Down 13 points in the latest poll, Howard Berman is fighting for his political life against fellow Los Angeles-area Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

So on Thursday, Berman jetted off to Chicago for a fundraiser with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod. The price for the reception at a swanky Italian joint in the Loop: $500 to $2,500.

The event raised $50,000, according to Berman campaign spokesman Jason Levin.

The race between Berman and Sherman, two long-serving Democrats forced to go head-to-head by redistricting and California's "top two" primary system, has been one of the most fiercely fought in California. Sherman's brand of shoe leather retail politics has helped him win voters, while Berman's insider acumen has garnered him money and endorsements.

The Emanuel-Axelrod fundraiser might be a sign that President Barack Obama has a favorite in the race, although the president hasn't officially endorsed a candidate. (Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain has (R-Ariz.) endorsed Berman.)

Berman had raised $3.5 million versus his opponent's $2.7 million by June 30. He burned through more cash than Sherman for the primary, but still placed second. His runner-up status could explain his decision to refill his coffers with an out-of-state fundraiser just weeks before the November 6 election.

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