Update, 2 a.m.: Berman concedes.
Rep. Brad Sherman has soundly defeated his rival, Rep. Howard Berman, in their bitter, $15 million intra-party battle in the San Fernando Valley.
Just before 2 a.m., Berman sent out a message congratulating Sherman and offering to “do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition.”
Sherman held a 17-point lead in the vote-by-mail ballots, and that margin had extended to 20 points by the time Berman conceded.
Despite the high profile of the race and the millions spent on attack ads and mailers, it appears the race boiled down to simple geography. Sherman started with a tremendous advantage because he represented about half of the new 30th District in the West San Fernando Valley, while Berman represented less than a quarter of it.
In the June primary, which Sherman won by 10 points, each candidate won the portion of the new district that they had represented before. In other words, once voters start choosing an incumbent year after year, it becomes hard to break the habit.
Also tonight, L.A. Councilman Tony Cardenas is sailing to victory in the new East San Fernando Valley Congressional district, which was drawn to elect a Latino. With 40% of the returns in, Cardenas leads 72-28 over David R. Hernandez.
In his statement, Berman also congratulated Cardenas, whom described as “my friend.” For some reason, he did not refer to Sherman that way.
It'll be interesting to see what Berman does now that his 30 years in Congress are over. It's quite possible, given his foreign policy expertise, that he could be up for a position in the Obama administration.