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Scandals hurt California lawmakers' approval rating as election looms

By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Californians' approval of their state legislature fell significantly in the days following the arrest of a prominent state senator on corruption and gun-trafficking conspiracy charges, a new poll shows, a toll that may cast a shadow on upcoming elections. Leland Yee of San Francisco was the third senate Democrat since January to face criminal charges in an ongoing spate of embarrassments for the party, which dominates politics in the most populous U.S. state.

Republicans thwart Senate bill curbing gender pay gap, as Dems see an issue for fall campaign

WASHINGTON - Republicans blocked a Senate bill Wednesday aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women, an election-year ritual that Democrats hope will help spur women to back them in this fall's congressional elections.

Americans cool to NJ's Christie as Massachusetts' Warren rises: poll

By Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fell to ninth place from his top spot among favored U.S. politicians after a scandal over traffic lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, according to a Quinnipiac University ranking released on Thursday.

House Democrats push for vote on immigration overhaul over Republican objections

WASHINGTON - House Democrats deployed a little-used legislative move Wednesday to force a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill, an effort doomed to fail but designed to increase the election-year pressure on Republicans to act. "It is time for us to have a vote," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., who joined with dozens of Democrats, advocates and actress America Ferrera to mark 273 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan bill. They insisted that House Republican leaders act.

House Democrats push for vote on immigration overhaul over Republican objections

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are pushing for a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and tighten border security. The procedural effort stands little chance of success as Republicans, even those who support changes to the immigration system, are unwilling to rebuff their leaders and join Democrats. The GOP is reluctant to vote on the divisive issue in an election year, especially with all signs pointing to major gains for Republicans in the November midterms.

Republican Party wins Florida congressional seat in special election

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Republican David Jolly won an expensive battle to fill a vacant U.S. Congressional seat in a special election watched by both major parties for what it portends for November when all 435 congressional seats will be up for grabs. Jolly, 41, will fill the Tampa area seat on Florida's Gulf Coast that was held for more than 40 years by his former boss, U.S. Representative C.W. Bill Young, a Republican who died in October aged 82.

Florida election a bellwether for fall U.S. mid-term race

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Voters on Florida's Gulf Coast head to the polls Tuesday to fill a vacant U.S. Congressional seat in a special election watched by both major parties for what it portends for November when all 435 congressional seats will be up for grabs. "It's still anybody's guess who's going to win. Turnout is key," Susan MacManus, a longtime political analyst and professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told Reuters less than 24 hours before polls opened.

Rand Paul says to decide on 2016 White House run after midterm elections

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Rand Paul said on Sunday he was preparing for a possible run for the presidency in 2016 but would not make a final decision until after the November midterm elections. One day after winning a preference poll of conservative activists, the Kentucky senator his libertarian message of protection for civil liberties could help the Republican Party grow by attracting young people and minorities.

Head of Latino group calls Obama 'deporter in chief,' criticizes GOP inaction on immigration

WASHINGTON - The president of a prominent Latino advocacy group called President Barack Obama the "deporter in chief," denouncing the administration's deportation of nearly 2 million immigrants. Janet Murguia, who heads the National Council of La Raza, also directed her anger and frustration at House Republicans for stalling on immigration legislation, which is languishing some eight months after the Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive bill. Murguia made the comments at an awards dinner Tuesday night.

Republican Abbott widens lead in Texas governor's race over Davis

By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Republican front-runner in the race for Texas governor, Greg Abbott, has increased his lead over likely Democratic rival Wendy Davis, according to a poll released on Monday. State Attorney General Abbott has an 11-percentage-point lead over State Senator Davis, the poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found. That was a wider lead than the six-point edge Abbott held in a November poll.
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