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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) look likely to head to a June 24 runoff after neither candidate mustered a majority in Tuesday's primary elections. With 99.5 percent of precincts reporting, McDaniel led Cochran by 2,000 votes, a margin of 49.6 percent to 48.9 percent. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger) More primary election results in our National Roundup, below.
-- The Obama administration has approached Cleveland Clinic chief executive Delos "Toby" Cosgrove about heading the Department of Veterans Affairs. Cosgrove is a doctor and Vietnam War veteran. (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)
-- The White House overrode an existing interagency process on transferring Guantanamo detainees and dismissed Pentagon and intelligence community concerns over releasing five Taliban prisoners in getting Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released from captivity. (Time) Senior Pentagon officials on Tuesday began detailing the early investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's initial disappearance in 2009, when he left a note at his tent saying he was disillusioned with the Army and no longer supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Critics say the search for Bergdahl led to the deaths of at least two and as many as eight soldiers. (New York Times)
-- Pakistan did not help find Bergdahl, despite repeated U.S. requests for assistance. (Washington Post) The Taliban on Wednesday released video showing Bergdahl's handover to U.S. troops. (Wall Street Journal) Qatar is allowing five Taliban prisoners released in exchange for Bergdahl move freely about the small Gulf country. They are living with their families after arriving in the country over the weekend. (Reuters)
-- President Obama's deputy National Security Advisor on Monday apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to alert her in advance of a prisoner swap that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (The Hill) GOP strategist Richard Grenell has been helping former members of Bergdahl's platoon reach out to the media. (BuzzFeed) House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday he supports hearings on the swap and why Congress wasn't informed. (Roll Call)
-- The RNC's site selection committee wrapped up a visit to Cleveland on Tuesday and lands today in Kansas City, the first two stops on a four-stop tour of possible 2016 convention sites. The committee visits Dallas and Denver, the other two finalists, next week. Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manzel pitched RNC members on his city. (Kansas City Star, Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- California: Former TARP administrator Neel Kashkari (R) scored 19 percent of the vote to secure the second spot in November's top-two runoff over Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R). Kashkari will face Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who took 54 percent of the vote on Tuesday and remains the odds-on favorite in the fall. (Los Angeles Times) This is a big win for the GOP; a Donnelly win could have cost them several House seats. Kashkari will lose, but he'll do it gracefully.
-- More California: Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (D) led the field seeking an L.A. County Supervisor position with 70 percent of the vote. Rep. Ami Bera (D) will face former Rep. Doug Ose (R) in November after Ose outlasted two other Republican candidates. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D) took 59 percent in the race to replace retiring Rep. George Miller (D). Rep. Mike Honda (D) took almost 49 percent of the vote against tech entrepreneur Ro Khanna's (D) 27 percent; the two will meet in November. The DCCC's preferred candidate Amanda Renteria (D) made it through her primary; she'll face Rep. David Valadao, who took 64 percent, in the fall. Attorney Elan Carr (R) and state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) finished first and second in the crowded race to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D) in the Santa Monica-based 33rd district; Wendy Greuel finished third. Attorney Sandra Fluke (D) finished second in her primary for a state Senate seat (being vacated by Lieu); she'll face fellow Democrat Ben Allen in the fall.
-- Iowa: State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) easily outpaced the Republican field to take 56 percent as support for businessman Mark Jacobs (R) collapsed and radio host Sam Clovis (R) finished second. Former state Sen. Brad Zaun (R) led the GOP field in the open 3rd district; he's not the GOP's best candidate to take on former colleague Staci Appel (D) in November in this swing district. (Des Moines Register)
-- Mississippi: Rep. Steven Palazzo (R) narrowly outlasted former Rep. Gene Taylor (D-then-R) by a 50.5 percent to 43 percent margin. Three other Republicans split the remainder. (Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
-- The Rest: Montana Sen. John Walsh (D) and Rep. Steve Daines (R) easily won their Senate primaries on Tuesday. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) will face political consultant Jeff Bell (R) in November. New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D) will face former state Republican Party chairman Allen Weh (R). Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) took 55 percent against four lesser known candidates to win the Republican Senate nomination. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) easily won renomination. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) will face Attorney General Gary King (D) in November after King won the Democratic primary with 34 percent of the vote. (Washington Post)
-- Kentucky: "Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years. Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve. It’s clear you have no idea how this affects Kentucky." Mitch McConnell's latest ad? Nope, it's a new radio spot from Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes, airing in coal country beginning today.
-- Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) hailed a nine-bill package that would help Detroit exit bankruptcy by providing almost $195 million to the city's ailing pension system after the state Senate passed the measure Tuesday. Philanthropic groups pledged another $466 million to protect the city's art collection from sale. (MLive)
-- New Jersey: Rough crowd: Bogota Mayor Tito Jackson Jr. (D) cast his ballot on Tuesday, walked out to his car and got punched in the face by the father of a candidate running against Jackson's slate. But it wasn't all bad news: Jackson won, 455 votes to 316. (PolitickerNJ, Bergen Record)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama met this morning with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw before celebrating Freedom Day at the royal castle, where he addressed 6,000 to 8,000 people. Obama travels to Brussels later this morning -- afternoon, in Europe -- to begin G7 meetings.
-- Vice President Biden delivers remarks this afternoon on workforce development at a Third Way event at the Ronald Reagan Building. This evening, Biden hosts Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders at the Naval Observatory.
-- First Lady Michelle Obama will kick off a Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness at the White House, alongside HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson. This afternoon, she attends a DNC fundraiser in D.C.
-- The Senate will vote to confirm judicial nominees from Massachusetts, South Carolina and D.C. today. They will vote on cloture, and then begin debate, on Sylvia Mathews Burwell's nomination to head HHS.
-- Stop complaining, D.C.'s traffic isn't that bad. At least not compared to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Seattle, San Jose, New York and Miami. That's according to a new study from Texas A&M's Transportation Institute, which found D.C. drivers spent 73 hours trapped in traffic last year. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Michigan: The DSCC began reserving last-minute airtime on Tuesday on behalf of Rep. Gary Peters (D), who's locked in a tight race with former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R). They've reserved almost $1.2 million for ads set to run during the last five weeks before Election Day in the Flint and Grand Rapids markets. No Detroit buys yet. Americans for Prosperity is in the middle of a $355,000 statewide ad buy; they've spent $3.7 million on the race so far.
-- Arkansas: The state Democratic Party is running $425,000 in cable and broadcast advertising on behalf of Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in the Jonesboro, Little Rock and Fort Smith markets today through June 17. That's worth between 1,400 and 1,800 gross ratings points per market, and we're betting a transfer from the DSCC shows up in the state party's next FEC report.
-- Florida: The Libre Initiative, the Koch brothers-connected group targeting Hispanic voters, goes back on air on Miami cable channels on Wednesday with $235,000 in new ads in Florida's 26th district. The group spent about $42,000 on ads in February; Republicans want Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo (R) to make it through the August primary to take on Rep. Joe Garcia (D).
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- "Cochran didn't pose for any pictures during his brief sweep. As he made his way toward the exit, the senator held out his hand to me. I had met and interviewed him less than half an hour before. 'Hello, how are you doing?' he said with a kindly smile. 'I'm Thad Cochran.'" The Atlantic's Molly Ball takes a look at Cochran's last stand, which just got three weeks longer.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Tuesday she wants an investigation into counternarcotics contracts after a Pentagon review found Northrop Grumman charged the government $100 million in "questionable" costs in connection to efforts to fight drug operations in Afghanistan. The charges include one employee who billed the government for 1,208 hours worked over a 12-day period. (Washington Post)
-- A plurality of Americans, 48 percent, say the NBA should not require Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, while 45 percent say they should give him the boot. Check out the full crosstabs in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll.
-- Markets are down in early-hours trading after all three U.S. indices dipped slightly on Tuesday. The Nikkei rose Wednesday, but most world markets are down. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- What's with all the Southern runoffs? They're a relic of a bygone era when Democrats dominated Southern politics. In most states, runoffs helped sideline black voters and heal divisions within the white-dominated Democratic Party. In Arkansas, legislators created a runoff in the 1930s to make sure the KKK couldn't win primary elections. More on the history of runoffs from yours truly at The Washington Post.
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Old and busted: Ugly, snaking, twisting Congressional districts in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina. New hotness: Beautifully compact, computer-generated districts. Massachusetts software engineer Brian Olson wrote a program to draw optimally compact legislative districts; check out his work at Wonk Blog.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- The Justice Department is reviving a unit dedicated to investigating domestic terrorists after hate crimes at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City in April and elsewhere. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. remains concerned about threats from Islamic extremists, but that the DOJ unit will focus on other motives for attacks within the U.S. (Reuters)
-- More than half of Americans, 51 percent, say they support an additional Congressional investigation into the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Fully 58 percent say the Obama administration is trying to cover up facts. (Washington Post) Evidence that a majority's first instinct is now to distrust the White House?
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- A 92-year old Huntsville woman who has lived in the same house for 57 years was turned away from the polls Tuesday because her driver's license had expired nine months before. The woman had decided not to renew the license because her eyesight was failing and she decided she would stop driving. (Huntsville Times) A 93-year old African American man in Escambia County was denied a ballot after he showed up without an ID; the man was even refused a provisional ballot, which will probably get someone fired. (MSNBC)
-- Researchers at the University of Southern California found state legislators were much more likely to respond to emails seeking advice on voter identification laws from someone named Jacob Smith than they were from someone named Santiago Rodriguez. The gap between those who responded to Smith and Rodriguez was much more pronounced among those legislators who backed voter identification laws than among those who didn't. (Washington Post)