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- "After a dramatic vote, the Senate cleared the critical 60-vote threshold Wednesday that allowed for passage of legislation to suspend the Treasury's borrowing limit. The cliffhanger vote was scheduled for 15 minutes, but it lasted an hour. It ended when" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "and his leadership team voted to end a potential GOP filibuster, casting votes that left them exposed to attacks from conservative opponents. After the filibuster threat was choked off, the Senate approved the debt ceiling legislation on a party-line vote, 55 to 43, sending it on to President Obama for his signature, ensuring that the Treasury will not default on more than $17 trillion in federal debt." (Washington Post)
- A new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media poll of FL-13 Special LVs, conducted Feb. 4-9 by Braun Research, shows former state CFO Alex Sink (D) leading former lobbyist David Jolly (R), 42-35%, with Lucas Overby (L) at 4%. (release)
- In AK SEN, Put Alaska First PAC released a new TV ad on Wednesday painting former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) as a resident of a "swanky" D.C. suburb who "pocketed a Maryland tax credit for residents living there" while "voting in Alaska, claiming to be one of us." (release)
- In LA SEN, Americans for Prosperity (R) "went on the air statewide in Louisiana with ... a new ad hitting" Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). "The ad depicts people reading insurance cancellation notices" and "will air for three weeks, with a budget of around $750,000." (Politico)
- In MT SEN, American Crossroads (R) launched a new direct-to-camera TV ad on Wednesday highlighting local news reports from earlier this year that newly appointed Sen. John Walsh (D) was reprimanded by the Army in 2010. (release)
- Walsh responded with a new TV ad of his own later in the day, touting his military experience and saying "it's going to take a lot more than smear ads to keep me from taking on Washington, and doing right by Montana." (release)
- In VA SEN, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie (R), "who helped co-found the American Crossroads super PAC with GOP strategist Karl Rove, won't be relying on Rove's group as his chief outside booster in his ... campaign. He's getting a super PAC of his own. Allies of Gillespie ... have created the We Can Do Better PAC." (National Journal)
- In CA-31, Rep. Gary Miller (R) "announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection to his Inland Empire seat, increasing prospects for a Democratic pickup. ... Miller, elected to the House in 1998, was among the Democrats' top targets this year and regarded as among the nation's most vulnerable Republicans – if not the most." (Los Angeles Times)
- In MI-03, Americans for Prosperity (R) "will spend about $230,000 on advertisements thanking" Rep. Justin Amash (R) "for fighting against ... Obama's signature health care law, officials there said — a shot at establishment donors who are rallying behind his challenger," businessman Brian Ellis (R). (New York Times)
- In NY-21, documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf (D) "won the Democratic designation" Wednesday "as the party's candidate." (Syracuse Post-Standard)
- In VA-10, Del. Robert Marshall (R) "is jumping into the ... race to succeed retiring" Rep. Frank Wolf (R), "adding a prominent conservative name to a crowded Northern Virginia field. Marshall is at least the seventh GOP candidate for Wolf's district." (Washington Post)
- EMILY's List (D) on Thursday endorsed attorney Aimee Belgard (D) in NJ-03, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence (D) in MI-14 and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (D) in NY-04. (release)
- In IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) began airing a new TV ad Wednesday rebutting "false attacks" from Gov. Pat Quinn's (D) "allies and the Springfield insiders." (release)
- In NY GOV, a new Quinnipiac University poll of RVs, conducted Feb. 6-10, shows Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) leading Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino (R), 58-24%. In the previous poll, conducted Nov. 20-24, Cuomo led Astorino, 56-25%. (release)
- In WI GOV, the Republican Governors Association will air an ad attacking former Trek executive Mary Burke (D) "for her tenure as state Commerce Secretary" under former Gov. Jim Doyle (D), starting Feb. 19. "An RGA official said the committee would spend six figures running the advertisement on broadcast and cable television." (Washington Post)
Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day
• California's delegation has just hemorrhaged seniority over the past two Congresses, and Gary Miller's retirement deepened the trend. 20 California representatives have now left in the last few years (13 retired, 7 defeated), taking a combined 219 terms of House experience with them. And don't forget that 7-term Rep. Mike Honda (D) is facing a serious challenge this year, too. -- Scott Bland
• The RGA is putting some of the $50 million it raised in 2013 to use in Wisconsin, where the group will target Democrat Mary Burke in its second ad of the cycle. Democrats have more pick up opportunities than Republicans in governors races this year, but the DGA's comparatively small $28 million haul from last year means many attack ads will go unanswered. The financial disparity puts some of the group's most promising candidates at a real disadvantage. -- Karyn Bruggeman
HAIR OF THE DOG
"An Easthampton [Mass.] middle school student, in a scene straight out of the movie 'A Christmas Story' got their tongue stuck to a metal pole." (AP)
FRESH BREWED BUZZ
- "Ray Nagin (D), the former two-term mayor of New Orleans indicted after he left office, was convicted Wednesday of 20 federal corruption charges for illegal dealings with city vendors, dating back to 2004. A jury delivered its verdict just before 1 p.m., after six hours of deliberations that followed a nine-day trial. ... Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could face a 20-year prison term, possibly more, lawyers have said." (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
- CA-52 candidate Carl DeMaio (R) "is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, and he would be at least the third to serve in the House if he wins. But ... DeMaio on Thursday will take a step that none of them has, airing a campaign ad that features a shot of him with his same-sex partner. ... Several GOP campaign officials and Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks campaign ads for the nonpartisan firm Kantar Media, said it was the first time they knew of a candidate of either party airing an ad featuring a gay partner." (Wall Street Journal)
- Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) "said Thursday that he will seek the Republican nomination for Arkansas lieutenant governor, jumping into state politics just months after announcing his retirement from Congress." (AP)
- "Former Vice President Walter Mondale on Wednesday had heart surgery at Mayo Clinic in" Rochester, Minn. "The surgery, which a statement said was 'successful,' came just a few days after Joan Mondale, the vice president's wife, passed away. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
- "Tom Sullivan, whose 27-year-old son Alex was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, on Wednesday voiced outrage at comments from a state senator who said it was perhaps 'a good thing' the gunman had a 100-round magazine." State Sen. Bernie Herpin, (R) "said it 'was maybe a good thing he (suspect James Holmes) had a 100–round magazine because it jammed,' in a July 2012 shooting that killed 12 and injured dozens." (Denver Post)
- "John Cornyn is treating Ted Cruz's back like his own personal cutlery holder." -- TX SEN candidate/Rep. Steve Stockman (R), in a tweet following Wednesday's debt ceiling vote
- "Comcast is expected to announce on Thursday an agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable for more than $45 billion in stock, a deal that would combine the biggest and second-biggest cable television operators in the country." (New York Times)
- "'Duck Dynasty' patriarch rules out Senate run" (The Hill)
PLAY OF THE DAY!
- A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect. (until 3 p.m.)
- A Winter Weather Advisory is also in effect. (5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday)
- Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Rain, sleet and snow. Additional snow and sleet accumulation of 2-4 inches. Highs in the mid 30s. North winds 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
- "Closings and Delays" (WTOP-FM)
- The men's figure skating short program begins. (NBC Sports Network, 10 a.m./11:45 a.m.)
- Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!
- Wesley Mouch drafted Directive 10-289 in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."
- The winner is Michael Semeniuk, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "What is the only United States battleship not named after a state?" The 1st correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.
NJ'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- Democrats Meddling in GOP Primaries Again
- GOP Likely to Cede Retiring Miller's House Seat
- The Search Is On for the GOP's Super-PAC Sugar Daddy
- Republicans Look Good in the Senate—Except McConnell
- Is the Death Penalty Dying?
"No, no." -- MSNBC host and former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough, when asked by Barbara Walters on "The View" Wednesday if he wants to run for president in 2016 (Mediaite)
"I won't rule anything out. I've always said, and I've always been very open about the fact that the greatest job I ever had, and the greatest honor I ever had, was being in the House of Representatives. And it was an absolute thrill. ... But no, I've always said I wanted to get back in. It's just a matter of timing, and we'll seen when it happens." -- Scarborough, when asked on Wednesday by radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt if he's ruled out a presidential run (transcript)
Adam Wollner, Editor
Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief
Steven Shepard contributed to this article.