By Luke Vargas
In California’s 30th congressional district, a debate between two long-serving Democratic Congressman narrowly avoided coming to blows last night over the issue of immigration reform.
As a result of a new California law that does away with state primary elections and places the two top vote recipients head to head, regardless of party affiliation, a contentious battle is underway between 14-term Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) and 8-term Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA). one of who’s career in Washington is poised to come to a screeching halt.
With one of the two men’s careers in Washington poised to come to a screeching halt, the candidates met last night to debate at Pierce College in Los Angeles, and the topic of immigration quickly bubbled to the top.
After Rep. Brad Sherman incorrectly claimed that it was Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), not Rep. Berman, that had authored the DREAM Act legislation, Rep. Berman called the statement “delusional.”
As seen in the video below, it was at that point when Sherman rose from his chair, wrapped his arm around Berman, and shouted: “do you want to get into this?” Amid the cheers of the young crowd, a Sheriff’s deputy maneuvered behind the pair to make sure the debate remained civil.
Although neither man appeared inclined to seriously instigate a fight, that hasn’t stopped supporters of Berman from seizing the opportunity to rally behind their candidate and vouch for his decades of involvement on immigration reform.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Friday, immigration policy expert and Director of America’s Voice, Frank Sharry, responded directly to Sherman’s challenge in the debate.
“We’re here to say that, yeah, we do want to get into this,” Sharry said. “We want to set the record straight about the fact that Howard Berman is one of the great champions of immigrants and immigration reform.”
Asked to characterize Sherman’s actions, Sharry said that “anyone who has seen the video can hardly conclude that Brad Sherman has the composure to be a member of Congress, but we’ll let the voters of the district decide for themselves.”
In this year’s June 5th Primary Election, Rep. Sherman bested Berman by a margin of 10%. The two men’s names will appear on the November 6th presidential election ballot.