READ IN: Monday, April 21, 2014: Prepping for Asia, Dems lead fundraising chase, Kingston whacked by old Bachmann PAC, and Sen. Blumenthal’s close call with Metro-North

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

-- About 36,000 runners will compete in the 118th annual Boston Marathon this Patriot's Day, a year after bombs exploded at the finish line. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said Sunday there is no specific threat against the marathon, though security measures have been heightened. (Boston Globe) Names to know: Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa, who won last year. Kenya's Dennis Kimetto, making his Boston debut. And Kenya's Micah Kogo, who finished second last year. American Ryan Hall, 31, is the top home-grown hope. Kenya's Rita Jeptoo is the odds-on favorite to win the women's race.

-- President Obama heads to Asia Tuesday with stops scheduled in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, a makeup for last year's trip cancelled during the shutdown. He will try to advance trade negotiations with Japan and ease tensions between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. (Washington Post)

-- David Nakamura's Take: There doesn't appear to be a major announcement on the horizon. The administration wanted to be able to make news on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but negotiations between the U.S. and Japan are proceeding slower than planned. Congressional Democrats, too, haven't jumped onboard. Obama's been accused of overselling the pivot to Asia, so a workmanlike trip probably serves to reset expectations well. One wildcard that could help sell the pivot: If American technology helps searchers find Malaysian Flight 370 while Obama's in the region.

-- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited support for Enroll America, the outside group that spent so much urging people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, from the heads of five organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, the GAO said in a report Sunday. The GAO didn't offer a legal opinion on the propriety of fundraising for outside groups. The Johnson Foundation gave at least $13 million to Enroll America. (New York Times)

-- The Obama administration's move Friday to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline denies oil-state Democrats like Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) a win, but it gives them the chance to oppose the White House and assert their independence. The delay also pressures members like Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), newly involved in a tough race, to take a stand on the pipeline project. (Politico)

-- The DSCC has hired Civis Analytics and Precision Strategies, helmed by Obama 2012 veterans, to turn voters out in key Senate races this year. Democrats must recreate the turnout that elected Obama twice, and members like Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) in 2008. Their goal: Engage an electorate that only shows up in presidential years. Their model: Terry McAuliffe's 2013 gubernatorial campaign, which employed some of the same devices to measure needed change in the electorate to win a tough race. (Washington Post) Side note: Only 86 percent of voters knew the next presidential race was in 2016?!? That's like those polls that show a bunch of us can't find the U.S. on a map.

-- Transportation Bill: Don't expect a bunch of earmarks thrown in the Senate version of the bill; members know they won't survive the House. But one project that's likely to get a boost from the bill, Senate insiders say, is Interstate 11, which would connect Phoenix and Las Vegas and, eventually, Reno. Turns out, a majority leader can still get some things done for his state.

-- The Senate is way ahead of the House on planning and writing a bill. Part of the reason is a date circled on every transportation lobbyist's calendar: May 20, when House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster faces two challengers in a GOP primary. He isn't going to release a big-spending bill before getting through a Tea Party challenge.

-- Front Pages: WaPo, USA Today and NYT lead with escalating strife in Ukraine. WSJ looks at the still-sluggish recovery. And the Denver Post celebrates 4/20 with a three-byline report on marijuana-fest.

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- Battle for Congress: The NRCC ended March with $31.2 million in the bank, the committee said late Sunday. The DCCC reported ending the month with $40 million on hand. The DSCC has $22 million on hand, versus $15.9 million for the NRSC. The RNC has $12 million stashed away, while the DNC has $9.8 million on hand. Oh, and the DNC also still carries $14.1 million in debt. (Associated Press)

-- Georgia: Establishment Republicans would love to see Rep. Jack Kingston (R) win the Senate nomination, but someone doesn't like the "career politician." A super PAC that backed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and then Mitt Romney in 2012, Citizens for a Working America, is spending $500,000 on new ads hitting Kingston in the Atlanta media market. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, GOP strategist Ed Brookover, Cincinnati lawyer David Langdon and fundraiser Jeremy Hughes are some of the names that have been connected with the PAC in the past. Langdon and Hughes have ties to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Center for Public Integrity)

-- Alaska: Name to know: The Anchorage Daily News profiles former state Natural Resources chief Dan Sullivan (R), who's hoping to knock off Sen. Mark Begich (D). Sullivan has personal money, much of it in stock in RPM International, an industrial product company founded by his grandfather. Ohio residents provided 31 percent of individual contributions to Sullivan's campaign; Democrats and his Republican rivals say the Ohio-born candidate isn't a real Alaskan. (Anchorage Daily News)

-- Maryland: Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) will begin running his first negative ads this week targeting Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's (D) handling of the state's health care exchange. Maryland spent $90 million on technology geared toward the exchange, and it will spend between $40 million and $50 million to replace the broken system with technology created to run Connecticut's health care exchange, the state said Friday. (Baltimore Sun, Washington Post) Reid's Take: Gansler may be the only Democrat in the country to attack a fellow Democrat on the Affordable Care Act. Brown still leads, even Gansler's own polling shows that. But the race is tightening ahead of the June 24 primary.

-- Texas: Gov. Rick Perry (R) is the focus of a grand jury investigation into whether he abused his power by vetoing millions in state funding for public corruption prosecutors. Perry spiked the money after the prosecutor overseeing the program, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg (D), refused to resign following a drunken driving arrest. (Associated Press)

-- Connecticut: Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) short career in the Senate very nearly came to an abrupt end Friday during a press conference at the Milford Metro-North station. Blumenthal was highlighting safety shortcomings on the New York-Connecticut commuter line when he almost got clipped by a passing train. Click for an amazing Vine. (Mediaite)

-- West Virginia: We think this is the first general election newspaper endorsement of the year: The Charleston Gazette backs Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) in an editorial this morning. Tennant is running behind Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. (Charleston Gazette)

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

-- President Obama kicks off his week with the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. He's in private meetings for the rest of the day, before leaving tomorrow for Asia. On his way, he'll stop in Oso, Wash., site of last month's deadly mudslide that killed more than 30 people. Vice President Biden lands in Ukraine today for meetings with the prime minister and acting president. He heads home tomorrow.

-- White House staffers no longer enjoy Tex-Mex Thursdays. The least healthy (best) vending machines are gone. Hummus is everywhere. It's part of an effort to get White House staffers to think about their health, and President Obama himself has urged staffers including Pete Rouse and David Axelrod to work out with his personal trainer.

-- Economic advisor Jason Furman, who dropped 50 pounds, has the nerdiest explanation ever: “At first, I followed a daily budget,” he said. “But based on behavioral economics, I allowed myself to make exceptions — but only if I decided on it several days in advance — because we know that the discount rates we use for our future selves are lower so that we can make better trade-offs between immediate gratification and future costs. Making immediate decisions is myopic and liable to lead to systematically bad choices at the expense of our future selves.” (Washington Post)

-- Library Watch: An Illinois state House committee on Friday voted to contribute $100 million in state funds toward building a Barack Obama presidential library in Chicago. The full House will vote on the measure, advanced by Speaker Michael Madigan, in coming days. Applicants have until June 16 to submit bids to the foundation that will build the library. (Chicago Tribune)

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

-- Above, we told you about new ads hitting Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) in the race to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Here's who else is spending in advance of the May 20 primary:

-- Kingston has spent $1.4 million on ads, almost all of it in the Atlanta market. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) has dropped $726,000, but the Ending Spending Action Fund -- backed by wealthy Republican donors like Joe Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson -- has spent over $1 million trashing Gingrey. What hurts more, ESAF is spending big in markets like Augusta, Columbus and Savannah, where Gingrey hasn't been on the air to defend himself.

-- Businessman David Perdue has spent $730,000 introducing himself to voters. He's spending at least something in six markets, from big-time Atlanta to small-potatoes Macon; he's never run for office before. Rep. Paul Broun (R), who's nearly out of money, has been on air with just two advertising flights, dipping his toes into the water in Atlanta and Macon in late February and early March. That's not the way to win a primary.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- From Chris Cillizza's morning Fix: "Roughly one in five voters in 2012 said that the most important trait in making up their mind about who to vote for was that the candidate 'cares about people like me.' Among that group, Obama won 81 percent of the vote to 18 percent for Romney — a shellacking that told the broader story of the election. People weren’t in love (or even in like) with Obama’s economic policies — or the health-care law — but they viewed the president as someone looking out for them while Romney was cast as an unfeeling plutocrat looking out for himself and his extremely wealthy friends." (Washington Post)

Recess Recap: You went on vacation last week. Here's what you missed.

-- In 2003, Google spent $101,000 on lobbying. In 2012, the company spent $18 million pressing its case, more than all but one other company. Its rise from outsider to consummate insider has benefitted groups on both sides of the political spectrum. Read about Google's investment in this story, from Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold.

-- Mitt Romney's back from Political Siberia, and he wants to use whatever cache he has left to become the anti-Jim DeMint. He's campaigning for a handful of Republicans, though he's not welcome everywhere: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) haven't called. More from Robert Costa and Phil Rucker here.

-- “I think that Democrats should forcefully defend" the Affordable Care Act, President Obama said at a press conference last week. “I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it. I think is a strong, good, right story to tell.” Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura on Obama's press conference here. (We think strategists in Louisiana and North Carolina and Arkansas probably have a slightly different take)

-- For years, Hillary Clinton and Boeing have fostered a mutually beneficial relationship. Rosalind Helderman detailed the international agreements Clinton has helped the company forge, and the millions in donations Boeing has made to causes close to Clinton's heart.

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- One more from last week: The League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council are joining forces to steer money to candidates who back their causes. Think of it as an environmental version of EMILY's List. They hope to raise and contribute $5 million this election cycle. (Washington Post)

-- Stock market futures are up slightly after the long weekend. Most overseas markets made gains Monday; the DAX was up nearly 1 percent, while the FTSE in London added 0.6 percent. (CNN)

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

-- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are among the 200 or so guests slated to attend Mitt Romney's third annual policy summit, according to a guest list obtained by The Washington Post. Peyton Manning will give a talk, and there's even room for a Democrat -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will be on hand. (Washington Post) Robert Costa takes you inside the Romney retreat here.

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

-- "Obama-Biden selfie stirs fresh controversy," a headline so ridiculous you just have to click it. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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

-- The IRS, the Forest Service, the Air Force and other federal agencies have awarded at least $415,000 in contracts to a license plate-tracking company before officials at the Department of Homeland Security nixed a plan to hire the firm. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson cancelled an immigration agency's plan to buy access to the firm's data amid privacy concerns. (Bloomberg)

-- An undocumented immigrant was arrested in California after registering to vote, and then showing up to cast ballots in 2008 and 2010, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) said Friday. The woman, Ortencia Segura, was deported in 2012 but caught after she re-entered the country. (Associated Press)

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- Tim Egan unloads on Cliven Bundy, who owes the federal government big bucks for grazing rights, and the media outlets that enable him: "Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson. … Hundreds of heavily armed, camouflaged supporters of the scofflaw turned out Saturday in Nevada, training their rifles on public employees who were trying to do their job. The outsiders looked like snipers ready to shoot the police. If you changed that picture to Black Panthers surrounding a lawful eviction in the inner city, do you think right-wing media would be there cheering the outlaws?" (New York Times)

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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Sean Sullivan · April 20