California Rep. Howard Berman, gripped in a tough re-election battle with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for the same congressional district seat, is expected to get endorsements Monday from two prominent Republican U.S. senators.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, plus Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the former Democrat turned independent, will back Berman, the congressman's campaign confirmed Sunday.
Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in the recently redrawn district in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley 48 percent to 26 percent, both candidates have been courting GOP voters as well as those without party affiliation, who make up about 21 percent of registered voters there.
Berman finished second, 10 points behind Sherman, in the seven-candidate June primary and has been scrambling to make up the difference.
Last year's redrawing of political boundaries put the onetime allies' homes in the same district; the state's new "top two" elections system allowed members of the same party to advance to the general election.
The endorsements come at a crucial time for Berman, who has touted his ability to work with political adversaries in an increasingly polarized House.
"Howard and I have worked on a bipartisan basis on issues ranging from human rights to missile defense," McCain said in a statement provided by the Berman campaign.
Berman, he said, "has a record of bipartisan accomplishment and effectiveness."
Graham credited Berman with key roles in passing legislation "to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, stop arms sales to nations that support terrorism and keep our country safe."
Lieberman cited Berman's work on foreign policy and highlighted his strong support of Israel. "When Israel's leadership needs a friend in Congress, that ally is Howard Berman," Lieberman said.
Sherman also is a strong supporter of Israel, and his record is similar to Berman's on many issues, though not all.
Sherman probably is more familiar to voters in the new district because it contains a substantially larger part of his former district than it does of Berman's.
The Sherman campaign has criticized Berman's record almost from the start. For example, it has sent out political mailers criticizing Berman for taking more than 100 overseas trips paid for by taxpayers or special interests.
The Berman campaign countered after the primary, calling Sherman ineffective and accusing him of exaggerating his role in influencing the 2008 financial system bailout and in efforts to bring funding for such projects as the 405 Freeway widening in the Los Angeles area and the Santa Monica Mountains parkland acquisitions.