CA GOV: Businessman John Cox (R) launched his first TV ad on Tuesday with a statewide Fox News buy on cable and satellite beginning minutes before the State of the Union. The spot depicts “special-interest lobbyists” in Sacramento as pigs “buying influence and basically sticking it to the middle class.” In particular it targets “corporate welfare, liberal causes, and … public employee unions, the biggest special interest of all.” (release) A spokesman for Cox said the buy cost $200,000. (Hotline reporting)
Rep. Jackie Speier (D), on rumors she was considering a bid for governor, responded, “I need to be here” in Washington working on sexual assault issues. (Politico)
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo will endorse former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) on Wednesday. (Mercury News)
Equality California endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). (Los Angeles Blade)
“State Treasurer John Chiang (D) laid out a plan Tuesday to create a public bank for marijuana merchants in open defiance of what he called an ‘out of step’ Trump administration fixing to take the hose to California’s sizzling new herbal trade.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
All of the Democratic candidates agreed on supporting abortion rights at a form held by NARAL Pro-Choice California. (San Francisco Chronicle)
“None of the major candidates for governor, Republican or Democrat, are sold on Gov. Butch Otter’s (R) plan to hire a $200,000-a-year higher education ‘CEO.’” (Idaho Ed News)
NY GOV: State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R) “formally announced his candidacy on Tuesday afternoon, presenting it as a crusade to return the state to past prosperity. … DeFrancisco has nearly $1.5 million in two separate campaign accounts, according to Board of Election records.” (New York Times)
Checkmate Strategies co-founder Michael Lawler “will serve as general consultant for DeFrancisco’s campaign, overseeing its daily operations and strategy. Lawler ran former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s 2014 campaign” and worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) 2008 presidential campaign. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
The Human Rights Campaign will endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Wednesday. (New York Daily News)
Cuomo will host a Super Bowl watch party in New York City on Sunday. (New York Times)
SC GOV: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) proclaimed Sunday as “Stand for the Flag Super Bowl Sunday” in South Carolina. (Charleston Post & Courier)
TN GOV: “Former state Sen. Mae Beavers (R) has ended her bid for governor, making her the first top-tier candidate to exit the race. Beavers announced her decision in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon. … In her latest financial disclosure, she reported raising just $150,000 from donors and political action committees in the last six months. During the short-lived campaign, Beavers’ staff underwent several personnel changes, going through at least three spokespeople.” (Nashville Tennessean)
Beavers’s contributors included state Sen. Mark Pody, former Sen. Stacey Campfield, eye surgeon Ming Wang, former state Rep. Joe Carr’s (R) PAC, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s sister, Susan. Her Senate campaign committee and her Freedom PAC also gave. “During the 2016 presidential election, Freedom PAC was the recipient of the proceeds from the sale of homemade Donald Trump gear made and sold by Beavers and her husband.” (Nashville Tennessean)
Former state economic commissioner Randy Boyd (R) will aire his first TV ad Thursday “with an estimated $300,000 buy on statewide broadcast and cable television.” Filings “showed the Boyd campaign had reserved broadcast television ad time in the Chattanooga, Tri-Cities, Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis television markets. That included $42,550 in time reserved on WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, although reserved time doesn’t necessarily mean that will be what is actually spent.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Home services executive Bill Lee (R) features prominently in his company’s advertising, which is “running on TV stations around the area.” “It can be difficult to distinguish between the two ads [of his business and campaign]. … And that blurry line between his business and political interests could cause at least minor headaches for a Lee governorship, according to legal experts. A Lee Company spokesperson insists the company’s marketing strategy has not changed since Lee launched his Republican bid for governor in April 2017. … Though previous Tennessee governors, as well as current candidates for the position, have held significant private business interests, it appears unprecedented in the modern era for the state’s chief executive also to hold state contracts paying thousands of dollars directly to his or her private business.” A Lee spokesman said Walker “would ‘remove himself’ from the company if elected, ‘but obviously there still might be some legal hurdles there, and those things he’d be happy to address and follow the law.’” (Nashville Post)
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"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."
"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.