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- "A cache of private messages linking" New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) office to "vindictive lane closures" at a bridge connecting New Jersey and New York last September "plunged the administration into a deep crisis on Wednesday, threatening Christie's national profile as a straight-talker and feeding criticism that his administration has used its power to bully political enemies." (Bergen Record)
- Following the report on Wednesday, Christie "stayed behind closed doors and canceled several scheduled appearances, before issuing a statement saying he was misled by a member of his staff, and that 'inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.'" (Newark Star-Ledger)
- Christie is expected to address the allegations at an 11 a.m. press conference Thursday in Trenton. (Hotline reporting)
- In GA SEN, Rep. Jack Kingston (R) raised $880,000 in the fourth quarter of last year and has $3.4 million cash on hand. (Roll Call)
- In NM SEN, former state GOP chairman Allen Weh (R) "will make his official announcement of his candidacy Thursday via live video stream." (Santa Fe New Mexican)
- In SD SEN, former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) raised $516,000 in the fourth quarter. (Pierre Capital Journal)
- Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) announced Wedneday that he won't seek reelection to his GOP-leaning NC-07 seat, "and the jockeying on both sides of the aisle to replace him has begun." New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White (R) "confirmed Wednesday he is running," meaning 2012 nominee David Rouzer (R) "won't have an easy road to the Republican nomination, despite almost defeating McIntyre in 2012." (Raleigh News & Observer)
- Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), "whose family tragedy in the Long Island Rail Road massacre 20 years ago led her to become the face of gun control in Congress, said Wednesday she will not run" for reelection. McCarthy "has been on leave to undergo treatment for lung cancer" since last June but "expects to return in a 'couple of weeks.'" (Newsday)
- Americans for Prosperity (R) on Wednesday launched two new TV ads against Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Ron Barber (D-AZ). (release)
- In CA-31, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes (D) raised "more than" $302,000 in the fourth quarter, her campaign said Thursday. (Hotline reporting)
- In CA-52, former San Diego city Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) raised "more than" $370,000 in the fourth quarter and has $1 million cash on hand. (Washington Post)
- In ID-02, Rep. Mike Simpson (R) raised more than $430,000 in the fourth quarter and has more than $760,000 cash on hand, his campaign announced on Wednesday. (Hotline reporting)
- In IL-11, Rep. Bill Foster (D) raised "over" $292,000 in the fourth quarter and has "over" $800,000 cash on hand, his campaign said Thursday. (Hotline reporting)
- In MT-AL, state Sen. Ryan Zinke (R) raised $447,610 in the fourth quarter and has "about $349,000" cash on hand. (KXLH-TV)
- In VA-10, state Sen. Dick Black (R) said Wednesday "he will definitely seek the GOP nomination." (WRC-TV)
- In AZ GOV, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (R) said he will run, "a decision that ends months of speculation and shakes up a crowded and already-competitive GOP field." (Arizona Republic)
- In IL GOV, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) raised $1.85 million in the fourth quarter and has $4.75 million cash on hand. (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Also in IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) released a new TV ad Wednesday "explaining why government union bosses are preparing to attack Bruce in an effort to try to hijack the Republican primary." (release)
- In KS GOV, state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) raised $1 million in 2013 and has $771,000 cash on hand. (Topeka Capital-Journal)
- In WI GOV, former Trek executive Mary Burke (D) raised "about" $1.8 million "between early October and the end of last year, including $400,000 from her own pockets." Burke has $1.3 million cash on hand. (Washington Post)
- According to a new Quinnipiac University poll of national RVs, conducted Jan. 4-7, 41% approve of the way President Obama is handling his job, while 53% disapprove. In the previous poll, conducted Dec. 3-9, 38% approved of Obama, and 57% disapproved. (release)
- The poll also shows Republicans leading the generic ballot, 38-37%. In the previous poll, Republicans led, 41-38%. (release)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• Voters approved when Christie took on Democrats and their allies on the state budget, and they applauded when he berated members of his own party who opposed federal aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. But Christie's outspoken style poses risks for him in a presidential campaign. And a tale about intentionally diverted traffic, stranded commuters, and secret political payback might sound more "Jersey wiseguy" than "commander-in-chief" to a national audience.
• Four House GOP retirements, plus Bill Young's death, have opened up GOP-held swing districts in 2014. But the two Democrats to retire outright -- Jim Matheson and McIntyre -- are vacating seats that are now almost sure to go Republican. Both sides point to the same trend: Fewer members than ever are representing "crossover" territory that voted against their party for president, and that number looks like it could decline again this year.
• Davis's haul doesn't put him toe-to-toe with Brownback, who raised $1.6 million for the year, but keeps it close and reaffirms his status as a dark-horse candidate to watch. A handful of prominent state Republicans have launched an effort against Brownback's reelection, and Davis's true test will be how much of that GOP support he can move over to his side. Strong fundraising numbers certainly won't hurt.
• Bob Gates's revelation that Hillary Clinton told the president she opposed the troop surge in Iraq for political reasons isn't likely to be as damaging as some expect. After all, Americans are war-weary and the Iraq war will be overshadowed by other foreign policy hot-spots by 2016 -- including Iran and the continued turmoil in Syria. Indeed, it's more likely Republicans will want to litigate Clinton's handling of the Benghazi attack more than her Iraq war positioning.
HAIR OF THE DOG
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- "Eric Cantor and Bill de Blasio exchange fire over schools" (Washington Post)
- For "the past several months," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) "has privately been undergoing intensive treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer, a battle that could end up cutting short his second Senate term, which is scheduled to expire in January 2017." (Politico)
- "Charlie Crist memoir: Rick Scott is a 'terrible governor,' Sarah Palin 'different,' Karl Rove a 'jerk'" (Tampa Bay Times)
- Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) is "among the top contenders" to run for San Bernadino County supervisor; "sources say she isn't interested in another term in Congress." (San Bernadino Sun)
- Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs (D) "accidentally fired her handgun Tuesday afternoon while unloading it in her office in the Capitol Annex -- the building adjacent to the Capitol that houses legislative offices and committee meeting rooms." Combs: "I'm a gun owner. It happens." (Louisville Courier-Journal)
- Former Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) "will come out of retirement at the age of 82 to manage" the reelection campaign of Campbell County (Ky.) Sheriff Jeff Kidwell (R). (Cincinnati Enquirer)
- Melissa Mark-Viverito (D) "was elected speaker" of the New York City Council "in a unanimous vote Wednesday that capped a fierce fight and made her the first Hispanic to hold a citywide office." (New York Daily News)
- "Colorado GOP wants to skirt campaign contribution limits" (Washington Post)
- "I didn't do anything. At the same time, I want to apologize to people about the campaign." -- D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), asked about illegal activities surrounding his 2010 campaign (WUSA-TV)
- MPD "says that a set of elephant tusks given to the District in 1954 by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie went missing from the John A. Wilson Building last August." (Washingtonian)
PLAY OF THE DAY!
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Partly sunny. Highs in the upper 30s. Northeast winds around 5 mph.
- The House and Senate both return at 10 a.m.
- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on "The Situation in South Sudan." (DSOB 419, 10:15 a.m.)
- Christie holds a press conference Thursday morning in Trenton. (11 a.m.)
- George Mason faces "Havoc" in Richmond when they square off with Va. Commonwealth. (CBS Sports Network, 7 p.m.)
- George Washington is in Philly to face La Salle. (NBC Sports Network, 8 p.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- Wilmer Mizell (R-NC) pitched for Casey Stengel with the 1962 Mets and later served in the House and the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations.
- The winner is Orson Swindle who declined to submit a new question. So here's a bonus Swizzle Challenge: "The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931, with which two men cutting a ceremonial ribbon?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- Republican Leaders Assess Scandal Damage to Christie
- The Danger of 2014 GOP Strength Is 2016 Delusion
- Republicans Want to Talk Education, but Will They Fund It?
- Republicans Try to Beat Democrats at Their Own Game on Economic Inequality
- Three Months After Capitol Shooting, Investigators Remain Quiet
"It will be a tough November for this little Serbian." -- Former Port Authority director David Wildstein, a longtime Christie friend, on Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) (Bergen Record)
"SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors urged an appeals court to reject former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appeal of his conviction on bribery and fraud charges." (UPI)
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief
Adam Wollner, Editor
CORRECTION: Wednesday's Wake-Up Call! mischaracterized MT-AL candidate John Lewis's (D) fundraising totals. Lewis raised about $396,000 in all of 2013. His fourth-quarter fundraising haul was "more than" $200,000.
Adam Wollner contributed to this article.