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- Pres. Obama heads to Israel and the West Bank today "for the first time" in his presidency, where "there is no expectation of any significant policy breakthroughs" (CNN).
- SC-01 Special: Voters will visit the polls between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. today in the special election primaries featuring 16 GOP candidates and 2 Dems. The GOP contest will almost certainly head to an April 2 runoff. For more, see our preview of the race on Hotline On Call.
- MA SEN Special: Billionaire Dem donor Tom Steyer "vowed to target" Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) unless he "promises to oppose" the Keystone XL Pipeline (Boston Globe).
- NJ GOV '13: State Sen. Barbara Buono (D) "has surpassed" the $1M "fundraising mark, though she remains far behind Gov. Chris Christie (R)" (Newark Star-Ledger). Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) will headline an event for Buono today (BuzzFeed).
- AK SEN: '10 nominee Joe Miller (R) gave "his first major political speech in 12 months" at the state's Libertarian Party convention, noting that he is "'obviously contemplating a run'" (KTUU-TV).
- GA SEN: Rep. Paul Broun (R) wrote an op-ed for the New York Times this a.m., criticizing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget for not going far enough to cut spending. Broun: "My party's de facto position has become 'we're increasing spending, but not as much as the other guy.' That's not good enough."
- LA SEN: Rep. John Fleming (R) is "taking 'an even more serious look'" at a bid, after internal polling showed him "competitive" against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) (The Hill).
- PA GOV: Ex-Dept. of Environmental Protection Sec. Kathleen McGinty (D) will form an exploratory cmte this week (PoliticsPA). Meanwhile, minister Max Myers (D) officially launched a bid and was quickly greeted by a debate challenge from ex-state Environmental Protection Sec. Tom Hanger (D), the only other declared Dem (Harrisburg Patriot-News).
- DC Mayor '14: Councilor Muriel Bowser (D) will announce her campaign on Saturday and will be the first candidate to "officially enter" the race (Washington Post).
- According to a new CNN/ORC Int'l poll of nat'l adults, conducted 3/15-17, 47% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his job as POTUS, while 50% disapprove. In the previous poll, conducted 1/14-15, 55% approved of Obama, and 43% disapproved (release).
- NY GOV: According to a new Quinnipiac Univ. poll of RVs, conducted 3/11-17, 55% approve of the way Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is handling his job, while 27% disapprove. In the previous poll, conducted 1/23-28, 59% approved of Cuomo, and 28% disapproved (release).
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• Polling has demonstrated repeatedly that the GOP has a policy problem, not just a message problem, with Hispanic voters. Another big issue is that some Republicans haven't bothered to deliver a message at all. Conservative Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) is an imperfect example of what the GOP needs to do to appeal to Hispanics, but he's in the news now because he always makes an effort to hear from that community and speak directly to it, something he and other GOPers from diverse districts would like to see the rest of their party try.
• Though Mark Sanford is virtually guaranteed a win tonight, he'll almost certainly face a runoff -- likely against one of five top-tier contenders. Though Sanford's total tonight could be instructive -- anything over 40 percent would be a strong showing -- we won't know until the April 2 runoff how many voters simply oppose the former governor and will coalesce around any candidate who takes him on and how many will just stay home.
• Could a contested Louisiana Senate primary actually be good for Republicans? True, it would be very distracting for the GOP leading up to the November elections, and Mary Landrieu survived just this type of runoff in 2002. But if the Senate runoff was held concurrently with two congressional runoffs in strongly conservative House seats, that could skew the December electorate in an even more Republican direction.
• Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz isn't exactly clearing the field in the race to take on Tom Corbett. Kathleen McGinty is the latest name to add to an already long list of Democrats considering a bid. Another woman from Southeast PA, McGinty could prove to be a nuisance for Schwartz, especially if she is able to tap the Clinton and Rendell networks for fundraising.
HAIR OF THE DOG
"Spa owner loses suit over pedicures with live fish" (AP).
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- "Police in the Dominican Republic say they have determined that three women" who said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) paid them for sex "were in fact paid to make false claims by an attorney in the Caribbean country" (AP).
- "This summer The Washington Post will start charging frequent users of its Web site, asking those who look at more than 20 articles or multi-media features a month to pay a monthly fee, though the company has not yet decided how much it will charge." Home delivery subscribers, students, teachers, school administrators, gov't employees and military personnel will all be exempt (Washington Post).
- "I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally, and as a matter of policy and law" -- ex-Sec/State Hillary Clinton, in a video statement for the Human Rights Campaign (Youtube).
- "Michele Bachmann Is Surprisingly Quiet These Days" (National Journal Daily).
- "If people think that's not the right thing for me to do, I don't care. It's my sister and I'm willing to help her" -- comedian Stephen Colbert, on dropping his character to support sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch's (D) SC-01 bid (CNN).
- "Kwame Kilpatrick's mother offers house as collateral for son's release pending sentencing" (MLive).
- "One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do. I've reached that point, Mr. Speaker, that I'm tired of giving in to the federal government" -- ID House Asst. Maj. Leader Brent Crane (R), invoking Rosa Parks as a champion of states rights (Idaho Statesman).
- Members of Congress will team up with U.S. Olympians and Paralympians at a Free Throw Challenge at Rayburn at 3 p.m. The event is hosted by the U.S. Olympic Cmte (release).
- "ET" was released on video cassette with a green plastic casing to combat piracy.
- The winner is Joel Bailey, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "Which NCAA Div 1 men's basketball team was the last to go undefeated during the regular season and win the national championship?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- The GOP Faces 2 Stark Choices: Change or Go Over the Cliff
- Excited About March Madness? Then You Could Be One of the Most Politically Moderate Sports Fans
- Why the RNC's Reforms Don't Solve the GOP's Problem
- House GOP Committee's New Budget Plan: Faster, Deeper Cuts
- How the Cyprus Tempest Could Pose a Threat to the U.S. Economy
"It's called a women's act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that -- how is that a woman?" -- Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), on LGBT provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (National Review).
"That sarcastic contemptuous tone that means you know everything because you're a man, and I know nothing because I'm a woman" -- Albert.
"You're not a woman" -- Armand.
"Oh, you bastard!" -- Albert ("The Birdcage").
Sarah Mimms, Editor