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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- The Obama administration has ruled out the possibility of coordinating U.S. airstrikes with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, though the White House said President Obama had made no decision on whether to conduct the airstrikes. (Washington Post) But Obama is nearing a decision to aid Turkmen minorities in the town of Amerli, which is under siege by ISIS militants. The U.S. is pushing Australia, Britain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE to increase support for moderate rebels in Syria. (New York Times)
-- The administration is working to forge agreement on a broad climate change agreement that would cut fossil fuel emissions without requiring ratification from Congress. The agreement would be signed at a 2015 U.N. summit meeting in Paris. The agreement would "name and shame" countries that didn't go along with the agreement. The administration recognizes that getting two-thirds in the Senate just isn't going to happen right now. (New York Times)
-- An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is holding after going into effect on Tuesday. A U.N. field reporting team arrived in Gaza, estimating the Strip's economic losses at $4.2 billion in the seven weeks since fighting began. Hamas declared victory, but the peace deal goes only as far as a 2012 agreement that ended the last outbreak of violence. Relief aid and construction materials will be allowed into Gaza, and fishermen can venture up to six miles offshore, twice the distance they were allowed to travel. (Washington Post)
-- Campaign spending on about 125 ballot measures in 41 states is likely to top $1 billion for the first time this year. Democrats are increasingly using initiatives to drive turnout, as with minimum wage measures in Arkansas and Alaska and a medical marijuana initiative in Florida. Republicans tried the same thing in 2004 with same-sex marriage bans in nearly a dozen states. In a close election, the calculus goes, every extra vote counts.
-- Corporations and special interests, too, are increasingly turning to the ballot box to improve their bottom lines. Casino measures in several states will draw millions in spending. A pair of measures relating to medical malpractice in California are expected to cost upwards of $100 million, and GMO labeling initiatives in Oregon and Colorado will draw tens of millions more. (Washington Post)
-- IMF chief Christine Lagarde has been placed under official investigation for negligence in a corruption probe stemming from her tenure as France's finance minister. Lagarde has been questioned four times by magistrates. The case involves a $531 million payment to a businessman in arbitration with Credit Lyonnais, a state-owned bank, over the sale of Adidas. (Associated Press)
-- Front Pages: WaPo: "Gaza rejoices over cease-fire deal with Israel." WSJ, five-column banner: "Israel, Hamas Agree to New Cease-Fire." NYT: "U.S. Mobilizing Allies to Widen Mideast Strikes." USA Today: "U.S. Spy Planes Fly Over Syria." Bonus photo: Check out the Putin death stare as Russia's president meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Arizona Republic: "Ducey Vs. DuVal." Naples Daily News: "Bring it on: Scott vs. Crist."
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- Arizona: State Treasurer and former Coldstone Ice Cream executive Doug Ducey (R) won the Republican nomination for governor by a 15-point margin over his closest rival. (Arizona Republic) He'll face state university regent Fred DuVal (D) in November. The race for the right to run against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) is too close to call; state House Speaker Andy Tobin (R) leads rancher Gary Kiehne (R) by just 300 votes out of about 45,000 cast. And state Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) is headed to Congress after winning the Democratic primary in the 7th District, where Rep. Ed Pastor (D) is retiring. Gallego took 48 percent to former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox's (D) 37 percent. No Republican filed in the race.
-- Florida: Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) easily won the Democratic primary for governor, beating former state Sen. Nan Rich (D) by a 3-to-1 margin. He faces Gov. Rick Scott (R) in November. (Miami Herald) Former state Rep. Carl Domino (R) won the right to take on Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) in the 18th District, and Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo (R) took 47 percent of the vote over a crowded field in the 26th District, winning the Republican nomination against Rep. Joe Garcia (D) in November. Curbelo is one of the GOP recruits the NRCC is most excited about.
-- Vermont and Oklahoma: Not often these two states get grouped together, but they held elections on Tuesday as well. Travel agency owner Scott Milne (R) won the right to take on Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) in November; he's a heavy underdog. And in Oklahoma, former state Sen. Steve Russell (R) won a runoff election over Corporations Commissioner Patrice Douglas (R) by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin. He'll face state Sen. Al McAffrey (D), who narrowly won his own runoff on Tuesday, in the race to succeed Rep. James Lankford (R) in the 5th District.
-- Arkansas: Vote for my rival, get Ebola! Well, almost: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is out with a new ad criticizing Rep. Tom Cotton (R) for voting against a measure that would have funded preparations for pandemics like Ebola, and for voting against pediatrician training at a children's hospital. University of Arkansas political scientist Janine Parry called the spot "almost cartoonish." (Associated Press) Maybe Pryor should stick to the pro-Obamacare ads: Gov. Mike Beebe's (D) office said Tuesday that policies sold through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace will see a 2 percent net decrease in premium costs next year. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
-- Maryland: The Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General's office has issued subpoenas in connection with a probe into Maryland's faulty health care exchange, Rep. Andy Harris (R) said Tuesday. Harris said his office learned that subpoenas were issued in July. A spokesman for the state health exchange said it had not received a subpoena. Maryland expects to spend up to $261 million on its exchange by next year. (Baltimore Sun, Washington Post)
-- Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) plans to file suit today against the Obama administration for allegedly illegally manipulating federal grant money to force states to adopt Common Core standards. The Education Department has used a $4.3 billion grant program to encourage states to adopt the new method. Jindal's lawsuit says that violates state sovereignty. (Associated Press) Who wants to bet a nickel that lawsuit is in his next stump speech in Iowa or South Carolina?
-- Maine: The calvary is coming for Rep. Mike Michaud (D), the Democratic nominee for governor. Environmentalist Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate is looking for field organizers in Maine, though the group hasn't advertised on Michaud's behalf yet. (Portland Press Herald) And Bill Clinton is coming to rally with Michaud next Tuesday in Portland. The Michaud camp said the 750 tickets to the rally with Clinton were snapped up in 3 hours. (Portland Press Herald)
-- New York: We usually steer clear of the op-ed page, but today's New York Times take on the Democratic gubernatorial primary is brutal: "The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9. ... Having walked away from his most important goals, he should not be surprised if many Democrats walk away from him on Sept. 9." Ouch.
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama is back at the White House today, where he meets this morning with members of the economic team in the Roosevelt Room. Obama spends the rest of the day in other private meetings.
-- Vice President Biden joins the Roosevelt Room meeting this morning. This afternoon, he'll head to the National Counterterrorism Center for a visit. For some unexplained reason, that visit is closed press.
-- D.C. city council member Muriel Bowser (D) said she would undo new school boundary lines implemented by Mayor Vince Gray (D) if she is elected to replace him in November. Bowser said the plan was "not ready"; Gray hoped to implement the new lines in time for the 2015-2016 school year. Council member David Catania (I) said he would delay the new boundaries for at least a year. (Washington Post)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- Maine: The RGA isn't giving up on Gov. Paul LePage (R) just yet. The group will spend $2.2 million on broadcast and cable in the Bangor, Portland and Presque Isle markets between Labor Day and Election Day. The RGA has already dropped about $500,000 on LePage's behalf since Aug. 12. A DGA-funded group and Rep. Mike Michaud (D) are both advertising, but LePage's own campaign hasn't gone up yet.
-- Florida: The NRCC is writing checks on behalf of Rep. Steve Southerland (R). The committee just bought $44,000 in TV ads on Southerland's behalf in the Panhandle-based 2nd District, according to new FEC filings. They've already spent almost $225,000 in one of the most competitive races in the country. (FEC)
-- New Hampshire: Two weeks before the primary, outside Republican groups are weighing in with last-minute ads. American Unity PAC and the New Hampshire Priorities PAC have spent a combined $480,000 on behalf of former UNH business school dean Dan Innis (R), who's running against former Rep. Frank Guinta (R). The winner meets Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in the 1st District in November. The Club for Growth kicks off a $120,000 ad on behalf of state Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R), one of four Republicans running for the right to face Rep. Annie Kuster (D) in November.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- Reason for Republican optimism: 58 percent of GOP voters have given "quite a lot" of thought to the midterms, just about equal to the level of Republican interest in the 2010 elections. Reason for (a little less) Democratic optimism: The number of Democrats who have given a lot of thought to the midterms, 44 percent, is 10 points higher than 2010. (Pew Research Center)
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- Shot: Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision, killing aggregate donation limits, is "definitely a good deal for billionaires and special interest groups looking to buy elections." Chaser: Udall and 13 other Democratic candidates will benefit from a "jumbo" joint fundraising committee, Grassroots Victory Project 2014, aiming to raise more than $178,000 a piece from individual donors, a committee made possible by the McCutcheon decision. (Center for Public Integrity)
-- Reid's Take: Our first rule of politics is that the candidate who understands the rules better usually wins. (Think Obama in the 2008 primaries, or Crossroads after Citizens United.) Those who play by their own restrictive rules can lose; remember how close Russ Feingold came to losing in 2004? So, Democrats have to bear the slings and arrows of the hypocrisy charge, but they didn't really have any other choice than to play along.
-- Stock futures are fractionally higher before the bell today, after U.S. markets closed up a hair. The S&P 500 closed just barely above 2,000, the first time that's happened. World markets are mixed today. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- Jim Dyke is best known for crafting messages for his Republican candidates. Now, he's increasingly becoming known for crafting tasting notes for the wines his Mira Winery produces. Dyke and his business partner, the former chief red wine blender for Robert Mondavi, began buying grapes from Napa vineyards in 2009. To break through the clutter in the wine market, Dyke even asked the enemy, the data experts from President Obama's re-election campaign to analyze the value of advertising his wines online. Find Mira wines on the menu at Capital Grille, the Palm and Bobby Van's in D.C. (New York Times)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Vermont Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R) is not your average elected official. In fact, he's much, much faster. Scott became the first acting governor to drive a stock car in a professional race in 2013 when he won a race at Thunder Road International Speedbowl while Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) was out of state. Scott is actually the wins leader at the Barre, Vt. track. (Governing) So, will Scott ever run against Shumlin? Probably not: Shumlin told us a few months back that the two are so close that Scott helped him build a deck on his house last summer.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- An IRS attorney accused of lying to a court-appointed board over a personal injury client she represented about a year before joining the IRS faces the prospect of losing her law license. The attorney is a section manager in the IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility who is routinely sent out to lecture IRS officials about upholding high professional standards. (Washington Times)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- Audio recordings from a conference of Charles and David Koch's political donor network this June in Dana Point, Calif., shows three Republican Senate candidates -- Reps. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) -- praising the group for outside spending they said would help them win their races. More audio from the conference show Freedom Partners President Marc Short expressing doubt that the Michigan Senate seat is winnable, and AFP President Tim Phillips suggesting Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is in "decent shape" in a blue state. (Huffington Post)