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When the passing of the Senate Republican leader's baton from one Bob (Dutton) to another Bob (Huff) gets upstaged by a gun at an airport, California lawmakers might be hoping for a day without drama.

Both the Senate and the Assembly have floor sessions set for 9 a.m. Committees in both in the upper house and the lower house are meeting as well. Maybe it will keep their minds off the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown is planning to release his budget next Tuesday promptly at 9 a.m.

Which means there's no better time to focus on Southern California and what promises to be a coffer-depleting campaign for the new 30th Congressional District. Democratic incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman will be slugging it out tonight in a town hall debate from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Westfield Shopping Towne Promenade in Woodland Hills.

Both congressmen, who got drawn into the same district, have been racking up the big-name endorsements in advance of the June primary.

In Berman's camp is the Democratic governor, who's quoted thusly on Berman's campaign website: "I'm with Howard because ... he is real, he knows what the hell he is going, and he can work with the other side." (The ellipsis is theirs.)

Those in Sherman's camp include former President Bill Clinton, who praises him for having "a keen understanding of both the challenges facing our country today and innovative ideas on what to do about them."

Berman's got the nod from State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. State Controller John Chiang has Sherman's back. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, interestingly enough, is listed on both websites, here and here (just keep scrolling down).

It's not just a two-man show, however. Two Republican candidates will also participate: Woodland Hills author Susan Shelley, who's written a novel called "The 37th Amendment," and
Mark Reed, an actor, rancher and small business man who challenged Sherman back in 2010.

Reed's website lists endorsers including former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as well as names familiar around the Capitol: Sens. Sharon Runner and Tony Strickland, Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, Assemblymen Mike Morrell and Cameron Smyth, and former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.


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