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Boehner visits NY to bolster flagging house candidate

DEPEW, N.Y. — This village of strip malls, car dealerships and working-class neighborhoods is an unlikely stage for a battle between the two major parties in Washington.

But the national political stakes became clear when the House speaker, John A. Boehner, arrived Monday for a visit. Boehner came to provide a spark to the struggling campaign of Jane L. Corwin, the Republican running for a vacant House seat representing New York’s 26th Congressional District, in the western part of the state.

A special election scheduled for May 24 is to determine who will fill the seat left by Rep. Christopher Lee. Lee resigned in February after he emailed a shirtless photo of himself to a woman that appeared on the Web.

While the district is dominated by Republican voters, Corwin, a state lawmaker, has seen her lead diminish in recent weeks, as the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul, has repeatedly warned that older residents, a key voting group, would be hurt by a deficit-cutting plan adopted by House Republicans that calls for overhauling Medicare.

The unexpected traction that Hochul is gaining on the issue has prompted national Democrats, who were initially going to skip the race, to jump in and try to frame it as a political test of the Republican agenda in Washington.

—Raymond Hernandez, The New York Times

NATO airstrikes help Libyan rebels gain ground in Misrata

QARYAT AZ ZURAYQ, Libya — Rebel fighters made significant gains Monday against forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in both the western and eastern areas of the country, in the first faint signs that NATO airstrikes may be starting to strain the government forces.

In the besieged western city of Misrata, hundreds of rebels broke through one of the front lines late on Sunday, and by Monday afternoon were consolidating their position on ground miles to the city’s west.

The breakout of what had been nearly static lines came after NATO aircraft spent days striking positions and military equipment held by the Gadhafi forces, weakening them to the point that a ground attack was possible, rebels said.

While not in itself a decisive shift, the swift advance, made with few rebel casualties, carried both signs of rebel optimism and hints of the weakness of at least one front-line loyalist unit.

—C.J. Chivers, The New York Times

Police consider second serial killer in Long Island case

Long Island residents, already grappling with the notion that a serial killer has been killing and dumping bodies in their midst, got more disturbing news Monday: There may be a second serial killer at work.

Since April, law enforcement authorities have been trying to determine if four bodies discovered in the thick, beachfront brush on Jones Beach Island were also the work of the killer believed responsible for the deaths of four prostitutes whose remains were found nearby in December.

But officials in Suffolk County said Monday that the killings involving two of the more recently discovered victims — while unconnected to the first four bodies — “appear to be related to each other.” The officials said one of the recently found bodies had been identified as belonging to Jessica Taylor, 20, who had worked as a prostitute in Washington, D.C., and briefly in New York before disappearing in July 2003.

Soon after she was missing, most of her body, absent her head and hands, was discovered by a woman walking her dog in Manorville.

—Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times