Brad Sherman gave Howard Berman a merciless, 20-point beatdown last week, ending the distinguished elder statesman's career in Congress.
But victory did not come without cost. Today, Sherman withdrew his candidacy to become ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in the face of stiff opposition from fellow Democrats.
Berman was a widely respected figure on Capitol Hill, and many representatives were not happy with the bare-knuckle nature of Sherman's campaign against him.
“There's a lot of hostility to Brad right now,” one California representative told Politico.
The fallout is not that surprising. Sherman is much more popular in his San Fernando Valley district than on Capitol Hill, while Berman's natural constituency is among his colleagues in Congress.
Sherman and Berman were forced into an ugly and expensive intraparty contest thanks to redistricting. Sherman won in a rout, 60-40 percent.
As was expected, both did better in the portions of the new district that they represented before. But Sherman did much better in Berman's old district than Berman did in Sherman's, which explains his sizable victory margin.
According to an analysis released by the Sherman campaign, Sherman beat Berman 67-33 percent in his old district, which made up about half of the new district. Berman beat Sherman by just 51-49 percent in Berman's old district, which made up a quarter of the new district. In Henry Waxman's old district, which made up most of the rest of the new district, Sherman beat Berman, 62-38 percent. It all adds up to a major league drubbing.
But just as Berman was on unfavorable ground in the San Fernando Valley, so was Sherman in no position to win a fight in the corridors of Washington.
The battle took place in the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is in need of a new ranking Democrat because the current one is Howard Berman. He's out. Next in line in order of seniority is Rep. Gary Ackerman, who's retiring. After him comes Eni Faleomavaega, who doesn't vote because he's from American Samoa.
The next in order of seniority is Brad Sherman. So if the House Democrats were to follow the seniority rules, Sherman would get the job.
But the Democratic caucus is hopping mad over an independent mailer that supported Sherman's campaign. The mailer, which went to Republican households, showed pictures of Democrats Maxine Waters, Barney Frank and Barbara Boxer, and noted that they all supported Berman. Though Sherman denounced the mailer and said he had nothing to do with it, Democrats are livid about it anyway and not inclined to cut Sherman any slack.
Realizing that he had no shot in a vote within his caucus, Sherman withdrew today and backed Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.
“Yesterday Congressman Engel announced that he had the support of the majority of the Democratic members on the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Sherman said in a statement to Politico. “This combined with Eliot's 18 years of outstanding work on the Committee have caused me to end my candidacy and support Eliot Engel.”