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- The Senate voted 78-16 on Monday to confirm Jeh Johnson as Department of Homeland Security Secretary. (National Journal)
- In KY SEN, the conservative outside group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition "plans to launch a heavy-duty ad campaign defending Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R) credentials" as an opponent of Obamacare, and tying him to Sen. Rand Paul (R). The group "will spend $382,000 over the next week on TV ads across the Bluegrass State, tying McConnell to his conservative junior colleague and blasting the national health care overhaul backed by Democrats." (Politico)
- Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) "plans to move to New Hampshire, the latest sign that he's considering" a Senate bid there. Brown "has found a buyer for his Wrentham home and is set to close" this week. (Bloomberg News)
- Also in NH SEN, the group Ending Spending (R) is going after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in a new ad. (WMUR-TV)
- In GA SEN, businessman Eugene Yu (R) "plans to air ads in Augusta, Savannah, Atlanta, Columbus and Macon" accusing GOP Reps. Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey of missing too many House votes. (Florida Times-Union)
- In IA SEN, businessman Mark Jacobs's (R) campaign has reserved over $100,000 in airtime for his first television ad, launching Tuesday. (Politico)
- In IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) launched a new television ad focused on term limits. (release)
- In IA GOV, a new Quinnipiac University poll of RVs, conducted Dec. 10-15, shows Gov. Terry Branstad (R) leading state Sen. Jack Hatch (D), 49-33%. Branstad also leads former state Rep. Bob Krause (D), 49-31%; and state Rep. Tyler Olson (D), 50-32%. (release)
- A new Des Moines Register poll of IA GOV LVs, conducted Dec. 8-11 by Selzer & Company, shows Branstad leading Hatch, 52-29%; and Olson, 51-28%. (release)
- It's Election Day in the AL-01 special, where former state Sen. Bradley Byrne (R) is expected to coast to victory. The polls are open until 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
- Congressional ethics watchdogs have decided to investigate whether the House should hand down its own punishment to Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) for his misdemeanor cocaine-possession conviction last month. (National Journal)
- The DCCC is launching an online ad campaign in 44 districts. The ad, "Face of Repeal," highlights Americans who would be negatively affected if Obamacare were repealed. (Hotline reporting)
- In MN-07, the GOP outside group American Future Fund "has started attacking" Rep. Collin Peterson (D) in an ad, "less than two weeks after a local Republican state lawmaker announced he would challenge the longtime Democrat in 2014." (Roll Call)
- According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll of national adults, conducted Dec. 12-15, 43% approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, while 55% disapprove. In the previous poll, conducted Nov. 14-17m 42% approved of Obama, and 55% disapproved. (release)
- The poll also shows Democrats leading the generic ballot among RVs, 47-45%. In the previous poll, conducted Oct. 17-20, Democrats led, 48-40%. (release)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• Tuesday's ABC News/Washington Post poll, along with poll averages, show that the decline in Obama's approval ratings has abated. But if Obama's approval rating still sits between 40-45% on Election Day, Democrats are unlikely to make significant gains in the House, and the Senate (given the seats Democrats are defending from their 2006 victories) is firmly in play.
• In a crowded field of unknown contenders, Jacobs is putting his financial advantage to good use in Iowa. With a decent-sized TV buy launching on Tuesday, Jacobs is the first GOP candidate on air. The other Republicans have struggled to raise money up to this point, so Jacobs' personal wealth could allow him to build up an early name-ID advantage.
HAIR OF THE DOG
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- "On the first day of the recount" in Virginia's "tight race for attorney general," state Sen. Mark Herring (D) "had widened his lead" over state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) "to 305 votes, up from 165." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- "White House Won't Explain Sochi Delegation Announcement Delay" (BuzzFeed)
- "Edward Snowden said Monday that his decision to expose National Security Agency surveillance programs was vindicated by a federal judge's ruling that the mass collection of phone data is probably unconstitutional." (USA Today)
- "Democrats cross Chris Christie over bridge" (Politico)
- "I've always thought that Santa Claus is a short, Jewish, balding 72-year-old guy, so I'll give it a go." -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), on what he plans to do next. (New York Daily News)
- "There was a button to turn on the engine! ... A button to call somebody. ... I kept looking for the clutch!" -- Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D), who will be driving himself around for the first time in 20 years as he leaves office. (Boston Globe)
- "Interviewed on stage during a conference," California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) "recalled a 'shocking' exam he took as a senior in high school. It included only one question, Brown said: 'Write your impression of a green leaf.' Brown, now 75, said he 'didn't know how to deal with it' and that even now, walking by a tree, he wonders, 'How's my impression going? Can I feel anything.'" (Sacramento Bee)
- Former Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D) "sexting sweetheart, Sydney Leathers, and her cosmetically enhanced body grace a 30-foot billboard in Manhattan for a dating site which pairs women with 'sugar daddies.' The ad for ArrangementFinders.com, located at the corner of Varick and Dominick Sts., encourages men to 'Get a Mistress for Christmas.'" (New York Daily News)
- "Members of Congress viewed worse than car salespeople" (Washington Post)
PLAY OF THE DAY!
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Cloudy. Rain showers likely this afternoon. Highs in the lower 40s. South winds around 5 mph, becoming west this afternoon.
- The Senate is back at 9 a.m.
- The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee meets "to examine the Navy Yard tragedy, focusing on the physical security for Federal facilities." (DSOB 342, 10:30 a.m.)
- Georgetown hosts Elon. (Verizon Center, 7 p.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- The two figures on the porch of the 300-pound gingerbread house replica of the White House are the Obamas' dogs Bo and Sunny.
- The winner is Byron Tau, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "The two federal laws that keep D.C. buildings to a maximum height of 130 feet were passed as a reaction to the construction of this Dupont Circle 'skyscraper' in 1894?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fiscal Bliss
- The Obscure Iowa Scandal That Reaches All the Way to Mitch McConnell
- Fallout From the 'Me Generation' Fuels Crisis in Congress
- 5 Things to Know About the NSA Court Ruling
- Is Congress Turning Off Your Televangelist?
"Some people, when they start, you are already writing the press release for when they leave." -- Andrew Glincher, CEO at Nixon Peabody, where Brown currently works (Bloomberg News)
"There's nobody that can beat him." -- Menino on Brown, in 2011 (Political Wire)
Julie Sobel, Editor
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief