TARZANA (CBS) — A bitter congressional campaign headlined by two valley politicians, Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, heated up again Tuesday night in a debate with a third leading candidate.

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In front of a packed house with an overflow crowd watching on TV monitors, hundreds of San Fernando Valley voters filled the Temple Judea in Tarzana to watch the Berman-Sherman showdown debate.

Republican Mark Reed is in the running as well.

“This election is not about Congressman Sherman or Berman,” Reed said.

But Reed notwithstanding, the specter of two powerful incumbent Democrats going head-to-head, in what may be the hottest primary in the country, created many sparks between them.

Like one exchange on drafting sanctions to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

“Howard believes that we should only have those sanctions that the Europeans agreed to,” Congressman Sherman said.

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“For him to invert the truth is… Brad,” Congressman Berman responded.

Berman accused Sherman of showboating by making up issued that did not exist.

“Brad is looking for things to do. He sends a letter about an issue that is not an issue,” Berman said.

Sherman accused Berman of blowing him off when he proposed that they both sign an agreement to forbid millions of dollars in super PAC special interest money from distorting the campaign.

“In January I proposed to Howard that we both sign an anti-super PAC pledge. He declined on the basis that I was a stuntman and a rodeo clown. Then on MSNBC he declined to sign the pledge on the theory that I was a nervous guy then sent out a brochure saying I was gum under your show,” Sherman said.
The debate took place on a day when there were several other key developments in the campaign.

A controversial flyer sent out by the Sherman campaign, criticizing Berman for taking support from super PACs, to which Pacific Gas and Electric contributed. PG&E was the company involved with the 2009 San Bruno gas line explosion.

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As a result of the flyer, Senator Barbara Boxer announced that she was so concerned and upset by what she said are the distortions and the over-the-top associations may in the flyer, that she gave her endorsement to Howard Berman.