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 indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."
"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."
"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "
"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.