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- "The Obama administration faced a fresh challenge to its health-care law just as many of its key provisions took effect Wednesday, after an eleventh-hour Supreme Court ruling temporarily allowed some Catholic groups not to cover birth control in their employee health plans." (Washington Post)
- "The Senate will vote next Monday on temporarily extending federal benefits for the long-term unemployed," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday. (AP)
- Americans for Prosperity (R) on Thursday announced a "multimillion dollar ad effort" attacking Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) on health care. (release)
- Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) will launch a new radio ad on Thursday "touting his work to expand drilling and mining in the Arctic." (Politico)
- In LA SEN, state Rep. Paul Hollis (R) said earlier this week "he will formally announce his candidacy in mid-January." Hollis "plans to dip into his own pocket to finance his campaign and has already deposited $250,000 into his war chest." (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
- Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) said last Saturday "that he will seek appointment" to the Senate seat that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) "will resign after he is confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to China." (Billings Gazette)
- In SD SEN, former Sen. Larry Pressler (R) announced last week that he will run as an independent. Pressler: "I think there's an increased level of people wanting an alternative to the Republican-Democrat thing." (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
- Americans for Prosperity (R) also launched new TV ads last week against Reps. Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH). (release)
- In IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) launched a new TV ad on Monday on education. (release)
- In OH GOV, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune (D) "announced intentions to run" on Monday, "spurring a possible primary and annoying some Democrats." (Cincinnati Enquirer)
- Also in OH GOV, tea party leader Ted Stevenot (R) will announce next week that he is challenging Gov. John Kasich (R) in the GOP primary, "making good on the threat from some conservatives in the state to oppose Kasich because of his push for Medicaid expansion and some other policies they reject." (Columbus Dispatch)
- According to a new CNN/ORC International poll of national RVs, conducted Dec. 16-19, Republicans lead the generic ballot, 49-44%. In the previous poll, conducted Nov. 18-20, Republicans led, 49-47%. (release)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• The new AFP ads -- hitting three Democratic senators seeking reelection this year and two House Dems -- kick off the new year the way 2013 ended for Republicans and GOP-aligned outside groups: on offense on health care.
HAIR OF THE DOG
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- In his inaugural address on Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) "described social inequality as a 'quiet crisis' on a par with the other urban cataclysms of the city's last half-century, from fiscal collapse to crime waves to terrorist attacks, and said income disparity was a struggle no less urgent to confront." (New York Times)
- "Lis Smith, a key de Blasio spokesperson during the campaign and transition until her relationship with her former client Eliot Spitzer broke and became a tabloid fixture, had her last official day on his team" on Wednesday "and won't follow him into city government." Smith "is returning to her work as a consultant" for the DGA and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), "who remained clients while she was with de Blasio." (Capital New York)
- "Historic Bible goes missing after de Blasio swearing in" (New York Post)
- In Detroit, Mike Duggan (D) was sworn in as mayor on Wednesday, becoming the city's "first white mayor in 40 years." (Detroit Free Press)
- "In a historic swirl of commerce and cannabis, the world's first stores licensed to sell marijuana legally to anyone 21 or older opened in Colorado on Wednesday." (Denver Post)
- "Florida's population grows, but not enough to overcome New York" (Miami Herald)
- "Former first lady Barbara Bush remained in Houston Methodist Hospital on Wednesday, a family spokesman confirmed." (Houston Chronicle)
- "Can Davis and Abbott agree? Yes -- on chili" (San Antonio Express-News)
- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "who has been in a coma for eight years, was in critical condition on Thursday, clinging to life after a decline in the functioning of various bodily organs, his doctors said." (AP)
- "72 Minutes With Mark Penn" (New York Magazine)
- "Six hours is an especially long round of golf, and five is on the long side, too." -- ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr., on President Obama's "slow, deliberative" pace of play (New York Times)
- "Rep. Mike Coffman says he'll do push ups for cash money" (Denver Post)
- Dallas billionaire and philanthropist Harold Simmons, who "gave hundreds of millions of dollars to diverse causes -- from conservative political campaigns to Planned Parenthood" -- died last Saturday night at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. "He was 82." (Dallas Morning News)
- "Ayla Brown 'available' no more" (Boston Herald)
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Partly sunny this morning, then cloudy with a 50% chance of rain this afternoon. Highs in the lower 40s. Northeast winds around 5 mph.
- "2014's first big storm bears down on northeast US" (AP)
- The Caps take on the Hurricanes. (Verizon Center, 7 p.m.)
- George Mason hosts Penn. (Patriot Center, 7:30 p.m.)
- Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 11 Oklahoma. (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- The 27th Amendment took 203 years to be ratified.
- The winner is Dawson Hobbs, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "In 1881 the Texas legislature met in a special session and voted to exchange 3,000,000 acres of land in exchange for the construction of a new $3,000,000 Capitol building. What did the new owners name their 3,000,000 acre ranch?" The 1st correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- 2014's Under-the-Radar Political Candidates
- Ranking the Top 5 Senators Vulnerable in 2014 Primaries
- The Biggest Political Winners and Losers of 2013
- Rubber Meets the Road for Obamacare
- 5 House Republicans to Watch in 2014
"Four times during his first big speech as New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio declared: 'We will not wait. We'll do it now.'" (Newsday)
"Within a day of taking office, Mayor de Blasio could face the first test of his administration -- a fast-moving storm that might dump 10 inches of snow on the city starting Thursday night." (New York Daily News)
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief
CORRECTION: The answer for Dec. 20, 2013's Swizzle Challenge -- as it appeared in Dec. 23's Wake-Up Call! -- was incorrect. The six states never to elect a woman to the House are Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota and Vermont. Nebraska has elected a woman to the House.