Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), facing a primary battle against fellow incumbent Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) in a west San Fernando Valley congressional district, said he raised about $1.6 million on Thursday at a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton.

“Thank you for being with me when I really need you,” Berman told the crowd in the hotel’s main ballroom, adding a quip, “This dinner has raised 1.6 million dollars — I can’t even get earmarks that big anymore.”

Governor Jerry Brown, who endorsed Berman, spoke at the event, telling donors that the lower-key congressman, first elected in 1982, was the type of lower key politician needed in Washington to forge ties across the aisle at a time of grandstanding and showmanship. He is “not fluff,” Brown said. “What you see is what you get.”

The race is among the most hotly contested of all Democratic House primaries in 2012, a situation that came about as maps were redrawn during the redistricting process.

Among those at the event were Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, ASCAP president Paul Williams, former Gov. Gray Davis, Mel Levine, U Music’s Zach Horowitz, the RIAA’s Cary Sherman and Matthew Loeb, the international president of the IATSE. The union’s west coast branch, which a substantial number of members in the district, endorsed Berman. Others who contributed included Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

Standing in front of a giant American flag, Berman said that he was seeking reelection after a long career because “I love my job. I think I’m good at my job. I think I can make a difference.”

Although Berman has been a champion of copyright issues of concern to studios, and has garnered a substantial share of industry support, he faces what may be a tough fight against Sherman, who has a reputation for retail politics, spending a lot of time in the district. He recently received the endorsement of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley.

Sherman has a substantial war chest — $3.7 million cash on hand, according to the latest campaign finance reports through the end of September. But Berman has been able to close the gap, with $2.26 million.

Berman is facing his first major campaign, perhaps since he was first elected. He has traditionally held a major pre-election fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton every two years, but the event usually takes in about $1 million, a spokeswoman for Berman said.

More to come…