The California attorney general, a Democrat, is running for the seat being vacated by long-serving Sen. Barbara Boxer in California. If she wins, she would be the first black and the first South Asian Senator from the Golden State.
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The new Speaker of the House never wanted this job, but he's already proven to be quite canny in how he got it. One of the few figures who can bring together conservatives and the Establishment, but it remains to be seen how long his honeymoon will last.
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When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid steps down next year, the New York Democrat is his likely successor. His first order of business will be helping change that job title to Senate Majority Leader, but it's a tall order.
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The former mayor of San Antonio is now serving as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but many political watchers think he's got a shot at being Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera—Polaris
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Attention for the Vice President dropped dramatically once he said he's not running for president. But Biden made clear he's going out with a bang. He'll be pushing for things like cancer research and hitting blue-collar areas to drum up votes for Democratic candidates.
Dough Mills—The New York Times/Redux
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The South Carolina Governor, a Republican, drew praise for her handling of the Charleston church shooting and the lowering of the Confederate flag. She'll be in the spotlight again next year as the first Southern presidential primary takes place in her backyard.
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The Massachusetts Senator is a one-woman think tank for Democratic policymaking. Still in her first term, she has a national following that catapults her proposals into the limelight, even though few of them will become law in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
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The Colorado Senator showed how Republicans can win in a purple state in 2014 by countering attempts to paint him as unsupportive of women's concerns. When the dust from the GOP primary settles, the eventual presidential candidate may follow his lead.
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
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As head of the biggest, reddest state, the Texas Governor has a bully pulpit and he's using it. He led the way among GOP governors rejecting Syrian refugees in their states and fought President Obama's immigration actions in court.
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The Iowa Senator, a Republican, has long fought for tough mandatory minimum sentences. As a bipartisan coalition tries to get criminal justice reform through Congress, he chairs a crucial committee that could make or break the effort.
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