The contest between incumbent Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman might have officially earned that distinction last night after a police officer had to get between the two candidates in the middle of a debate.

The California Democrats, pushed together by redistricting, almost came to blows after Sherman wrapped his arm around Berman during a particularly heated exchange.

 

The race between the two has been characterized by heavy spending from the campaigns, well-funded Super PACs and other outside groups. The nature of the race is at least partly a result of California’s new top-two primary system in which the top vote getters in congressional races, and contests for statewide and legislative offices, advance to the November election.

The new system has been a boon to political consultants given the additional spending that's required, but it also means that the intensity of close contests can ratchet up earlier than usual. Berman and Sherman have essentially been fighting for their political lives for months now.