READ IN: Tuesday, April 15, 2014: Senate staff negotiating Transportation bill, Landrieu will start $2m ad blitz, Dems vs. minimum wage in Alaska, and happy Tax Day

April 15, 2014

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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.

-- President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a tense phone call Monday over the crisis in Ukraine. The Kremlin initiated the call, in which the White House said Obama "reiterated the importance of Russia withdrawing its troops from the Ukraine border in order to defuse tensions." The U.S. also confirmed CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev this weekend, in what they said was part of a previously scheduled trip. (Washington Post)

-- Ukraine on Monday asked the United Nations to send peace-keeping troops to the eastern part of the country, after acting President Oleksandr Turchynov's threat of a large-scale anti-terror operation came and went without meaningful action. Armed pro-Russian protestors seized another government building near Donetsk. (New York Times)

-- A robotic submarine looking for the missing Malaysian flight 370 abandoned its first mission after just six hours after exceeding its maximum depth of 15,000 feet. Deeper-diving submarines aren't yet available to help the search, which is centered on some of the deeper parts of the Indian Ocean. (Associated Press)

-- Fixing the Heartbleed bug could cause major disruptions to the internet over several weeks as repairs take place on hundreds of thousands of websites at the same time. Estimates of just how damaging the bug can be continue to grow as researchers grapple to better understand its scope. Safe to say: It's big. (Washington Post)

-- Staffers for the four senators negotiating a transportation bill Congress will take up later this year are meeting daily during recess, trying craft a bill on an aggressive timeline set by Senate EPW Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), aides tell us. Boxer wants to introduce a bill when members are back from Easter recess, though realistically something is more likely to drop in the first half of May. EPW's goal: Hammer out a framework, then put pressure on the Finance Committee to come up with funding.

-- Health insurance premiums sold through ObamaCare exchanges will be less expensive than previously thought over the next few years, according to a CBO report released Monday. The report estimated 25 million people will buy plans through the exchanges by 2017, a million more than initially forecast. CBO lowered their cost estimates for the Affordable Care Act by $165 billion, to $1.032 trillion, between 2015 and 2024. (Wall Street Journal)

-- The Washington Post and The Guardian shared a Pulitzer for public service for reporting on the classified NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. The Post's Eli Saslow also won a Pulitzer for his reporting on Americans living on food stamps, while photographer Michael Williamson was a finalist in the feature photography category. The New York Times won both photography categories, while the Center for Public Integrity's Chris Hamby won the prize for investigative reporting. The Boston Globe took home a Pulitzer for breaking news for its coverage of last year's marathon bombing. (Washington Post) Congratulations, too, to winners from the Tampa Bay Times, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Detroit Free Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Oregonian and the Charlotte Observer. Full list of winners here.

-- DO NOT forget to mail in your taxes today. Find your closest Post Office here.

-- Front Pages: WaPo, NYT, WSJ and USA Today all lead with the increasing tension in Ukraine. The Boston Globe's front page looks back and remembers a year after the Boston Marathon bombing.

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- WH'16: Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) spoke to two Republican groups in Charleston, S.C., on Monday. (The State) "Rep. Marsha Blackburn denies weighing presidential bid." (Tennessean) So, there's that.

-- Utah: Former Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love (R) has raised more than $2 million so far this cycle, including $454,000 in the first quarter, for her bid to replace retiring Rep. Jim Matheson (D). But Love spent more than she took in on a big campaign staff and national direct-mail fundraising. Love faces former telecom executive Bob Fuehr (R), state Board of Education member Jennifer Johnson and a radio talk show host in the April 26 state party conventions; if no one gets to 60 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will go to a June 24 runoff. (Salt Lake Tribune)

-- Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) has apologized after questioning in an interview last week whether the late Sen. Dan Inouye's final wish was to be replaced in the Senate by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D). Abercrombie, who picked Sen. Brian Schatz (D) over Hanabusa, told the Los Angeles Times a letter from Inouye naming Hanabusa as his chosen successor was "problematic." Inouye's widow, Irene, called Abercrombie's remarks "hurtful" and "disrespectful." (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) Reid's Take: Schatz isn't the only one with a tough primary. Abercrombie has one too; he's never been a favorite of Inouye loyalists who still make up a huge portion of the state Democratic Party.

-- Alaska: State House Democrats almost killed a measure over the weekend that would have increased the state's minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation, opting instead for a ballot initiative either during the August primary or the November general election. A November vote could help Sen. Mark Begich (D), though it doesn't look great that Democrats put a dent in a minimum wage increase. The Senate has less than a week to pass the measure, meaning voters are likely to get the chance to weigh in. (Washington Post)

-- Nevada: Mitt Romney endorsed state Sen. Mark Hutchison (R) on Monday, joining Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck in choosing Hutchison over former state party chair Sue Lowden. Romney sent a fundraising letter for Hutchison on Monday; Republicans think Hutchison has a better chance of beating Democrat Lucy Flores, which has Senate 2016 domino effects. (Las Vegas Review Journal, background on the dominoes at Washington Post)

DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.

-- President Obama meets with religious leaders in the Oval Office to discuss immigration reform today. This afternoon at 2:49 p.m., Obama will observe a moment of silence to mark the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Obama meets Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, then attends the annual White House Seder to mark the beginning of Passover. Vice President Biden hosts Secretary of State John Kerry for breakfast, then travels to Boston to attend a tribute to the victims of last year's attack.

-- If Republicans win back the Senate, it'll be a boon for centrist Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who will suddenly find themselves courted as Republicans try to win 60 votes to pass their key initiatives. (Politico)

-- Reid's Take: The administration, and Senate Democratic leadership, haven't been able to peel off Republican centrists like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Whether that's because Mitch McConnell enforces party discipline or for lack of Democratic effort, it's adversely impacted this president's legacy. Obama hates being told he needs to reach out more to members on Capitol Hill, and beyond the occasional dinner (last one was a while ago now, wasn't it?), he doesn't glad-hand the pols whose votes he needs. For better or worse, that's just not his style.

-- Press Secretary Prep: Tomorrow is Emancipation Day, an official public holiday in Washington, D.C. City offices and schools will be closed, but a spat between Mayor Vincent Gray and council member Vincent Orange is putting the city's annual parade at risk. Orange wants D.C. agencies to absorb an additional $116,000 in spending for a parade that not a lot of people attend. (Washington Post)

-- About 800 runners from the D.C. area, including Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and aides to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), will participate in the Boston Marathon, which expects a near-record crowd of 36,000 today. (Roll Call)

-- Washington Nationals record so far: Against the Atlanta Braves, 1-5. Against everyone else, 6-0. Only 13 more games against the Braves all season.

TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where

-- North Carolina: Expanding on our report from yesterday, Senate Majority PAC (D) spent Monday buying about $525,000 in broadcast advertising between April 16 and May 6 in the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham markets. American Crossroads is spending about $282,000 this week in most of the same markets for House Speaker Thom Tillis, and they've bought $278,000 in TV time for next week (Comparison's sake: $100,000 in the Charlotte market buys about 400 gross ratings points. The same amount buys about 500 GRPs in Raleigh-Durham). Raleigh News & Observer's profile of GOP candidate Greg Brannon here.

-- Arizona: House Majority PAC on Monday bought $189,000 defending Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (D) in AZ 01, and $114,000 backing up Rep. Ron Barber (D) in AZ 02. The big difference between helping Kirkpatrick, in the Phoenix media market, and Barber, in the Tucson market: The $189,000 in AZ 01 is worth about 500 gross ratings points between April 14-27, while the $114,000 is worth 1,000 GRPs for Barber over the same period.

-- Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is debuting her first ad contrasting her stand on oil and gas with the Obama administration and her position as chair of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee. (Playbook) The ad won't actually start running until next Monday, April 21, when Landrieu is dumping $2 million on broadcast spots in seven media markets. The buy, which runs through June 29, will amount to between 3,000 and 5,500 gross ratings points, a pretty significant early ad onslaught. Landrieu has about a $2.5 million cash-on-hand advantage over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), who has a not-too-shabby $5 million cash reserve.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- "Tax preparers like Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block say they have helped tens of thousands of people apply for tax credits to help defray the cost of private insurance bought through the [health care] exchanges."

-- "H&R Block highlights the connection on its website: 'The name you trust for all your tax needs now also offers friendly, unbiased help when it comes to choosing health insurance.'" (New York Times)

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- The FTC has asked Safeway for more information about a planned merger with Albertson's. A Safeway spokesman said the request wasn't unexpected for a transaction that would create a conglomerate with 2,400 stores, including branches overlapping in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Texas. (San Jose Mercury News)

-- Stock futures are up after U.S. markets added nearly 1 percent yesterday. Asian markets were mixed today while European markets are mostly flat. (CNN)

C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.

-- Sen. Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign pioneered the use of direct mail to raise money, a forerunner of one of the most successful tactics conservative activists used in the following decades. Direct mail helped Goldwater beat New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who had close ties to big donors in the I-95 corridor. Direct mail became an even bigger part of the GOP playbook after the Federal Election Campaign Act limited the influence of big donors. (Arizona Republic)

-- A smart look at the eleven days that will define the outcome of the November election from UVA's Larry Sabato: Circle three primary dates in May, three more in June, four in August and one in September.

-- Sabato: "Probably the most far-reaching lesson will be taught by the five Tea Party challenges to GOP Senate incumbents remaining in Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Maybe a couple more Republican senators will be thrown overboard, proving the durability of the party’s insurgent right wing." (Politico)

C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work

-- Geno Auriemma has won a lot of championships as coach of UConn's women's basketball team. So if you're the governor of Connecticut, you're going to have to learn to pronounce his name. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) learned that the hard way after he botched Auriemma's name on Sunday; the crowd started to boo. About 200,000 turned out to celebrate UConn's double national championship. (Hartford Courant)

Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.

-- Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) has a fundraiser planned with Peter Yarrow, of Peter Paul and Mary. Problem is, Yarrow admitted in 1970 to having an improper relationship with a 14-year old. Republicans have run ads against Democrats for appearing with Yarrow before. Nolan -- who's only five years younger than Yarrow -- may be next. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, has been charged with trespassing and committing violence against a person on restricted property for throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton, federal officials said Monday. Ernst allegedly threw a Puma soccer cleat at Clinton, who was addressing the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. (Las Vegas Sun)

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Aaron Blake · April 14, 2014