Bill Boyarsky
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Big bucks for Berman super PAC

The super PAC supporting Rep. Howard Berman is prepared to spend $1.2 million on mailings and cable TV advertising in the final weeks of his intense campaign against Rep. Brad Sherman in the San Fernando Valley.

“We’re moving forward, raising money and doing fine,” said Marc Nathanson, the financier and cable TV executive who heads the PAC, the Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman. He said John Shallman, a well-known local political consultant, is shaping the advertisements.

I talked to Nathanson on the telephone after receiving e-mail from Stephanie Daily, a veteran political fundraiser now working for the pro-Berman PAC asking prospective donors for $1 million in the next two weeks.

Nathanson said the advertising campaign would highlight Sherman’s acceptance of financial support from super PACs run by the Carpenters Union and the National Assn. of Realtors. A taste of that was in the Daily e-mail: “Millions have been spent by special interest super PACS attacking Howard.”

At the outset of the campaign, Sherman criticized Berman for the super PAC, and said the two candidates should refuse such support. Parke Skelton, who is running the Sherman campaign, confirmed that Sherman is accepting support from the union and realtors PACs. “We tried repeatedly to forego super PACs and he (Berman) laughed us off the stage. This is bound to be what happens,” Skelton said. He said the carpenters supported Sherman for his stand on trade and the realtors for the congressman’s efforts to revise loan limits, which helped Valley residents buy homes.

Nathanson said the PAC would spend a total of $2 million by the time the campaign is over, counting both the primary and general election campaigns.

One message, he said, would be that “Brad has terribly inflated his record” and that he is a “very weak, unimportant player who does very little legislatively.” He said that record would be compared with Berman’s on matters such as Israel, a major issue in a district with many Jewish constituents. The advertisements will also counter Sherman’s criticisms of Berman’s trips abroad, which Nathanson said were part of Berman’s job as chair and now ranking member of the House foreign affairs committee.

And, Nathanson said, other ads will remind voters of the debate that turned somewhat physical last Thursday. The candidates argued over Sherman’s contention that Berman did not author the Dream Act, which would have permitted young immigrants here without documents to stay in the country legally. Sherman insisted another congressman was the author. This angered Berman and the two had a disagreement that ultimately saw Sherman putting his arm around Berman—not in a friendly manner—and a sheriff’s deputy separating them.

Jonah Lowenfeld reported in the Jewish Journal that a group of immigration reform advocates said Berman, indeed, was the Dream Act author and that Sherman was slow to back it.

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