Kleinman spent heavily and he still lost to Mark Reed, who relied on this prior campaigns and the strong name ID that developed: "Brad Sherman spent $26 a vote. I spent 22 cents."
Conservative all the way, one could say.
The background on this race may help Reed during this election cycle, too.
In 2012, 30 year Democratic veteran Howard Berman fought a bitter general election battle for the new 30th, which included 40% of Berman's former district and 60% of Sherman's.
Berman was a Washington DC politician from way back, and his ties to national politics were so strong, that his efforts abroad diminished his chances at home all the more.
Despite the endorsements of every Democratic Congressman, including the now-retiring Henry Waxman, and major Hollywood names like Barbara Streisand, Berman failed to turn out the vote in his favor.
Democrats in the Valley and DC are still bitter about the outcome. Moderate Republican Susan Shelley's near-win in special election 2013 demonstrates the partisan overlap of West Valley Democrats fed up with Sacramento taxation and spending, waste and fraud, and now a disturbing trend of corruption.
The frustration with Sacramento can play into the Congressional race, too.
In comes Mark Reed.
Campaigning against Sherman in 2010, when the liberal pol still represented the former 27th Congressional District, Reed took in nearly 30% of the vote. In 2012, facing off against the two incumbent Democrats as well as three Republicans, Reed finished third, and Shelly fifth.
From those results, Reed makes the case that Republicans need to stand on their conservative social as well as fiscal principles, even if district voters trend otherwise.
"Conservatives care about fiscal issues and the Constitution. The government should not be involved in telling you how to live your life at all."
That argument deserves more consideration. A pro-life candidate should not shy away from sharing his or her values, which does not necessarily imply that the candidate will impose those values. For conservatives, the government should not be in the business of imposing personal beliefs to begin with.
Back to the Berman-Sherman fight in 2012. The key issue was contact and communication between the two candidates and the voters.
Berman was a Washington fixture, well-known for his foreign policy experience and legislative advocacy on behalf of the entertainment industry. His focus in Congress cost him with constituents.
Brad Sherman was a local creature, paid attention to the voters, reached out to constituents, and thus he had a stronger presence in the district. The race was his to win.
Berman's desperation came through during the Pierce College debate, which almost got physical:
Berman: "He knows exactly what I'm talking. . .you see, he's either delusional. . .
The point of their disagreement? Which lawmaker was the first to introduce "DREAM Act" legislation, a liberal talking point which both agreed on (as much as just about everything else, which made the general election fight all the more contentious until the end)
The rancor has remained in the 30th, according to Mark Reed, who despite two prior losses, is convinced that with well-laid plans and structured out reach to all voters, regardless of party affiliation, he can ride the wave of voter discontent and carry this district out of Sherman's hands.
I want to agree, and there is plenty of evidence out there, in California as well as other liberal bastions, that Republicans can do quite well in majority Democratic districts.
"Valley residents are conservative", Reed assures me. When it comes to our own money, who isn't?
Recognizing the challenge of reaching out to all voters with less money than a well-funded liberal incumbent, Reed counts on his support from two prominent, Democrats attorneys in the region, along with growing outreach to other Democrats.
He has also formed strong ties with the former Democratic incumbent Howard Berman, who will lend his support (albeit no endorsement because of lobbyist ties) to Reed's campaign.
As for Sherman, previous experience with constituents may suggest that they are ready for a change, too. He has faced voter discontent time and again. In one meeting, he lashed out a constituent who challenged his credentials on Israel. In a town hall meeting at El Camino Charter High School, constituents interrupted him about the Affordable Care Act, which has not increased access to quality health care or affordable coverage. Voters also assailed the Congressman on the illegal immigration issue. While he claimed that the current laws were not working, audience members shouted him down: "You won't enforce them!"
Sherman is facing heavy blowback on Obamacare and immigration, key issues which Reed can capitalize on for an upset.
Still, bare statistics force us to ask: "Is Mark Reed delusional?"
Reed counters that he is in it to win it, and with clear plans to reach out to every voter, ignoring party affiliation, which has become less reliable or even relevant, Reed's prior experience, name recognition, clear and conservative platform, and bold agenda may get him into Sherman's seat this November.