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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.
-- Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned on Wednesday as her support on Capitol Hill began to crumble. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson accepted her resignation after President Obama learned through the media that a security guard with past convictions and a gun was allowed on an elevator with him last month in Atlanta. Pierson will be replaced on an interim basis by Joseph Clancy, who retired in 2011 after heading up President Obama's personal detail to take over security for Comcast in 2011. (Washington Post, twice)
-- A patient with flu-like symptoms who later tested positive for Ebola was not admitted to a Dallas hospital despite telling a nurse he had traveled to Liberia. Dallas officials are monitoring the man's family, though they have no other suspected cases right now. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, interacted with 12 to 18 people, including five school-aged children, before being admitted to the hospital. (Washington Post) Federal officials are planning to quickly increase production of ZMapp, the most promising experimental Ebola drug, to help stop the spread of the virus in West Africa. (New York Times)
-- The short list to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder is headed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who's well-liked by President Obama. PepsiCo General Counsel Tony West and Labor Secretary Tom Perez are under consideration, though Perez would spark a major partisan battle. The fourth person on the list is a woman, but it's not clear if that woman is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta Lynch, or former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler. (Washington Post)
-- China warned of "unimaginable" consequences for Hong Kong demonstrators demanding democratic rights in a front-page editorial in the Communist Party's main newspaper. Protestors have demanded Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying step down, but Beijing gave its full support. Thousands of demonstrators remain on the streets, and protest leaders are deciding whether to escalate the conflict by stroming government buildings. (Washington Post, New York Times)
-- The St. Louis County prosecutor's office is investigating an accusation of misconduct by a member of the grand jury hearing the case against Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Several people on Twitter said one juror had discussed evidence in the case with a friend, who then posted about the conversation. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post)
-- Front Pages: WaPo six-column lede: "Pierson steps down as head of Secret Service." WSJ five columns: "Embattled Secret Service Chief Quits." LA Times has a one-column lead on Pierson's exit. NYT and USA Today lead with the race to contain Ebola in Dallas. Dallas Morning News full banner: "Findings and fallout; Liberian's travel history wasn't fully relayed; Kids in contact with man stay out of school; Details emerge about patient's Texas ties."
Poll-a-Palooza: Twice in one week? It must be October.
-- Kansas: Investor Greg Orman (I) leads Sen. Pat Roberts (R) 46 percent to 41 percent in a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll that also shows state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) ahead of Gov. Sam Brownback (R) 46 percent to 42 percent. Roberts and Brownback's favorable ratings are both below 40 percent. And 36 percent of likely Kansas voters say they trust Fox News for their political news; no other network cracks 13 percent. (Suffolk, pdf)
-- Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker (R) leads Madison school board member Mary Burke (D) 50 percent to 45 percent among likely voters, and 46 percent to 45 percent among registered voters. It's the first time this year Marquette has seen an edge for either candidate outside the 3.5 percent margin of error. Burke leads big in Milwaukee city and the Madison media market, while Walker is winning the rest of the Milwaukee market outside the city by a 62 percent to 32 percent margin. (Marquette)
-- Maryland: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) leads businessman Larry Hogan (R) by a slim 47 percent to 43 percent in a survey taken for a super PAC backing Hogan's campaign. The pollster, Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, doesn't have an ideological track record, however. The results are much closer than a June Washington Post poll that had Brown up 18 points. (Washington Post)
-- South Carolina: Gov. Nikki Haley (R) leads state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D) 44 percent to 34 percent in a new Winthrop University poll, with former legislator Tom Ervin (I) taking just 4 percent. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R) and Tim Scott (R) both lead their opponents by around 20 points, and President Obama's job approval rating is a dismal 38 percent. (Winthrop) Sheheen and Lt. Gov. candidate Bakari Sellers (D) said Wednesday they want the Confederate flag removed from the State House grounds. (The State)
-- Massachusetts: Still too close for Democratic comfort. Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) leads businessman Charlie Baker (R) 44 percent to 41 percent with 11 percent still undecided in a new WBUR/MassInc poll. Baker's 47 percent favorable ratings are pretty high for someone with a limited statewide profile, and Coakley's unfavorables have jumped 8 points in the last week. (RealClearPolitics) The Massachusetts Congressional delegation has been asked to give Coakley $25,000 each to help her shore up her struggling campaign. (Boston Globe)
National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.
-- WH'16: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a fan in House Speaker John Boehner. Asked about Bush in an inteview, Boehner said: "I think the [biggest] issue [in 2016] is going to be competence. I think [Bush] could be a very competent candidate and could make that appeal." Bush also said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) won't be disqualified over his views on same-sex marriage, because there are "very few one-issue voters out there." (Cincinnati Enquirer) Vice President Biden will be in Nevada on Monday for an economic event. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) appeared at a barbecue fundraiser for lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores (D) last weekend. (Las Vegas Sun)
-- North Carolina: A three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the state must allow same-day registration and provisional ballots, two of the practices eliminated by last year's election reform law. The court left most of the new law in place, including a provision that cut the number of days during which early voting will take place. Republicans said they would appeal, and that the 4th Circuit panel had violated a Supreme Court precedent against changing elections laws too close to Election Day itself. (Charlotte Observer)
-- Texas: We don't always include fundraising reports, but when we do, it's for shock value: Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) has $30 million in his campaign account for the month-long final sprint, after raising $7.8 million between July 1 and Sept. 25, meaning he could spent about $1 million a day until Election Day. Candidates don't have to report their cash on hand for five more days, but Abbott's campaign was apparently so excited they just went ahead and announced early. (Dallas Morning News)
-- Kansas: When a new team of GOP operatives took over Sen. Pat Roberts' (R) campaign, they discovered the old team hadn't ordered yard signs, the campaign headquarters didn't have a printer or even its own internet access. They're working feverishly with the state GOP and an RNC-funded organizer to build a ground game -- something Roberts has never needed. Businessman Greg Orman (I), too, has no preexisting ground operation. He's getting quiet strategic advice from Democrats, but they aren't actively helping build a field program. (Washington Examiner)
-- Nevada: State leaders are engaged in confidential talks with Xerox, the contractor that built the Silver State Exchange, to settle the company's $75 million contract before the two sides head to court. Xerox has asked for an additional $4.4 million, and there's another $5.3 million outstanding, even though it fired the company in May. (Las Vegas Sun)
-- Arkansas: The Republican nominee for Attorney General may get booted off the ballot after the Pulaski County Clerk on Tuesday canceled her voter registration. Clerk Larry Crane (D) said he had canceled Leslie Rutledge's (R) voter registration after learning she registered to vote in D.C. in July 2008, though she voted by absentee in Arkansas that year. Rutledge said it was a politically motivated act. (Blue Hog Report, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) It's not clear what recourse Rutledge has, but we can pretty much guarantee lawyers will get involved.
-- Illinois: A day before President Obama campaigns for Gov. Pat Quinn (D), venture capitalist Bruce Rauner (R) said he would have vetoed legislation expanding Medicaid. But Rauner said he wouldn't push to roll back Medicaid expansion if he wins election this November. Expansion added 468,000 people to the Illinois Medicaid rolls, twice what was initially projected. (Chicago Tribune) The one state where the Affordable Care Act could actually help a Democrat?
DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.
-- President Obama got home -- to his actual home, in Chicago -- late last night after dinner with friends. This morning, he attends a campaign event with Gov. Pat Quinn (D), then he talks up the economy at an event at Northwestern University in Evanston. Obama heads back to D.C. this afternoon, and tonight he addresses the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the convention center.
-- Vice President Biden heads to Boston this morning where he'll attend a DNC fundraiser. Tonight, he heads to the Harvard Institute of Politics to deliver a foreign policy address. He heads back to D.C. this evening.
-- House Speaker John Boehner will neither confirm nor deny rumors he was planning to retire before Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary earlier this year. "Maybe true, maybe not true," Boehner said. "I told my colleagues in June, just in case anybody had any doubts, that I was all in." (Cincinnati Enquirer) Sounds like those colleagues needed some reassuring. In the interview, Boehner also said repealing the medical device tax and approving the Keystone XL pipeline would be top priorities if Republicans win the Senate.
-- In a press conference Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi acknowledged Democrats weren't going to take back the majority, but hinted that presidential-level turnout in 2016 could be enough for Democrats to take back the majority. Pelosi made clear she plans to stick around at least through the 2016 elections. (Washington Post)
-- HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) will be the Democratic speakers at the Gridiron Club's winter dinner on Dec. 6. They know a little something about Gridirons: They appeared at last year's San Antonio version. (Houston Chronicle)
TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where.
-- At this point, the airwaves in virtually every Senate race are saturated. Every gross ratings point costs multiples of what it did just a few weeks ago, and every outside group is emptying their wallets to influence every voter possible. But who's actually advertising the most? Here's a look at the top 5 outside groups by number of actual ads run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 25, courtesy of data from the Wesleyan Media Project:
-- Republican Governors Association: The RGA has run 11,500 ads in 10 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio and Georgia.
-- The Crossroads twins: Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads have combined to run 7,867 ads in Senate races in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Iowa and North Carolina, and in a handful of House races.
-- NextGen Climate Action: Tom Steyer's group has paid for 7,050 ads in Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire, and in the Florida governor's race.
-- The Koch brothers: Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America have run 6,445 ads in Senate races in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Oregon and North Carolina, and in a New Hampshire House race.
--Democratic Governors Association: The DGA has aired 4,750 spots in just two states: Maryland, which is surprising, and Michigan, which isn't.
-- Senate Majority PAC, the Chamber of Commerce, Greater Wisconsin (an anti-Scott Walker PAC), Virginia Progress (a pro-Mark Warner PAC) and the NEA have all run more than 2,000 individual spots in the last few weeks. Data here and here.
The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.
-- "You don’t touch anyone in Liberia. Not kids, not adults, not other Westerners, not the colleagues you arrived with. It is the rule of rules, because while everyone able is taking precautions, you just can’t be sure where the invisible, lethal Ebola virus might be." An incredible essay on the challenges of reporting on Ebola, from The Post's Lenny Bernstein.
B1: Business, politics and the business of politics
-- If you own ElectHillary.com or RandPaul.com, you're in for a big payday. Starting bid for Paul's eponymous domain name is $125,000, while Clinton's is going for $275,000. A 26-year old recent law school grad has collected 180 domain names that have something to do with the 2016 campaign, and he's willing to sell the whole bundle for "tens of thousands," just in case you're interested. (The Hill) Who didn't think to buy RandPaul.com?!?
-- How's this for efficiency: Anders Fogh Rasmussen ended his tenure as NATO Secretary-General on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he announced the founding of his new consulting firm, Rasmussen Global, which will consult on security and diplomatic issues. (Reuters) The website looks sharp, too. He must have some pretty fast web programmers; no way he was working on it when he was still in office, right? Right?
-- Stock futures are up a hair after major U.S. markets fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday, led by airline stocks that took a hit after Ebola showed up in the U.S. Asian markets are still getting hammered, while European markets are mixed. (CNN)
C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.
-- President Obama said less than a month ago he would delay executive action on immigration reform until after the election, in hopes of saving vulnerable Democrats this fall. But mounting evidence suggests that decision is actually hurting his party: Outside groups aren't registering as many Hispanic voters as they hoped, and Democratic approval ratings among Hispanics are dropping, too. Obama will address the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tonight, but Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who tried to defend the administration's delay, didn't get a lot of applause when he spoke to the same group yesterday. (Washington Post)
-- Chaser: The Obama administration carried out 438,421 deportations in 2013, a record number and 20,000 higher than the number carried out in 2013. About 44 percent of deportations that happened last year were fast-track deportations that didn't require going through immigration court. (New York Times)
C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work
-- Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) channeling his inner Bruce Lee is the Vine you have to watch today. McDermott is celebrating the opening of a Bruce Lee exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum, in Seattle's Chinatown neighborhood, and he picked the most hysterical way possible to do so.
Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.
-- The leader of the Islamic State threatened to attack the United States as early as July 2012, two years before the U.S. began launching airstrikes against the militants. Two days after ISIS released the speech by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Obama campaign put out an upbeat video showing troops returning home. (Breitbart)
Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today
-- The College Republican National Committee launched a $1 million ad campaign aimed at wooing younger voters by comparing the Democratic Party to a bad wedding dress. The ad campaign is aimed at mimicking "Say Yes to the Dress." "It's our goal to start the conversation by presenting ourselves in a culturally relevant way," said Alex Smith, the CRNC chair. (Wall Street Journal)