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Obama Pledges Year of Action in SOTU; Sasse Leads NE SEN Cash Race; NY's Grimm Threatens Reporter Obama Pledges Year of Action in SOTU; Sasse Leads NE SEN Cash Race; NY...

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Obama Pledges Year of Action in SOTU; Sasse Leads NE SEN Cash Race; NY's Grimm Threatens Reporter

Wake-Up Call! is Hotline's daily morning briefing on campaigns and elections. Click here to subscribe.


  • "After five years of fractious political combat, President Obama declared independence from Congress on Tuesday as he vowed to tackle economic disparity with a series of limited initiatives on jobs, wages and retirement that he will enact without legislative approval. Promising 'a year of action' as he tries to rejuvenate a presidency mired in low approval ratings and stymied by partisan stalemates, Mr. Obama used his annual State of the Union address to chart a new path forward relying on his own executive authority. But the defiant 'with or without Congress' approach was more assertive than any of the individual policies he advanced." (New York Times)
  • Obama's "declaration in Tuesday's State of the Union address that he will resort to using executive power to advance his policy goals drew fire from Republicans who believe he is overreaching his authority. Mr. Obama's promise to use executive orders to get around a gridlocked Congress exacerbated mounting GOP frustration with previous administrative actions in areas such as immigration and the health law." (Wall Street Journal)
  • In MN SEN, St. Louis County Commissioner Steve Dahlberg (R) raised $103,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 and has "roughly" $47,000 cash on hand. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
  • In NE SEN, Midland University President Ben Sasse (R) raised "nearly" $570,000 in the fourth quarter and has $1 million cash on hand, while Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale (R) raised $685,000 and has $471,000 cash on hand. Former Treasurer Shane Osborn (R) raised $369,000 and has $582,000 cash on hand, and Omaha attorney Bart McLeay (R) raised $134,000 and has $193,000 cash on hand. (Omaha World-Herald)
  • Oklahoma state House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) "will launch his" OK SEN "bid on Wednesday with a series of kickoff events in the state." (The Hill)
  • Also in OK SEN, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R) "will not run. ... National conservative groups had been urging Bridenstine into the race." (The Hill)
  • In FL-19, former Rep. Connie Mack (R), "who served four terms in Congress representing Southwest Florida, said late Tuesday that he would not try to reclaim his seat." (Fort Myers News-Press)
  • In MI-03, East Grand Rapids School Board member Brian Ellis (R) raised "more than" $500,000, including "about $200,000 out of his own pocket," in the fourth quarter. (Detroit Free Press)
  • "The conservative national group FreedomWorks is backing a trio of House candidates in contested primaries": Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) in IA-03, businessman Tommy Moll (R) in AR-04, and state Rep. Adam Kwasman (R) in AZ-01. (The Hill)
  • In MN GOV, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) raised $1.1 million in 2013 and has "about" $800,000 cash on hand. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
  • In NE GOV, 2006 SEN nominee Pete Ricketts (R) raised "nearly $1.4 million during the first four months of his campaign" and has $931,000 cash on hand. (Lincoln Journal Star)
  • Also in NE GOV, former University of Nebraska Board of Regents member Chuck Hassebrook (D) raised $525,000 in 2013. (Lincoln Journal Star)
  • "The first television advertisement in the" PA GOV Democratic primary features former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty (D) "talking about the values she learned growing up middle class in Northeast Philadelphia." (Philadelphia Inquirer)


Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day


• Keeping the Senate majority isn't an impossible task for Democrats; far from it. But some recent history shows why it is so hard when your party also holds the presidency. Over the last decade, just nine Senate candidates have won elections with a president of their party below his national approval average in their state. (Arlen Specter in 2004, when Bush was at 50% in PA but at 53% nationally, is one example.) That's about one success in every ten races. Cross-party success has been a lot easier to come by when the senator's party is out of power (think Ben Nelson's commanding victory in Nebraska in 2006). Democrats have proven they can win in red states, but Obama's approval languishing at 40 percent or below in six of them won't help.

• Tale of 2014: Red-state Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) all released statements expressing disappointment with the president's State of the Union -- a sign that there's not much he can do to help their reelections. Even Sen. Mark Udall (D), in battleground Colorado, repeatedly avoided whether he'd embrace the president's help back home.

• Unlike most competitive U.S. Senate contests, most of the year's hot gubernatorial races are in states Obama won in 2012 -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Maine, Ohio and Wisconsin. It's surprising, then, that Democrat Mary Burke doesn't want to campaign with the president when he arrives in the Badger State on Thursday. Obama's local approval rating was at 44% in the latest Marquette poll, with 50% disapproving, while just 35% of Wisconsinites have a favorable opinion of the health care law. It looks like the president's becoming a liability even in what was once-friendly territory.



  • "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid embraced" Obama's "standing in an exclusive interview with CNN on Tuesday, stating that he encourages vulnerable Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014 to invite the President to campaign with them even in states where he is unpopular." (CNN)
  • Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) "physically threatened NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following Tuesday night's State of the Union address." Following a question about a federal investigation into Grimm's campaign finances, Grimm said to Scotto, "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f---ing balcony." After Scotto pushed back, Grimm added, "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy." (NY1)
  • "Tonight I left early after hearing how the President is further abusing his Constitutional powers. I could not bear to watch as he continued to cross the clearly-defined boundaries of the Constitutional separation of powers." -- TX SEN candidate/Rep. Steve Stockman (R), in a statement after walking out of Obama's State of the Union address (Dallas Morning News)
  • "On the floor of the House waiting on 'Kommandant-in-Chef' the Socialistic Dictator who's been feeding US a line or is it 'A-Lyin'?" -- Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) in a tweet prior to the State of the Union address. "Weber's office confirmed it came from the congressman." (Houston Chronicle)
  • "With cancer under control, Jesse Ferguson keeps message under control, too" (Washington Post)
  • WI GOV candidate/former Trek executive Mary Burke (D) "will be campaigning in western Wisconsin later this week and won't join" Obama "when he's on the other side of the state, her campaign spokesman said Tuesday." (AP)
  • "I find a lot more honest people in politics than I do in movies." -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who now serves as the CEO of EchoLight Studios (Yahoo News)


The State of the Union's Awkward, Mixed Messages



  • Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 20s. Northwest winds around 10 mph.
  • The House returns at 9 a.m., and the Senate is back at 10 a.m.
  • Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) will announce the formation of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus. (2226 RHOB, 10 a.m.)
  • Obama makes remarks at a Costco in Prince George's County, Md. (Woodmore Towne Center, 10:25 a.m.)
  • GW looks to a avenge their only Atlantic 10 loss against La Salle. (Smith Center, 7 p.m.)
  • AU tries to keep its perfect Patriot League season alive when it hosts Navy. (Bender Arena, 7:30 p.m.)
  • Maryland can get back on track in the ACC with a win over Miami. (Comcast Center, 9 p.m.)
  • No. 1 Arizona takes its unbeaten record to Palo Alto against Stanford. (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)
  • Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!


  • Sen. Arthur Brown (R) of Utah, which was not granted statehood until 1896, was shot by his mistress on Dec. 8, 1906.
  • The winner is Joe Luchok, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "What current member of Congress carried the nuclear launch codes for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.



"And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world." -- Obama, during Tuesday night's State of the Union address


"Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now." -- Obama on Jan. 22, 2009, after signing an executive order to shut down Guantanamo Bay

Adam Wollner, Editor

Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief


Steven Shepard contributed to this article.

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