By Reid Wilson
A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Convicted murderer Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack Tuesday night, 43 minutes after a botched lethal injection. Reporters witnessing the execution said Lockett began thrashing around, and officials halted the execution before Lockett died. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued an immediate stay on a second execution, which was set to take place just two hours later. (Tulsa World, The Oklahoman) Backstory: States have experienced a shortage of lethal injection drugs after European drug manufacturers limited exports, forcing lawmakers to search for alternatives or rethink the death penalty altogether.
-- The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the EPA's authority to regulate smog from coal plants that drift across state lines. The 6-2 decision will require coal plant owners to install so-called "scrubber" technology to reduce pollution that floats downwind from Midwestern and Appalachian states to the Northeast. The EPA is likely to propose new Clean Air Act regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. (New York Times)
-- Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote as early as next week on the Keystone XL pipeline as part of a broader bill on energy efficiency offered by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. Reid said he was open to "anything" to move the Shaheen-Portman bill forward, whether a non-binding sense of the Senate resolution or a binding vote. (Politico)
-- The Big Picture: Outside interest groups have sponsored 59 percent of TV ads that have run in Senate races this cycle. In North Carolina, those groups have made up 90 percent of all advertising, according to a study released Tuesday by the Wesleyan Media Project. More than half of total spending has come from groups that don't reveal their donors, like Americans for Prosperity and Patriot Majority. (Washington Post)
-- House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that distrust of President Obama is preventing the House from taking up immigration reform, rather than an unwillingness from his own members. Boehner said he wasn't mocking fellow Republicans last week during comments to a Cincinnati-area business group. (Washington Post)
-- Boehner and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) spoke by phone Tuesday about a Senate-backed measure to extend long-term unemployment benefits. But Boehner told Heller the House would take up its own bill, which is said to include job creation measures, rather than the Senate bill. (Las Vegas Sun)
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with in-state tuition for Virginia "dreamers." NYT leads with prosecutors going after big banks and puts the Supreme Court's EPA decision up top. WSJ leads with that EPA ruling, while USA Today five-column fronts new Benghazi emails (see below). Wisconsin papers were all over a decision to strike down the state's voter ID laws (more below). Check out the Janesville Gazette, Appleton Post-Crescent and the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Wisconsin: U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman on Tuesday struck down Wisconsin's voter identification law, ruling it violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) said he would appeal to the 7th Circuit in Chicago, but separate challenges to the law are also being considered before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. (Milwaukee Jounral-Sentinel) Moment for conservative outrage: Adelman is a former Democratic state senator, nominated to his judgeship by Bill Clinton in 1997. Here's a rundown of the other voter ID cases facing challenges before various judges.
-- Ohio: Sleeper race alert: FreedomWorks has spent almost $68,000 against Rep. Dave Joyce (R), who faces state Rep. Matt Lynch (R) in next week's primary. About two weeks ago, the Chamber of Commerce fired back: They're running $200,000 in ads on Joyce's behalf on cable channels in the Cleveland market. Joyce, who took the seat when Rep. Steven LaTourette retired, can't move too far to the right: The district only gave Mitt Romney 50.9 percent of the vote in 2012.
-- Texas: State Sen. Wendy Davis's (D) campaign manager took after the DGA on Tuesday after chairman Peter Shumlin left Texas off the list of top Democratic targets. "My job is not to promote governors' races in states where we can't win," Shumlin said Tuesday. Davis manager Karin Johanson slammed "the uninformed opinions of a Washington, D.C., desk jockey who's never stepped foot in Texas," referring to an unnamed DGA staffer who prepared Shumlin's talking points. (Houston Chronicle) Hard truth: Texas has never been in the DGA's top tier.
-- Florida: Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leads Gov. Rick Scott (R) by a 48 percent to 38 percent margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll of 1,413 registered voters. Crist and Scott are statistically tied among men, but Crist wins women by 18 points, the poll shows. Scott's favorable ratings are a weak 39 percent, but Crist's 43 percent favorable rating isn't that much better. (Quinnipiac)
-- More Florida: In new court filings, Rep. Alan Grayson (D) accuses his wife of bigamy, alleging she was already married in 1990 when the couple wed. Grayson is seeking an annulment and is suing for defamation after his wife, Lolita, accused him of battering her at the couple's home in March. Grayson submitted documents apparently showing his wife got divorced from her first husband almost four years after they were married. (Orlando Sentinel)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama is back in D.C. after a week overseas. He delivers remarks today on the importance of raising the minimum wage at an appearance in the East Room at 3:10 p.m. Vice President Biden will deliver remarks at the Atlantic Council's tribute to NATO and the EU at 12:15.
-- The House meets at 10 a.m. for morning business. First votes are expected at 1:30 p.m. after debate begins on the MilCon appropriations bill. The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. for morning business, followed by a show vote on invoking cloture on a measure that would raise the minimum wage. This afternoon, the Senate will vote on six District Court judges from Tennessee, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, Maine and D.C.
-- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) on Tuesday he should resign a month after getting caught smooching a staffer on video. McAllister said he wouldn't quit. Cantor aides said the majority leader will meet with Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday, though he won't ask Grimm to step aside. (Washington Post, Politico) Probably not the best day to drop by and say hi to Cantor. He's probably not in a great mood.
-- Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will testify today at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the influence of undisclosed money in federal elections chaired by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). FEC Vice Chair Ann Ravel, former FEC members Don McGahn and Trevor Potter and AEI scholar Norm Ornstein will also testify. We've asked one of the other witnesses to take a selfie with Stevens; we'll see if he comes through.
-- Keep that umbrella handy: There's a flash flood watch in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday. Heavy rain and even a thunder clap or two comes rolling our way this afternoon, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where
-- Chamber of Commerce: Yesterday, we told you the Chamber was dropping big bucks in five Senate races and one House primary. Today, we know most of the buy sizes: Over the next week, the Chamber will spend $764,000 on broadcast and cable ads in the North Carolina Senate race; $30,000 in Alaska's Senate contest; $290,000 in Michigan; and $150,000 in Montana. Still waiting on the Georgia ad buy.
-- Nebraska: With two weeks to go before the primary, a new internal poll conducted for former Bush administration official Ben Sasse shows him leading state Treasurer Shane Osborn and bank president Sid Dinsdale. Over the last fortnight, Sasse will spend almost $200,000 on ads. Osborn has about $120,000 booked, and Dinsdale is spending $80,000. The Club for Growth is adding to Sasse's advantage with about $90,000 in broadcast and cable time.
-- Louisiana: Patriot Majority, the Democratic dark money group, will spend more than $300,000 between May 1-14 on behalf of Sen. Mary Landrieu. Republican group Freedom Partners came off the air on Tuesday and hasn't purchased new ads for this week.
-- North Carolina: Senate Majority PAC is back with more ads for Sen. Kay Hagan (D). The group is spending about $230,000 on broadcast and cable beginning today and running through May 6. Measure of how expensive this race is going to be: The Chamber is getting about 950 points in Charlotte for almost $250,000 this week. Senate Majority PAC is paying $51,000 for 200 points. That's pretty expensive, even for Charlotte.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- "Beyond 'Captain America' [which draws inspiration from drone strikes ordered by President Obama], a virtual arts festival of films, books, plays, comics, television shows and paintings have been using as their underlying narratives the sometimes grim reality of Mr. Obama’s presidency."
-- "The commando raid that Mr. Obama ordered to kill Osama bin Laden is the basis for the actions of the fictional President Ogden in the Godzilla comic books. Several episodes of CBS’s 'The Good Wife' feature mysterious wiretaps of the main characters by the National Security Agency. Artists in California are protesting drones by sculpturing a Predator out of mud. In New York, playwrights are exploring disappointment in the pace of societal change in Mr. Obama’s America." (New York Times)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- A division of the Department of Homeland Security has suggested that people use browsers other than Internet Explorer as Microsoft works to fix security vulnerabilities that hackers are exploiting. The Computer Emergency Readiness Team said IT administrators should implement workarounds as Microsoft works to fix the problem. (Seattle Times)
-- The Commerce Department on Wednesday is likely to say economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent during the first quarter of the year, thanks in large part to the severe winter. Economists expect stronger growth, to around 3 percent, throughout the rest of the year. (Associated Press)
-- Stock futures are down slightly in premarket trading after all three major indices made gains on Tuesday. Pepco stock is up more than 17 percent after it agreed to be sold to Chicago-based Exelon. European markets are up a tiny fraction, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped more than a percent overnight. (CNN, Washington Post)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- There's no budget to build the EA-18G Growler, a Boeing-made fighter jet, but it's not dead yet: Company officials are lobbying members of Congress to come up with $2.1 billion to buy 22 airplanes for the Navy, which includes the radar-jamming planes on its "unfunded priorities list," an inventory of items the Pentagon wants to buy if it had the money to spend.
-- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates mostly banned the lists, which had allowed the services to bypass the Secretary's office and go straight to Congress. But they're back, tempting members who are otherwise restricted by the $496 billion post-sequester budget cap. (Washington Post)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby (R) is no stranger to controversy. In the 1990s, Wehby began advocating a surgery that would help incontinent children suffering from "tethered cord syndrome," which can cause nervous-system issues. The reaction to Wehby's suggestion back then: "She must be smoking pot or something down in Oregon," one pediatric surgeon recalls. But Wehby's techniques are far less controversial now. (The Oregonian)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- New emails released to Judicial Watch show deputy White House National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes highlighted the anti-Islam web video in an email strategizing over a conference call to prepare Susan Rice for Sunday shows after the attacks on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi. One of the goals of Rice's appearance was "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy." (Fox News)
-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the email is the "smoking gun" that demonstrates the White House was trying to change the story on Benghazi. (USA Today)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- A Kansas state House committee voted this week to remove a $600,000 subsidy for public broadcasting, putting several rural radio networks in jeopardy. The state has already cut the subsidy to public broadcasters from $3.8 million in 2008 to $600,000 last year; a budget passed by the committee this week doesn't include that money for next year. (Kansas City Star)