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* The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote Tuesday on defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. He should have enough support from Democrats to win approval from the panel. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he expected the full Senate's debate over Hagel to wrap up by Thursday.

* Businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez (R) took out nominating papers Monday for the upcoming Massachusetts Senate special election. Prospective candidates have until Feb. 27 to collect 10,000 petition signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Last week, state Rep. Dan Winslow (R) became the first Republican to throw his hat in the ring. Democrats are substantial early favorites to hold the seat.

* Florida Republicans -- and at least one Democrat -- are likely breathing sighs of relief following former state GOP chairman Jim Greer's decision to plead guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering. Greer's trial threatened to a be a headache for Republicans, as well as Republican-turned-Democratic former governor Charlie Crist, who appointed Greer chairman in 2006 and was slated to testify.

* Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) will delay his decision about whether to run for the Senate until May, he said on Monday. Keep an eye on whether former secretary of state Karen Handel (R) decides to run for retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss's seat. Handel and Price are close allies, and some observers say they don't think both of them will run.

* Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is the early frontrunner for retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat, according to a Republican poll released Monday. Capito, who has a well-known last name, leads Rep. Nick Rahall (D) 55 percent to 37 percent in the Mark Blankenship Enterprises survey. No Democrats -- Rahall included -- have entered the race, but the poll shows the congressman with a big lead over other potential Democratic candidates.


* Vice President Biden, who is Catholic, said Monday that he is "not running" for the papacy, following Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down at the end of the month.

* Obama will discuss gun violence during a visit to Chicago on Friday that is part of a three-city tour to promote the economic policies he will outline in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Chicago has been plagued by gun violence; it hit the 500-homicide mark last year for the first time since 2008.

* As we await Tuesday night's speech, try crafting your own State of the Union on Twitter in 140 characters or less, and tweet it to @oninnovations or @emikolawole with the hashtag #SOTweetU.

* A new bipartisan task force that includes former secretary of the state Condoleeza Rice, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Henry Cisneros, former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour (R), and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (D) is forming in order to pressure Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.

* Iowa Democrat Michael Sherzan announced that he will run against Rep. Tom Latham (R) in 2014. Sherzan was one of three potential recruits the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee touted in Washington on the sidelines of last month's inaugural festivities. Also worth keeping in mind: Latham is viewed as a potential Senate candidate.

* Secretary of State John Kerry is apparently not a fan of celery.


The Harlem Shake, Peanuts-style.

With Aaron Blake