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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- The EPA will propose cutting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, the most aggressive move on climate change of President Obama's term. The draft rule will include four options for states and utilities to meet new standards. If implemented, the rule would cut 500 million metric tons of carbon annually once it's fully implemented. (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times)
-- Juliet Eilperin adds: The EPA estimates the new rules will cut pollutants like sulfur dioxide and soot by 25 percent and yield a public health benefit valued between $55 billion and $93 billion a year. The agency estimates the cost at $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion, a little under one-fifth of the Chamber of Commerce's estimate. Proof the rule isn't as tough as it might first appear: Thirteen states and D.C. have already cut emissions by 30 percent or more from 2005 levels.
-- Reid's Take: Democrats are going to frame climate change this year less in grand sweeping terms of stronger storms and rising seas and more in terms of children's health and drought in your back yard. President Obama kicked that effort off with a visit to a D.C. children's hospital on Friday (and holds a conference call with the American Lung Association today); that's also the tone California billionaire Tom Steyer's ads are going to take. Steyer advisor Chris Lehane said it best: "As much as I love polar bears and I love butterflies, we’re not going to be talking about them in these campaigns."
-- The rules will put pressure on energy state Democrats like Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Pryor (R-Ark.), along with Kentucky Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes. "Every American’s electricity bills will get more expensive, and we will force-feed those electric bills back to every Democratic candidate," said Brad Todd, a GOP strategist working for Pryor's opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R). (Washington Post)
-- Congressional Republicans are raising concerns that a prisoner swap that released U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban prisoners could have violated a U.S. law requiring Congress to be informed of such deals. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday he worried the swap had put U.S. troops at risk. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Sunday the White House had received "very specific assurances" from the government of Qatar before releasing the Taliban prisoners. (Washington Post)
-- An audit of the Department of Veterans Affairs found patient wait-times were manipulated at 64 percent of the 216 facilities reviewed, and that 13 percent of schedulers had been given specific instructions to misrepresent wait times. The audit found the 14-day goal for setting up new appointments, implemented by former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, wasn't attainable. (Politico)
-- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a unity government on Monday that includes officials from Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip. The ceremony at Abbas's West Bank headquarters was preceded by last-minute negotiations over the makeup of the Cabinet. (Associated Press)
Primary Primer: The races to watch this week.
-- Voters in eight states -- Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota -- head to the polls on Tuesday. Here's what you need to know in each state:
-- Alabama: Republicans will choose a nominee to replace retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) in the heavily GOP 6th district. Corporate executive Will Brooke (R), state Rep. Paul DeMarco (R) and former Alabama Policy Institute chief Gary Palmer (R) have spent the most on ads. The Club for Growth has endorsed Chad Mathis (R), a charter schools advocate and orthopedic surgeon.
-- California: Republicans are getting late-breaking good news in the race for governor (see below). Also on Tuesday, the parties will nominate candidates for open Secretary of State, Controller and state Treasurer posts. Republicans will choose among three candidates to challenge freshman Rep. Ami Bera (D) in the Sacramento-based 7th district. Democrats will choose one of two candidates to take on Rep. David Valadao (R) in Central California's 21st district. Former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) looks likely to take the lead in retiring Rep. Buck McKeon's 25th district. Both parties are crossing their fingers for favored candidates in Rep. Gary Miller's 31st district. And approximately 6,000 candidates are running to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D) in Hollywood.
-- Top MSNBC/Fox News topic for tomorrow: Sandra Fluke's fate in a Hollywood-area state Senate primary.
-- Iowa: State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) looks like the front-runner in the Republican Senate primary, with businessman Mark Jacobs (R) running a distant second (more on that below). A crowded Democratic field is vying to take Senate candidate/Rep. Bruce Braley's (D) seat in the 1st district, while Republicans are clamoring to take over for Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the Des Moines-based 3rd. Names to remember in that district: Secretary of State Matt Schultz, former Chuck Grassley Chief of Staff David Young, agriculture trade group chief Monte Shaw and state Sen. Brad Zaun. The winner will face former state Sen. Staci Appel (D) in a tight race in November.
-- Mississippi: Need we say more about the bizarre Thad Cochran/Chris McDaniel race? Also, don't forget former Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor is trying to mount a comeback against Rep. Steven Palazzo (R), this time as a Republican. He just misses Tune Inn.
-- Montana: State Sen. Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Sens. Corey Stapleton (R) and Ryan Zinke (R) are the front-runners for the Republican nomination for Congress on Tuesday. The winner will likely take on former Congressional staffer John Lewis (D) in November.
-- New Jersey: State Sen. Don Norcross (D) is likely to win the Democratic nod to take over for former Rep. Rob Andrews (D), who quit in February. Republicans will choose between former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) and former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur (R) in the 3rd district, where Rep. Jon Runyan (R) is retiring. (Democrats see this as a top pick-up opportunity, especially if Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard wins their primary, as expected). A handful of state legislators are battling it out for Rep. Rush Holt's (D) safely Democratic seat. (Remember when that district was a battleground?)
-- New Mexico: Attorney General Gary King (D), state Sen. Howie Morales (D) and former Albuquerque official Lawrence Rael (D) are fighting for the right to take on Gov. Susana Martinez (R) in November. King had a slight lead in the latest poll, but he's not lighting the world on fire. Martinez is a big-time front-runner.
-- South Dakota: Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) is likely to beat back several under-funded candidates for Sen. Tim Johnson's (D) Senate seat tomorrow. The only other contested race is for Secretary of State, where the state Senate Majority Whip is running against the deputy Secretary of State.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- California: Former TARP administrator Neel Kashkari (R) has pulled into second place just before the state's all-party primary on Tuesday. A new survey shows Gov. Jerry Brown (D) taking 50 percent, Kashkari with 13 percent and Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) taking 12 percent. Among likely voters, Kashkari leads Donnelly by 5, according to a new USC/L.A. Times poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. (USC) Reid's Take: Republican strategists had privately worried that nominating the anti-immigration Donnelly would have cost them House seats.
-- Iowa: State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) leads the Republican field with 36 percent of the vote, compared with just 18 percent for businessman Mark Jacobs (R), in a new Des Moines Register poll. Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (R) comes in third at 13 percent, with radio host Sam Clovis (R) finishing at 11 percent. Ernst needs 35 percent to avoid a convention nominating process. (Des Moines Register)
-- Mississippi: Wow, this race is close. Three robo-polls over the weekend, conducted by Harper Polling [pdf], PMI Inc. and Chism Strategies, all show Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) virtually tied, somewhere around the low-40s. That probably means a June 24 runoff, if no one scores a majority in Tuesday's primary. Realtor Tom Carey (R) is winning just enough of the vote to make a runoff possible.
-- Minnesota: at this weekend's party convention, giving him a clear shot at Sen. Al Franken (D) in November after his opponent dropped out. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) Accepting the Democratic nomination, Franken pledged this weekend to win by "more than last time," 312 votes. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
-- Alabama: We totally forgot that former Rep. Parker Griffith is a Democrat again, and that he's running against Gov. Robert Bentley (R) this year. We're sure the DGA is firing up ads as we type this. (AL.com)
-- Candidates in Alaska, Kansas and Wisconsin need to get their paperwork in order. Today is the filing deadline in all three states.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama joins a conference call hosted by the American Lung Association to highlight new EPA regulations. This evening, Obama leaves for Warsaw, Poland, for a G-7 meeting tomorrow. Vice President Biden is vacationing on Kiawah Island, S.C., through tomorrow.
-- The Senate returns today at 2 p.m. for morning business. At 5:30, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Keith Harper as the new representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Later this week, they take up their version of a fix to the Department of Veterans Affairs; committee chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has scheduled a hearing for Thursday. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) could introduce their own legislation as early as tomorrow. (Washington Post)
-- The House is out this week.
-- Press Secretary Prep: The 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests comes Wednesday. Get those statements ready.
-- Mayor Vincent Gray's top priority in his remaining seven months in office is to win approval for a $300 million soccer stadium for D.C. United in Buzzard Point in Southwest. The city council, though, is in no rush to approve the deal. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- North Carolina: The DSCC has reserved more than $4.4 million in broadcast airtime in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh between September 16 and Election Day. The NRSC has laid down almost $2.6 million between September 2 and October 13, enough to buy about 500 points a week in the Charlotte and Raleigh markets.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- It takes Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) an "awkward" 10 seconds to say whether he wants to be president some day. Pence spent time with the Indianapolis Star's editorial board answering questions over his plan to expand Medicaid without calling it Medicaid expansion. (Indianapolis Star)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- The fastest way to solve the VA crisis: Change incentive structures. The directors of regional medical centers received annual bonuses of between $9,000 and $15,000, spurring some to falsify records to meet incentive targets. (Washington Post)
-- Today's editor's note in FarmPolicy, an excellent ag-centric newsletter: "Due to the anticipated birth of our fifth child later today, FarmPolicy will not be published on Tuesday or Wednesday. Publication should resume on Thursday, June 5."
-- Stock markets are trading slightly higher this morning after the Dow closed at a record high on Friday. World markets are up; the Nikkei gained more than 2 percent today. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Which Senate races have attracted the most outside spending? North Carolina's number one. Would you believe Mississippi is number two? Outside groups have spent $7.8 million on the race, $5.1 million of which has been against Sen. Thad Cochran (R). The Club for Growth alone has spent $2.5 million. (Center for Responsive Politics)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Sriracha will still be manufactured in California after Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) office weighed in. (Washington Post) Foodies everywhere, rejoice!
-- We'll bring back Attn Matt Drudge and Attn HuffPo tomorrow. There's plenty for everyone to be outraged by above.