Prop 14 Could Change How San Fernando Valley Congressional Race Plays Out

Many us who watched the state's independent redistricting commission drawing congressional lines collectively sighed when we saw the newly drawn lines in the San Fernando Valley. Because of the way the lines were drawn two incumbent Congressman, both Jewish Democrats with similar voting records that are determined to win, will face off in elections this year.

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Representatives Howard Berman and Brad Sherman and running for the same congressional seat. The two prodigious fundraisers have wasted no time. Reports that came out this week show that Berman has raised a total of $2.9 million and Sherman has raised $3.7 million.

The Berman-Sherman matchup is expected to be one of the most expensive Congressional races this year. The fundraising reports support this conclusion. But savvy voters must ask themselves an important question: will such a matchup ever occur?

In 2010 Californians passed Proposition 14, which created an open primary, top two election system. Under Proposition 14, any voter can vote for any candidate in the primary election and then the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, proceed to the general election. This measure is intended to get more moderate, consensus-building public officials elected. But it will also likely make campaigns more expensive as candidates will have to appeal to the entire electoral (not just their party) in two different campaigns.


One might initially assume that Berman and Sherman, the front runners in terms of name recognition and fundraising, will proceed to the general election. However, there are options. Berman and Sherman, so similar in so many ways, could split the vote. We've seen this phenomenon play out when an actor is up for an Oscar in two different movies. Another option is that most of the Sherman voters go to Berman, or vice versa. Put another way, a Berman-Sherman matchup is not guaranteed.

For now the public can read the tea leaves and the fundraising numbers to attempt to divine how things will end up after the open primary.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government in Los Angeles every week. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

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