As Republican Todd Zink challenges incumbent Democrat Fran Pavley for her state senate seat in California, independent voters in the district have an interesting set of choices. The California State Senate race in the 27th District overlaps with the race for California’s 30th Congressional District between two Democrats, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman.
It may surprise some to learn that, even in a heavily Democratic-leaning state like California, two Democrats, and not a Democrat and a Republican, are running for the same seat. Berman and Sherman are able to run against one another in the San Fernando Valley district due to California’s open primary, which allows the top two vote-getters to face off in an election.
Just like the Capps/Maldonado race for District 24, Berman and Sherman are facing off as a result of redistricting. Both candidates are recognized liberals. However, to gain independent and more conservative voters, the two have been advertising their credentials as individuals who cross party lines. Both Sherman and Berman have recently emphasized their warm relationships with Republicans to sway potential voters.
Berman currently represents the 28th District and seeks to win the race for District 30. Since both he and Sherman are Democrats, however, both men are seeking to dip into the Republican voting base by playing up their GOP alliances and endorsements.
On September 11, Howard Berman’s campaign announced that he scored the endorsements of popular national senators John McCain (R), Lindsey Graham (R), and Joe Lieberman (I). Lieberman’s ringing endorsement noted of Berman, “When it comes to defending America’s national security, upholding America’s values, and standing up for America’s most important allies, Howard Berman has been an invaluable and principled leader.”
According to his website, Berman has another affiliation that may interest his potential Republican and conservative electorate: He “is the chief Democratic sponsor of HR 306, a resolution that calls on Turkey to return confiscated churches and allow true freedom of worship for all Christian minorities.”
Brad Sherman, however, is still leading in some polls. He, like his election opponent, is also a serving congressman representing District 27. He also gained endorsements from some local Republican officials, but not on the scale of Berman’s endorsements. Sherman can, however, play to more conservative voters’ interest in foreign policy. In the 112th Congress, he co-sponsored legislation such as HR 1905, a resolution to “strengthen Iran sanctions laws for the purpose of compelling Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening activities, and for other purposes.”
He also supported H.R. 1321: “To continue restrictions against and prohibit diplomatic recognition of the Government of North Korea, and for other purposes.”
As the race between Sherman and Berman for Congress plays out, Todd Zink and Fran Pavley may be directly affected in their own bid to win the state senate seat for District 27. Zink (R), a decorated marine, war veteran and deputy district attorney, has been endorsed by District Attorney Steve Cooley, State Senator Tony Strickland, and the California Small Business Association.
His major issues include addressing the state’s high unemployment rate by “creat[ing] tax incentives for businesses that hire unemployed veterans,” “creating a Commission on Small Business, designed to gather small business owners from around California,” “Introduc[ing] a law requiring the state to create a 20-year infrastructure and funding plan,” and voting down “job-killer legislation that has cost our state significantly over the past twenty years.”
As a young, robust candidate, Zink is attracting the eyes and ears of many Californians looking for some economic respite. His showing has been surprisingly strong, considering he is running against an incumbent state senator.
State Senator Fran Pavley, who was a middle school teacher for nearly three decades, was endorsed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the California Police Chiefs Association. Her major issues include a heavy emphasis on education, jobs, the economy, and environmental issues.
There may be a silver lining in this election season for local independent voters. As Berman and Sherman seek to shore up their Republican and moderate credentials, the winner may feel a particular need to moderate their more liberal stances.
The congressional election in CD-30 will impact the state senate race in District 27. If Todd Zink wins, the winner of the congressional race may move to the middle on some issues. If Pavley wins, she may be humbled by independent support as well. Independents have the power to change the trajectory of California this election season, and the representatives must know this and respond accordingly.