“In the clearest sign he’s ready to challenge” Sen. Bill Nelson (D), Gov. Rick Scott (R) “has raised more than $1.1 million for a super PAC he recently revived and stocked it with top consultants from his previous campaigns. Privately, he’s talked up his good polling numbers, according to several supporters who have spoken to Scott recently.”
“Scott won’t say which way he’s leaning, but some of those familiar with the governor’s thinking peg the likelihood of him running between 80 and 95 percent.”
“The governor has been displaying this confidence to an increasing number of new donors this year to his New Republican PAC, which he started to lead as chairman in May. … In the first month under Scott, the federal committee pulled in more than $275,000. … In the final six months of the year, the committee hauled in more than $848,000.”
“Since May, Scott has hired Virginia-based fundraising firm Drucker Lawhon. … Scott also brought on the prominent Republican law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky, whose many national clients include the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. … Other Scott insiders working for New Republican PAC include his longtime fundraiser, Deborah Aleksander, and his former chief of staff and 2014 campaign manager Melissa Stone.” (Politico)
SURVEY SAYS. Scott “finished 2017 on an upswing (7 net points) in popularity in the Sunshine State compared to the prior quarter,” according to Morning Consult’s Governor Approval Rankings.
“Fifty-eight percent of voters in Florida approved of Scott during the fourth quarter, compared with 31 percent who disapproved. Scott maintained strong support from GOP voters during the last six months of the year, from 79 percent in the third quarter to 82 percent the following three months. His approval numbers among independents also increased, from 47 percent to 53 percent, along with an 8-point gain among Democrats, during the same time period.” (Morning Consult)
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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.
"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."