AL GOV: State Sen. Bill Hightower (R) told supporters on Wednesday that he has qualified for the primary ballot. (Hotline reporting)
CA GOV: University of California Regent Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D), at a recent meeting on tuition hikes “turned on Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), an ex-officio regent, and complained that while he opposed tuition hikes, he did not lobby Sacramento for more money. Newsom replied: ‘You are picking on me. Here’s what I’m going to do: Not take the bait.’ He later said that regents’ mistrust of each other was a ‘festering wound’ causing bigger problems than uneasy relations with Sacramento.” (Los Angeles Times)
GA GOV: “In the 48 hours after” Sen. Doug Jones’s (D-AL) win, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) “saw a surge of Twitter followers and brought in $50,000 in low-dollar donations from 1,500 people, according to a spokeswoman.” (OZY)
“A now-deleted Instagram video posted by” former state Rep. Stacey Evans’s (D) “campaign has sparked backlash because it ended by fading from her face to Martin Luther King Jr.’s image. The video was shot by the gubernatorial candidate’s campaign aides last week as she visited Ebenezer Baptist Church on MLK Day.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“The effort to retire Georgia’s aging, electronic voting machines got a boost Wednesday from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) … who said the legislature must act ‘in haste’ to setup a new paper ballot system.” Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) responded by accusing Cagle of joining “leading liberal conspiracy theorists like Barack Obama, Stacey Abrams, and the ACLU in attacking Georgia’s voting rolls, processes, and the citizens across the state.” (WABE)
HI GOV: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) endorsed Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) over Gov. David Ige (D) on Wednesday, saying “Hanabusa offers the strong leadership that Hawaii ‘so desperately needs.’”
Hanabusa “noted that this is only the second time that Gabbard, a three-term congresswoman, has made a primary endorsement. The other time made national news, when Gabbard bucked party leadership to campaign for the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). … While it’s not clear whether Gabbard’s progressive credentials will influence Hawaii voters to cast their lot with Hanabusa, it’s worth recalling that Sanders creamed [Hillary] Clinton in the Democratic Party’s Hawaii presidential preference poll in 2016.” (Honolulu Civil Beat)
ID GOV: Singer Cher endorsed state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D) on Wednesday, saying she believes Idaho would be “WELL SERVED” by Jordan, “a thoughtful, Caring,Intelligent,Woman.” She said the two met at the Las Vegas Women’s March. (Twitter)
“Jordan drew immense cheers at Sunday’s Las Vegas women’s march when she announced she was running to be not only Idaho’s first female governor, but also the first Native American woman to be governor in any state.” (AP)
KS GOV: Term-limited Gov. Sam Brownback (R) will resign effective Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. to serve as ambassador at-large for international religious freedom. (Twitter)
The Senate voted 50-49, with the help of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, on Wednesday to confirm Brownback’s nomination to be the ambassadorship. (Hotline reporting)
“Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), a Johnson County surgeon, will officially succeed Brownback after performing many of the governor’s key duties in recent months, including selecting Cabinet appointees and playing a major role in crafting the governor’s budget proposal.”
Colyer: “We want Kansans to know that they’re going to have somebody who is going to listen to them. … I’ll be working very closely with the Legislature and a lot of folks. You’ll just see a lot of energy and a little different approach.” (Kansas City Star)
OK GOV: Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (R) “is running precisely on making the rest of the state look like his city.”
Cornett: “As state politics and national politics get more and more partisan, people are starting to look at local government as the last level where things really get done, and governing takes precedence over politics.” (Politico)
SC GOV: “Gov. Henry McMaster’s (R) first State of the State served as an unofficial launch of the 2018 gubernatorial race, as the Republican governor seeking his first full term took familiar GOP stances on topics ranging from cutting taxes to boosting law enforcement. … Standing behind McMaster at the podium was one of his GOP rivals, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant. Giving the Democratic response was state Rep. James Smith, who’s seeking his party’s nomination. Smith’s primary opponent, Phil Noble, live-streamed his own rebuttal. And McMaster’s top challenger in the money race, former state agency head Catherine Templeton (R), tweeted her own criticism.” (Charleston Post & Courier)
TN GOV: The Tennessee Pipe Trades endorsed former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (D) on Monday, his campaign announced Thursday. (release)
TX GOV: The Texas Alliance For Life PAC endorsed Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday. (release)
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"The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed sweeping bipartisan opioid legislation, concluding the chamber’s two-week voteathon on dozens of bills to address the drug abuse epidemic. The measure combines more than 50 bills approved individually by the House focusing on expanding access to treatment, encouraging the development of alternative pain treatments and curbing the flow of illicit drugs into the U.S. It was passed 396-14, with 13 Republicans and one Democrat voting against the package."
In a letter to Congress on Friday, President Trump wrote that he's continuing the national emergency status with respect to North Korea, citing the country's “provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions," which "continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the United States. In a series of tweets following his meeting with Kim Jong-un, Trump said Americans could sleep well at night because North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.
"The U.S. Navy is preparing plans to construct sprawling detention centers for tens of thousands of immigrants on remote bases in California, Alabama and Arizona, escalating the military’s task in implementing President Donald Trump’s 'zero tolerance' policy for people caught crossing the Southern border." The document outlines plans for "temporary and austere" internment camps for 25,000 migrants "at abandoned airfields just outside the Florida panhandle," and in Alabama, for 47,000 people near San Francisco, and "as many as 47,000 people at Camp Pendleton" in California. The document estimates that operating a camp to detain 25,000 people for six months would cost approximately $233 million.
"Lasers have targeted pilots of American military aircraft operating over the western Pacific Ocean more than 20 times in recent months," said U.S. officials. The lasers appeared to be coming from Chinese fishing boats in the South China Sea, said the officials, which is the setting of a "long-running dispute between China and Japan over the control of nearby islands ... The incidents likely will come up as part of a broader discussion of issues when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visits Beijing next week and meets Chinese President Xi Jinping."
"President Donald Trump has unveiled a new policy that depicts the world’s oceans as a resource ripe for expanded business opportunities, reversing the Obama administration's emphasis on protecting 'vulnerable' marine environments." Rather than emphasizing environmental protection, as Obama's policy did, "Trump’s directive speaks mostly to the oceans as a resource for promoting national security" and creating jobs.