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- "U.S. employers added a scant 74,000 jobs" last December, "the fewest in three years," the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate fell from 7% in November to 6.7%, "the lowest level since October 2008," but "the drop occurred partly because more Americans stopped looking for jobs." (AP)
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "held an unprecedented two-hour news conference Thursday in which he humbly took responsibility for allowing the George Washington Bridge scandal to happen under his watch. But at the same time, he took none of the blame, as he worked to tamp down the flames of controversy that threaten to consume his administration and his national political ambitions." (Newark Star-Ledger)
- A New Jersey state Assembly panel "said they expected to release" on Friday "thousands of pages of documents collected thus far in their investigation, possibly shedding more light on the controversy that threatens Christie's presidential ambitions." (Bergen Record)
- In the FL-13 Special, lobbyist David Jolly (R) is "facing questions over his own 2011 lobbying report, which indicates he lobbied for a House bill designed to expand oil drilling" in the Gulf of Mexico, despite assertions otherwise. (Tampa Bay Times)
- In IA SEN, former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs (R) raised "more than" $400,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, but his camp "didn't mention how much he lent or donated to his own campaign." (Des Moines Register)
- In MN SEN, businessman Mike McFadden (R) raised around $780,000 in the fourth quarter and has $1.7 million cash on hand, his campaign said Thursday. (Hotline reporting)
- In OR SEN, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) raised $1.14 million in the fourth quarter. (Portland Oregonian)
- In TN SEN, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) "will begin airing a 60-second campaign spot" next Monday "on broadcast and cable in all Tennessee markets. ... The ad, titled 'Standing Up for Tennessee,' hits themes that should be familiar to those who have been following his bid for a third Senate term," including "his push as governor in the 1980s to attract auto manufacturing, opposition to the Affordable Care Act and his support for fishing." (Nashville Tennessean)
- In TX SEN, Sen. John Cornyn (R) released a new TV ad, highlighting his opposition to President Obama, "scheduled to run in Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin." (Houston Chronicle)
- In VA SEN, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie (R) "has told senior members of his party that he will challenge" Sen. Mark Warner (D) "and announce his candidacy as early as next week, giving Republicans a top-tier candidate in what has become one of the nation's most competitive swing states." (New York Times)
- In ID-02, attorney Bryan Smith (R) raised $111,000 in the fourth quarter and has over $375,000 cash on hand, his campaign said. (Hotline reporting)
- In IA-03, Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) "formally announced his candidacy" on Thursday. (Des Moines Register)
- In NH-02, Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) raised "more than" $338,000 in the fourth quarter and has "more than" $1.6 million cash on hand. (WMUR-TV)
- In PA GOV, businessman Tom Wolf (D) raised $3.27 million in 2013 and contributed another $10 million of his own money, his campaign announced Thursday. (PoliticsPA.com)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• It's no secret that we haven't considered Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to be a serious threat to Cornyn, but the incumbent and his allies aren't taking any chances. Just this week, a pro-Cornyn super PAC went on the air hitting Stockman, and now his campaign is boosting Cornyn's conservative cred in a new spot. Cornyn had nearly $7 million in the bank at the end of the third quarter in 2013, so -- given his large cash advantage, the fact there's seven-and-a-half weeks until the primary and the lack of a credible Democratic opponent waiting in November -- there's no sense messing around.
• California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) pledged Thursday that his state would use a budget surplus to begin paying down its debt, a move that serves as a reminder of how debt and fiscal issues remain a big liability for governors up for reelection in states that have been slower to recover from the recession -- particularly for Illinois' Pat Quinn (D) and Connecticut's Dannel Malloy (D). In Illinois, unfunded pension debts alone are still worth over $100 billion, and the state could face a $4 billion budget shortfall by 2016. In the Nutmeg State, the state's long-term debt is estimated to stand at at least $65 billion, a figure that has been the frequent subject of campaign fodder.
HAIR OF THE DOG
"Where's the beef? 120-pound woman devours massive steak, sets record" (New York Daily News)
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- "For the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires" (Center for Responsive Politics)
- "It seems to me that this whole bridge thing reinforces a narrative that's troublesome about the guy, he's kind of a bully." -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on the Christie scandal (NBC News)
- "Priorities USA set to join 2016 fray with new leadership" (Washington Post)
- "A little bit later. Little bit later. Maybe. Maybe." -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), asked "whether she wants to return to office one day" (NBC News)
- "'Bachmann Abbey' Photo Shows Michele Bachmann's Family Doing Their Best Imitation Of The Crawleys" (Huffington Post)
- Check out National Journal's Shane Goldmacher's story "Influence Air," for the inside story of how, even after the Abramoff reforms, companies and countries looking to sway Congress find ways to ply lawmakers with fancy overseas trips.
PLAY OF THE DAY!
- A Freezing Rain Advisory is in effect. (until 10 a.m.)
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Rain or freezing rain this morning, then rain likely this afternoon. Ice accumulation around a trace. Highs in the lower 40s. South winds around 5 mph, becoming east this afternoon.
- The House returns at 9 a.m., while the Senate is off for the weekend.
- The Joint Economic Committee meets to consider "The Employment Situation: December 2013." (DSOB G-50, 9:30 a.m.)
- Amtrak President/CEO Joseph "All Ab" Boardman is the National Press Club's Newsmaker Luncheon guest. (12:30 p.m.)
- Jeh Johnson is sworn as Homeland Security secretary by Vice President Biden at the White House. (2 p.m.)
- The Caps host the Maple Leafs. (Verizon Center, 7 p.m.)
- GW looks to bounce back when it hosts Rhode Island. (Smith Center, 2:30 p.m. Saturday)
- NFL Playoffs: Saturday: Saints vs. Seahawks (WTTG-TV, 4:35 p.m.), Colts vs. Patriots (WUSA-TV, 8:15 p.m.). Sunday: 49ers vs. Panthers (WTTG-TV, 1:05 p.m.), Chargers vs. Broncos (WUSA-TV, 4:40 p.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- Then-New York Gov. Franklin Roosevelt (D) and then-New Jersey Gov. Morgan Larson (R) opened the George Washington Bridge in 1931.
- The winner is Paul Equale, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "What was the key issue in Bill Clinton's loss of the Arkansas governor's mansion in 1980? Hint: Governors need to pay attention to people who drive cars." The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- Conservatives on Chris Christie: Diva Getting What He Deserves
- The Parties Have Already Devised Their Midterm Messages
- How Millennials Have Already Reshaped Politics
- Yes, the Recovery Is Really, Finally Here
- Why Obama Is Afraid to Tout the Recovery
"I am a very sad person today." -- Christie (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief
Adam Wollner, Editor
Adam Wollner contributed to this article.