A pair of incumbent-vs.-incumbent elections Tuesday will resolve two races that have divided Democrats and send at least one current House member packing.
Redistricting changes in California and New Jersey have created two contests between sitting lawmakers: Bill Pascrell vs. Steve Rothman in New Jersey's northeastern 9th District and Howard Berman vs. Brad Sherman in California's Santa Monica-area 30th District.
In New Jersey, Rothman's hometown was drawn out of his district, so he chose to move his residence and run against Pascrell in the new 9th District.
The contest has thrown the state delegation into upheaval as Democratic lawmakers take sides. Divisions extend all the way to President Barack Obama, who has dispatched top adviser David Axelrod to campaign for Rothman, who backed him over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary. Former President Bill Clinton has campaigned for Pascrell, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
The candidates hold similar ideologies, which has turned the race into a contest of who has been a better representative and who is more devoted to Democratic Party principles.
The winner of the primary has favorable odds in November in the new, heavily Democratic district.
In California's 30th, Berman is the more senior and established of the candidates. Berman was first elected in 1982 and is the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and a top member of the Judiciary Committee. He has drawn a wealth of high-profile support, including endorsements from Gov. Jerry Brown, the state's two Democratic senators—Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Sherman, who was first elected in 1996, has been endorsed by Bill Clinton, many local Democrats and others.
Due to the state's electoral process, however, this may not be the last face-off between the two candidates. In California, the "top two" primary system means that the top two candidates in Tuesday's all-party primary advance to November regardless of party. If both Sherman and Berman make the cut, they will be pitted against one another again this fall.
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