sherman. At the Democratic state convention in San Diego last weekend, Berman supporter Betty Yee, a member of the State Board of Equalization, made waves with a blast at Sherman.

Yee, who was a veteran Sacramento legislative staffer before her election to the board, handed out a letter to delegates saying: “It would be insane, self-destructive and wrong—horribly wrong for the Democratic Party to support Brad Sherman against Howard Berman….Somebody has to say this—and I guess it’s going to be me, And I just did.
“Oh, you want your back slapped, Brad may be your guy,” she wrote. “But if you want someone to protect impoverished farm workers…women’s rights…immigrant rights, Howard Berman is your man.”

In the end, Sherman fell short of getting the convention endorsement. His campaign manager, Parke Skelton, told me he didn’t think the blast from Northern Californian Yee would hurt Sherman,. “She’s a good person, a great policy person but I don’t think her endorsement means much to voters in the district,” Skelton said.

Skelton, meanwhile, attacked Berman for telling MSNBC’s Chuck Todd he had no Super PACs in the race. These political committees can accept unlimited corporate contributions under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and Skelton noted reports that one supporting Berman had accepted a $10,000 contribution from PG&E. Actually, after telling Todd “I have no Super PACs, “ Berman backtracked and said “I have done everything I can to discourage any Super PAC creation and I have done nothing to encourage them.”

This is pretty small time stuff and candidates in one of the nation’s highest profile congressional races should be capable of rising above it and talking policy. Whether they do or not is up to the questioners, That would be Rob Eshman, publisher and editor-in-chief of Tribe Media Corp., publisher of the Journal; Journal reporter Jonah Lowenfeld and me. It should be a good show,


Another Republican candidate, Susan Shelley, was not included in the debate and has protested vigorously.

Eshman said, “Susan Shelley simply didn't meet our debate criteria. She didn’t file a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. She didn't have any significant support, endorsements, didn't show up in the polls. She simply didn’t meet our criteria." Shelley said in an e-mail to me, “As you know, I'm Jewish, and a Republican, and socially moderate. It's my belief that Rob Eshman is trying to hide my candidacy from Jewish voters who might be inclined to cast a protest vote against the Democrats.”

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