Republican senators back Democrat in House race

Associated Press + More

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A longtime House Democrat locked in a close race with another Democrat in California picked up a surprising endorsement Monday: the backing of two Senate Republicans.

Rep. Howard Berman announced that he had the support of Sens. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also secured the backing of Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

"Howard Berman is a man of determination and honor," McCain said in a statement. "He works to keep America safe, and our country is stronger with him in Congress."

Graham praised the 15-term Democrat for his bipartisanship, his work to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and his efforts to stop arms sales to nations that back terrorism. Lieberman said that when Israel's leadership "needs a friend in Congress, that ally is Howard Berman."

The three lawmakers are close friends and some of the most prominent voices in the Senate on national security. All three are members of the Armed Services Committee; McCain is the panel's top Republican.

The endorsements are unusual in a House race, especially one that pits a Democrat against another. The redrawing of congressional boundaries created a Los Angeles area contest between Berman and eight-term Rep. Brad Sherman, both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Under the California primary system, the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. In this case, it was Berman and Sherman.

Berman also has the endorsement of California's top Democrats — Gov. Jerry Brown and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.