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Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 17:46 GMT

Candidates face off with Lewinsky

There are problems for California Democrats seen to be too close to the Clintons

By the BBC's Bridget Kendall in Los Angeles

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Star-studded Beverly Hills is no stranger to scandal. After all, it's Monica Lewinsky's hometown.

But even in a town known for its tolerance for gossip, intrigue and sex, no one is writing off the impact that President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky could have on political candidates here and around the country.

In California, the scandal is pivotal. This high-profile state is where some of the closest election races in the country are played out.

Until recently, the scandal has caused problems for California Democrats seen to be too close to the Clintons like Barbara Boxer. Her daughter is married to Hillary Clinton's brother. When she failed to criticise the president, her Senate race against moderate Republican Matt Fong was in trouble.

[ image: Janice Hahn is convinced attitudes are changing]
Janice Hahn is convinced attitudes are changing
Janice Hahn, another Democrat in the tight race, is so short of money that she is willing to gamble. She invited the president to a fundraising lunch last weekend. It wasn't open to the public, but nevertheless she's convinced attitudes are changing:

"I'm meeting Republicans and Democrats and I've had many Republicans tell me they feel the same way," Ms Hahn said. "They are upset at the Republican Congress who continues to want to indict the president. They said they would vote for me."

This may be campaign rhetoric, but even Janice Hahn's Republican opponent, Steve Kuykendall, admits talk of impeachment and scandal may not work in his favour.

"I think in my district it is 50-50," he said. "It doesn't work against me or for me. The voters are tired of it."

[ image: Campaign strategists are worried about turn out in places like Venice Beach]
Campaign strategists are worried about turn out in places like Venice Beach
But that doesn't mean the Democrats are resting easy. At Janice Hahn's headquarters, campaign strategists are worried about turnout. Democrats in America are less diligent about voting than Republicans so it is only by getting out the vote in strongholds like Venice Beach that Janice Hahn can hope to win this district.

While most most people say they're fed up with scandal but the truth is in a seat this tight, just a few votes can make all the difference and could turn this election - especially in scandal-loving Los Angeles.

The problem is, neither Republicans nor Democrats know who will benefit from this scandal most.

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Impeachment process in spotlight

Analysis: Lewinsky leaves voters cold

What the papers say

What they said: Quotes and soundbites

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Black America backs Clinton

From the House to the White House?

Bush brothers celebrate

George W Bush: Front-runner for 2000

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Lewinsky in Loveland

California prize for Democrats

Close second for dead sheriff