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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Israel targeted homes of top Hamas political leaders with air strikes and urged Palestinians to evacuate border areas on Wednesday as fighting intensified after a cease-fire deal fell through. Hamas fired rockets as far north as Tel Aviv. Israeli military intelligence thinks up to half of Hamas's rocket stores have been destroyed in the past 8 days. (Washington Post)
-- The White House today will announce a series of initiatives to protect supplies of electricity, improve local planning for flooding and coastal erosion and predict landslides amid rising oceans and stronger storms as the climate changes. The Department of Agriculture will award $236 million in grants to improve electricity infrastructure in rural areas in eight states. (New York Times)
-- House Democrats will unveil a list of election-year proposals today aimed at motivating women, blue-collar workers and young voters ahead of the tough midterm elections. The "100 Day Action Plan" is part of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's goal of picking up 25 seats for November, a hefty lift even in good political conditions. The agenda includes raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay and improving the Violence Against Women Act, among other planks. (Washington Post)
-- The Justice Department will intervene in court challenges to laws that restrict voting in Ohio and Wisconsin, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday. A federal judge has already ruled Wisconsin's 2012 voter identification law was unconstitutional, though the state is appealing that ruling. The law in Ohio eliminated a week of early voting, when voters could register and cast a ballot on the same day; the ACLU is challenging that law. Holder did not elaborate on how or when DoJ will intervene. (Reuters)
-- Former think tank president Gary Palmer (R) defeated state Rep. Paul DeMarco (R) by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin in a runoff for the right to replace retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). DeMarco's campaign spent more, but Palmer had big backing from the Club for Growth and other outside groups. (Birmingham News) Baptist minister Mark Walker (R) won 60 percent of the vote to beat out Rockingham County prosecutor Phil Berger Jr. (R) in a runoff for retiring Rep. Howard Coble's (R-N.C.) seat. (Charlotte Observer) Both runoff winners are heavily favored in deep red districts in November.
-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with fears of a wider war in Gaza after cease-fire talks ended. NYT fronts documents showing General Motors kept silent as the number of fatal crashes rose. WSJ leads with Fed chair Janet Yellen's testimony before Congress on Tuesday. USA Today looks at safety precautions, or lack thereof, at government medical labs. And the Houston Chronicle spotlights Texas Medicaid rolls, up 1.8 percent since last summer.
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will sit down with Lanhee Chen, Mitt Romney's former policy director, for a tutorial on health care policy. Perry has sat down in recent months with GOP thinkers including Eliot Cohen, Bob Joseph and Elliott Abrams as he gears up for a possible second bid. Chen has also met with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in recent months. (Real Clear Politics) Christie is headed to Iowa tomorrow for a three-city fundraising swing designed to show off his ability to interact with voters. (New York Times)
-- Florida: Legislative leaders said Tuesday they will not appeal a judge's ruling that the state's congressional maps are invalid, as long as they can wait until after the 2014 election to redraw the two offending districts. The state House Speaker and Senate president asked Judge Terry Lewis to clarify whether the legislature can wait until after November to redraw districts held by Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and Dan Webster (R). (Miami Herald)
-- Illinois: A bipartisan Legislative Audit Committee meets today to decide whether to call witnesses to testify about an anti-violence program started by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in 2010 after a state audit found funds were misused. Federal and Cook County prosecutors are also looking into the fund, which Quinn rivals have said amounted to a political slush fund to turn out votes in heavily Democratic Chicago. Prosecutors have asked the commission to hold off on subpoenas of Quinn administration officials as they investigate. (Associated Press) Reid's Take: If this touches Quinn himself, it's nail-in-the-coffin time. His image as a reformer is the one thing he's always been able to hang his hat on. Without that image, it's lights out.
-- Louisiana: Blasted FOIA laws. Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) administration wasn't just quietly supporting Common Core, but actively advocating for a state law that made implementation easier. Stafford Palmieri, Jindal's top policy advisor, told the state Department of Education in emails released under FOIA laws that the governor would stand behind any Common Core supporters who started taking political heat. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
-- New Jersey: Sen. Robert Menendez (D) has spent about $700,000 on attorneys amid ongoing Justice Department and ethics committee investigations, including $258,000 through a legal defense fund and more than $400,000 from his campaign fund. The investigations are looking into whether Menendez did political favors for a Florida eye doctor who is also a major campaign donor. (Newark Star-Ledger)
Poll-a-Palooza: Thanks, NBC/Marist!
-- Colorado: A new NBC/Marist poll shows Sen. Mark Udall (D) leading Rep. Cory Gardner (R) by a 48 percent to 41 percent margin, and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) besting former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) by a 49 percent to 43 percent edge. Hickenlooper still has a 51 percent favorable rating and a 54 percent job approval number, while Udall's is a more anemic 42 percent favorable, 36 percent unfavorable. Obama's approval rating: 40 percent. (NBC, pdf)
-- Michigan: Rep. Gary Peters (D) leads former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) 43 percent to 37 percent in the battle for an open Senate seat. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) maintains a 46 percent to 44 percent lead over former Rep. Mark Schauer (D) in the governor's race. President Obama's approval rating is at just 40 percent, compared with a 49 percent approval rating for Snyder. (NBC, pdf) Another poll conducted by Denno Research showed Snyder leading Schauer 43 percent to 35 percent, and Peters leading Land 40 percent to 37 percent. (Detroit News)
-- Iowa: Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) are tied at 43 percent apiece, a new NBC News/Marist poll finds. Both candidates have fav/unfavs in the mid-30s, and both have net-positive ratings. Just 37 percent of Iowa voters approve of President Obama's job performance. Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is cruising to re-election; he leads state Sen. Jack Hatch (D) 53 percent to 38 percent. (NBC)
-- Massachusetts: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads former Sen. Scott Brown (R) by a 50 percent to 42 percent margin in another NBC News/Marist poll. Shaheen's fav/unfav numbers are positive, while about an equal number have favorable or unfavorable feelings about Brown. Obama's approval rating stands at just 39 percent in the Granite State, though Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) has a strong 54 percent approval rating. (NBC)
-- Washington: About 70 percent of voters say they favor Initiative 594, which would require background checks on all firearms sales in the state. A competing initiative, I-591, which would prevent background check laws stricter than federal laws, has support from 46 percent of voters. Support for that measure, backed by gun rights advocates, has fallen from 55 percent back in April. (Seattle Times)
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama meets with state, local and tribal leaders on climate change, where he will list actions the administration is taking to help communities prepare. This afternoon, Obama meets with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on the crisis at the border. Tonight, Obama hosts House Democrats at the White House.
-- Vice President Biden addresses Generation Progress's 2014 Make Progress National Summit at the Marriott today. Biden will join Obama in meetings with the Hispanic Caucus and House Democrats.
-- The House takes final votes on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations measure today, dispatching ten amendments before final passage, which is expected to come between 2:30 and 4:30 this afternoon.
-- The Senate meets this morning to vote on cloture for Ronnie White, nominated to fill a U.S. District Court seat in Eastern Missouri. After the confirmation vote, the Senate will debate the Democratic response to the Hobby Lobby decision; a cloture vote is expected at 2:10 p.m.
-- Secretary of State John Kerry is back in Washington. He meets with Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn at the State Department this morning.
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- North Carolina: The League of Conservation Voters is back with another big buy, this one a $710,000 assault on U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R). The ads will run July 11 through July 24 on broadcast and cable television in four markets. Crossroads GPS is going up with a $670,000 flight beginning on July 22, and Senate Majority PAC is in the middle of a $330,000 buy this week.
FEC Updates: Your one-stop look at Senate candidate fundraising in the second quarter
-- Alaska: Sen. Mark Begich (D) raised $1.3 million and has $2.2 million on hand. We haven't seen reports from former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) yet. (Alaska Dispatch News)
-- Arkansas: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) brought in $1.5 million and has $4.1 million in the bank. Rep. Tom Cotton (R) raised $2.28 million in the last quarter, though he hasn't said how much he had on hand. (The Hill)
-- Colorado: Sen. Mark Udall (D) raised $3.1 million last quarter and kept $5.7 million on hand. Rep. Cory Gardner (R) pulled in $2.7 million and had $3.4 million left on hand. (Associated Press)
-- Georgia: Philanthropist and businesswoman Michelle Nunn (D) raised $3.45 million last quarter, though her campaign didn't say how much it had left over. Rep. Jack Kingston (R) raised $1.6 million, while businessman David Perdue (R) pulled in $974,000 in advance of next week's runoff. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press)
-- Hawaii: Sen. Brian Schatz (D) raised $820,000 in the second quarter, while Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) pulled in $702,000, including a $117,000 loan from her own checkbook. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, HawaiiNewsNow)
-- Iowa: Still waiting on campaign finance reports from Rep. Bruce Braley (D) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R).
-- Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) pulled in $3.1 million during the second quarter, his best quarter ever. He had $9.8 million in the bank as of July 1. But Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) raised $4 million in the quarter and ended with $6.2 million on hand. (Louisville Courier-Journal, Associated Press)
-- Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) pulled in $2.1 million from April through June, ending with $6.2 million in the bank. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) pulled in $1.6 million; he's got $5.8 million left over. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
-- Michigan: Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) pulled in $3.35 million last quarter, including $1.2 million she gave her own campaign. Rep. Gary Peters (D) pulled in almost $6.8 million. Neither candidate said how much they have on hand. (MLive)
-- Minnesota: Sen. Al Franken (D) pulled in $3.3 million last quarter and had $5 million on hand at the beginning of the month. Businessman Mike McFadden (R), who still has to get through a primary, raised $1.1 million and kept $2 million on hand. (Washington Post)
-- Montana: Sen. John Walsh (D) pulled in $1.25 million and had $713,000 in the bank at the start of the quarter, his campaign said. Rep. Steve Daines (R) pulled in $1.4 million and had $1.7 million in the bank. (Associated Press)
-- New Hampshire: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) raised $2.8 million last quarter and ended June with $5.1 million in the bank. Former Sen. Scott Brown (R) pulled in more than $2 million, but didn't release cash on hand numbers. (Boston Globe)
-- North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) raised $3.6 million over the last three months and ended with more than $8.7 million on the bank. State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) hasn't released fundraising numbers yet, though they won't be as impressive after he spent a lot to win his primary last quarter. (Washington Post)
-- Oregon: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) raised $1.8 million last quarter and has $3.5 million left over. Physician Monica Wehby (R) has yet to report her totals, but she too had to spend big to win her May 20 primary. (Oregonian)
-- Virginia: Sen. Mark Warner (D) pulled in $2.7 million over the last quarter, with a whopping $8.9 million in the bank. Former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie (R) took in $1.9 million, with $3.1 million on hand at the end of the quarter. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
-- West Virginia: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) pulled in $1.3 million and has almost $5 million left in the bank. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (R) raised $777,000 in the last quarter and maintains a bank balance of about $1.5 million. (Charleston Daily Mail)
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) raised and spent more than $6 million in the 2013-2014 cycle, including $760,000 between May 22 and June 30, according to FEC reports covering his June 10 primary loss to Randolph Macon College Professor Dave Brat (R). Cantor had $1.45 million on hand at the end of the second quarter. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- The foundation overseeing development of President Obama's forthcoming library has raised more than $850,000, according to new public filings. Much of the money comes from Michael Sacks, a major donor to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management; Sacks and his wife donated between $250,001 and $500,000 to the foundation. The foundation said last month it had receive 13 bids to host the Obama museum, including one from Columbia University, one from the University of Hawaii and five from sites around Chicago. (Chicago Tribune)
-- Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox made an $80 billion takeover bid for Time Warner in recent weeks, though the offer was rebuffed. As part of the bid, Fox proposed to sell CNN to avoid any antitrust concerns with Fox News. Fox first approached Time Warner in early June. (New York Times)
-- Stock futures are higher this morning after a pretty flat day on Wall Street yesterday. Time Warner stock is up 15 percent (!) on the Murdoch takeover bid. Most international markets traded higher on Wednesday; European markets were up more than 1 percent. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Former Rep. Robert Roe (D-N.J.), who helped shape transportation bills in the 1980s and 1990s during his 11 full terms in Congress, died Tuesday at his home in Green Pond, N.J. He was 90. Roe chaired Congressional hearings on the Challenger disaster in 1986, and eventually served as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. (New York Times)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Portraits of lawmakers hung in the Pennsylvania State Capitol will include more than just when a member served and what committees he or she chaired; they'll also include the lawmaker's criminal history, if applicable. The deal is a compromise with members who wanted portraits of criminals removed entirely. Four former state House speakers will get plaques with new information, including Bill DeWeese (D), released from prison in 2014 after serving time for misusing public funds; Herbert Fineman (D), convicted of obstructing justice in 1977; John Perzel (R), also newly released after a corruption conviction; and former Senate President pro tem Robert Mellow (D), who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit tax fraud in 2012. (Reuters) Insult, meet injury.
-- Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) used a drone to shoot video of his wedding when he got married in June. What a nice idea, except that commercial use of drones is prohibited by the FAA. Maloney sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure's Aviation Subcommittee. (New York Daily News)
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- An FEC official who once worked for Lois Lerner in the agency's general counsel's office fired off a list of pro-Obama tweets during the 2012 election, pledging to donate to the campaign on Obama's birthday and questioning "how anyone but straight white men can vote Republican." The official, April Sands, has reached agreement with the FEC Inspector General to avoid criminal charges while admitting to violating the Hatch Act. (Townhall)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R), running against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), protested Tuesday at a site where immigrant children were being sheltered after moving from the Texas border. He tweeted a photo of what he said was a bus full of migrant children. Only problem: The bus was full of kids headed from the Marana School District to the YMCA's Triangle Y Camp. Kwasman later deleted the tweet. (Arizona Republic)
-- How can Republicans attract women voters? Talk down to them, of course. "Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level," Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) said at a recent RSC event. "[W]e need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life -- that's the way to go." (Washington Examiner)