Double Take: Two Eerily Similar Congressmen Debate in California

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Howard Berman and Brad Sherman both represent congressional districts in California's San Fernando Valley. They're both Democrats. They're both Jewish. They're both UCLA graduates. And they have similar stances on everything from Iran to medical marijuana. But as Molly Ball reports in this month’s Atlantic, because of redistricting, these friendly neighbors are suddenly running against each other for the same seat.

Now that Berman and Sherman are competitors, they’re struggling to distinguish themselves. There were plenty of contentious moments at a recent debate in Tarzana, California, but the tension was less about ideology than leadership credentials. Was it Berman or Sherman who proposed the toughest sanctions on Iran? Which of them has been a more loyal champion of the entertainment industry? (A Republican candidate stood onstage with them, but neither Sherman nor Berman wasted much energy arguing against his radically different views.)

There are differences in personal style: Sherman talks a bit tougher, while Berman comes across as the elder statesman. But as these highlights from the debate suggest, this election seems to be less about what needs to be done than who is doing it better.


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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is The Atlantic's digital features editor. More

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor at Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel.

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