Less than two years after Rep. Brad Sherman defeated a fellow Democrat in a bitter, $10 million House race, the lingering rancor is promising to give a major lift to the candidacy of Los Angeles-area entrepreneur and Republican immigrant Pablo Kleinman.
Given California's unique electoral system, the state's 30th Congressional District, which covers northwest Los Angeles County and most of the San Fernando Valley, could reject arch-liberal Sherman in favor of the moderate conservative Kleinman, 42.
Kleinman told Newsmax he offers a stark choice over Sherman on the issues.
"He is opposed to school choice. I support school choice," Kleinman said. "School choice is about giving children the opportunity to succeed, and this should be the No. 1 priority for us to continue being the land of opportunity.
"School choice should involve all possible aspects of choice, not just charter schools."
Kleinman lists education as the top issue on his campaign website.
"If everyone got a good education, we would resolve the income inequality problem the Democrats like to talk about, which stems from the low income of poorly educated inner-city residents," Kleinman said.
Redistricting after the 2010 census left Sherman and fellow Democrat Howard Berman in the same district. Their 2012 contest was so acrimonious and expensive that the deep scars it left among area Democrats never truly healed.
Sherman prevailed over Berman 60 percent to 40 percent in the general election.
In what is tantamount to an extension of the Berman-Sherman bout — famously recalled by a photograph of the two lawmakers shouting at each other during one of their debates — former Berman staffer Marc Litchman said last week that he would run for Congress in the 30th District.
Under the state's French-style electoral system, all primary candidates regardless of party appear on the same ballot and the two top vote-getters square off in November.
California's system could easily lead to a fall contest between Sherman and Kleinman after the incumbent is bruised in the primary battle, given Litchman's entry into the race.
The only other Republican running aside from Kleinman is Mark Reed, a perennial candidate who got 12.5 percent of the vote in 2012.
Kleinman was born in Argentina, raised in California, and is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He also holds a degree from HEC Paris, the top-ranked business school in France whose alumni include French President Francois Hollande and former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
During his last quarter at HEC Paris, Kleinman attended the London Business School. Working in New York and on the West Coast, he has had a thriving career as a consultant and entrepreneur in technology.
"I was using email and chatting on a home computer back in 1985, when I was 13," Kleinman told Newsmax. "My parents were worried because I was talking to a computer."
Kleinman initially thought of himself as part of the "Third Way," the center-left brand that included former President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
But living in New York, when Republican Rudy Giuliani was mayor, moved him toward the Republican Party. "I liked the way Rudy got things done," Kleinman said.
"What sealed the deal was living in Europe. I could see how much market economics was needed there and how economies worked so differently in other countries, such as the U.S.," Kleinman said.
He also said there are differences between himself and Sherman on healthcare, labor, and trade issues.
"He voted against the Upton Act, which would have permitted Americans who are happy with their present health insurance plans to keep them," Kleinman said. "[Sherman] supports anti-right-to-work measures as a favor to labor unions, and I believe right-to-work is good for the economy. He's against free trade, and I strongly support it."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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