Top of the Hour

Good morning. Today we’re keeping up with all the new congressional retirements, wondering where Tim Scott supporters go from here, and remembering Jim Toole. Let’s get after it.  

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What's News

FIELD OF REPUBLICANS: The results of a recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll suggest that the Iowans who were initially planning to vote for Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) at the Jan. 15 caucus will be evenly split between former President Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Trump was the second choice of 28% of Scott supporters, 25% said it would be Haley, and 23% said it would be DeSantis. The poll is very limited, since only 7% of the 404 likely caucusgoers surveyed said they would vote for Scott, but it does suggest that there’s no obvious beneficiary to the senator’s decision to drop out of the race. (Des Moines Register) Scott’s decision to suspend his campaign came as a surprise to his donors. (AP) The remaining candidates have quickly turned to courting Scott’s donors now that he’s dropped out of the race. “[It] remains unclear that any Trump alternative can consolidate support in a way that seriously challenges him, with DeSantis and Haley increasingly turning their fire on each other.” (Washington Post) One Scott donor, attorney Eric Levine, is already sending out invitations for a fundraiser in New York for Haley. (Politico)

Scott’s campaign had issues with communications and trust. Many of the senator’s allies also believed his campaign had run its course long before he suspended it on Sunday night. Furthermore, tech billionaire Larry Ellison “wound up not giving anything to” the super PAC backing Scott’s bid despite the expectation that he would be the group’s top donor after he handed $35 million to Scott-aligned groups between 2020 and 2022. Scott’s quiet performance at the first primary debate sealed his fate. (New York Times)

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) campaign said that it had met the 80,000-donor threshold for the fourth primary debate on Dec. 6. Christie still needs to meet the polling threshold to qualify for the televised event. (NBC News)

HOUSE PRIMARY ROUNDUP: Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX 04) filed to run in his old state Senate seat, forgoing a congressional reelection bid. Fallon said: “If we lose Texas, we lose the nation.” (Texas Tribune) In a neighboring district, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX 26) announced he will retire at the end of the term. (release) Fallon and Burgess are the fourth Dallas-area representatives to not seek reelection, with Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX 32) running for Senate and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX 12) retiring.

In MD-03, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) will not run for Congress to replace retiring Rep. John Sarbanes (D). Ball was initially considered a top contender for the seat. (WBAL) State Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D) and Dels. Vanessa Atterbeary (D) and Terri Hill (D) recently launched campaigns. (Maryland Matters)

In NJ-08, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla (D) announced raising $509,000 in the first month since launching an exploratory committee to challenge Rep. Rob Menendez (D). The total surpasses Menendez’s $433,000 cash-on-hand total from the latest filing period. NJ-08 is a Latino-majority district. (New Jersey Globe)

In NY-26, state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D) will seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Brian Higgins (D), who’s resigning in February. Because of state special election rules, Erie and Niagara counties will nominate a candidate for the election, which will be held 70-80 days after Higgins resigns. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D) are also potential contenders for the safe Democratic seat. (Buffalo News/WIVB)

In OH-02, Clermont County GOP Chairman Charles Tassell (R) said he’s forming a campaign committee to make a decision to run for Congress “as soon as possible.” He’s “actively” raising money to replace retiring Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R). (Hotline reporting)

NEW YORK: Former Trump administration official Bill Maloney (R) is considering a primary challenge to Rep. Mike Lawler (R). Maloney began as an intern on Trump's first campaign before becoming a special policy assistant to former Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Ben Carson. He said he will form an exploratory committee within the next three weeks, and then make a decision within the first two weeks of 2024. Maloney said the ongoing redistricting litigation, as well as the ability to run on the Conservative Party ticket will factor into his decision to run. Maloney said he will court the former president’s endorsement. He disagrees with Lawler on a host of issues, including support for Ukraine funding and abortion legislation. Maloney said he supports a federal abortion ban after 15 weeks, while Lawler does not. (Hotline reporting)

In NY-03, the House Ethics Committee “is slated to release the findings of its investigation” into Rep. George Santos (R). “If it’s damning, as many expect, New York Republicans who have called for his removal are likely to move quickly against him.” A previous attempt to expel Santos failed overwhelmingly, as an expulsion resolution needs two-thirds of the House to pass. (Politico) 2022 candidate Josh Lafazan (D) dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination and endorsed former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D), who launched his campaign last month. (Politico)

LAW AND ORDER DJT: As part of her plea deal in the election conspiracy case in Georgia, former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis told Fulton County prosecutors that former Trump aide Dan Scavino told her that Trump, despite losing both the 2020 election and most of his subsequent legal challenges, was “not going to leave” the White House. Former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, as part of her plea deal, “explained to prosecutors her plans for seizing voting machines nationwide and claimed that she frequently communicated with Trump during her efforts to overturn the 2020 election—though both now claim she was never his attorney.” Powell repeated Trump’s election lies while giving testimony to prosecutors. (ABC News)

Kenneth Chesebro, another former Trump attorney who made a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors, “disclosed in his recorded statement that at a previously unreported White House meeting, he briefed Trump on election challenges in Arizona and summarized a memo in which he offered advice on assembling alternate slates of electors in key battlegrounds to cast ballots for Trump despite Biden’s victories in those states. Chesebro’s recollection could provide evidence that Trump was aware of the elector plan.” (Washington Post)

CA SEN: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-12) may be trailing behind Reps. Adam Schiff (D-30) and Katie Porter (D-47) in the race for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D) seat, but she is still “determined to remain in the race. She told The Sacramento Bee in an interview Friday that she has no plans to shift gears and seek re-election to a 14th term in the House before the Dec. 8 filing deadline.” (Sacramento Bee)

MT SEN: A super PAC aligned with NRSC Chair Steve Daines that’s backing former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy (R) in his bid to take on Sen. Jon Tester (D), is out with another round of ads. More Jobs, Less Government booked more than $275,000 on digital ads that will air on YouTube and other streaming platforms over the course of the next month touting Sheehy’s military background and positions on the border. Last month, the PAC spent $250,000 on a statewide radio ad for Sheehy. (National Review)

REPUBLICANS: Trump “has grown ‘increasingly sour’ on” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and the committee itself after the GOP suffered more defeats at last week’s elections in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. “Trump has been hearing from allies within his party who believe McDaniel’s leadership at the RNC is to blame for the party’s struggles. … They want Trump to pressure McDaniel to resign.” (CNBC)

GENERAL ELECTION: Executives at Univision, a Spanish-language network that was once very critical of Trump, appear to be cozying up to the former president. Trump “hosted a trio of its executives at Mar-a-Lago last week during an hour-long Univision interview that was notable for its gracious tone, starting with a question about how well he is doing among Latino voters in early general election polling.” The interview “has shocked Democrats—who are preparing a massive ad campaign to brand Trump as hostile to Latino interests—and some journalists inside Univision, who think that the past week has demonstrated the heavy hand of their new corporate bosses.” (Washington Post)

LOUISIANA REDISTRICTING: Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said he “is likely to call” the Legislature to a special map-drawing session if state lawmakers “are forced to adhere to a Jan. 15 deadline” to reconfigure the congressional lines. A federal appeals court set the deadline last week, but Gov.-elect Jeff Landry (R) couldn’t call a special session until Jan. 15, per the state constitution. (Times-Picayune/Advocate)

UT SEN: State House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) is calling a lawsuit being brought against him by a former employee of his company, a “meritless” attempt to damage his campaign. His attorneys recently dismissed the suit, arguing that the former employee “seeks to transform an unfounded grievance and decades-old malcontent into a groundless lawsuit with false allegations timed to smear Wilson and hurt his political campaign.” (Deseret News)

RI-01 SPECIAL: Rep. Gabe Amo (D) was sworn in last night, becoming the first Black representative from the Ocean State. (Boston Globe)

VA-07: A number of Democrats could jump in the race to succeed Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D), who announced her run for governor yesterday: state Sen. Jeremy McPike, former state Del. Hala Ayala, state Sen.-elect Jennifer Carroll Foy, former National Security Council official Yevgeny Vindman, state Del. Briana Sewell, Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef, 2023 state Senate candidate Joel Griffin, Prince William County Supervisor Maraget Franklin, state Del. Elizabeth Guzman, and 2020 VA-05 nominee Cameron Webb. (Hotline reporting)

   What It Takes 2024

The Hotline team discusses its series looking at the political landscape one year out from the election.

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 Hotline's Graph of the Day


A new study from Gallup found support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high. Gallup found that "seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years."


 Hair of the Dog

French police foil €600k champagne theft after high-speed chase” (The Guardian)

Our Call

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made it his singular mission to prevent former President Trump from winning the GOP nomination. Whether at home or abroad, he slams his one-time boss at every turn. But if he is serious about stopping the president, it may be in his best interest to drop out of the race. There is no obvious path for him to the nomination, as most GOP voters appear to dislike him. He could be taking away voters from a candidate like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the crucial early-voting state of New Hampshire, where he often polls in double digits. And other presidential candidates are doing Christie’s dirty work anyway, increasing their criticism of the former president with just two months to go until the Iowa caucus. Christie’s campaign met the donor criteria for the fourth presidential primary debate, but it might be better for him to not attend at all—and leave it as a one-on-one battle between Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the chance to take on Trump. — Zac Weisz

 Fresh Brewed Buzz

Jim Toole, cantankerous former owner of Capitol Hill Books, dies at 86” (Washington Post)

Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge who was an older sister of” Trump “and served as both his protector and critic throughout their lives, has died. She was 86.” (New York Times)

“The Metropolitan Police Department and Secret Service are investigating an agent-involved shooting after possibly three individuals attempted to break into a government car outside the Georgetown home” of Naomi Biden, the president’s granddaughter. (ABC News)

“In their final session before adjourning for the year, members of the Michigan Legislature finalized a set of bills that would help protect poll workers and regulate the use of artificial intelligence in political advertising as the country moves into another election year.” (Michigan Advance)

With the Supreme Court “buffeted by revelations about the failures by some of its members to include luxury travel in their financial disclosures, the justices on Monday issued a code of conduct.” However, the code was “met with criticism from court-reform advocates and Democratic lawmakers for its failure to provide for any enforcement mechanism.” (SCOTUSblog)

Donald Trump Jr., during his second appearance as a witness at the former president’s civil fraud trial in New York, told the court that his father’s brilliance helped bolster the value of his commercial properties. (New York Times)

Former Fox News reporter Jason Donner is suing the network for wrongful termination. Donner alleges that he was fired from the company after he refused to “report false information” about the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Axios)

 Rooster's Crow

The House is in at 9 a.m. The Senate is in at 10 a.m.

Biden will deliver remarks on climate change at 10:10 a.m. He will leave the White House for Joint Base Andrews at 11:10 a.m. en route to San Francisco. He will arrive in California at 4:50 p.m. and join Vice President Kamala Harris at a campaign reception at 9:45 p.m.

Swizzle Challenge

Though he did not personally attend, President George W. Bush first celebrated Diwali in the White House.

No one won yesterday's challenge. Here’s our challenge: Which former senior advisor to the president was born on Nov. 14, 1956?

The 3rd correct email gets to submit the next question.

 Early Bird Special

China sent a spy balloon across the U.S. Biden called Xi a "dictator." Their meeting in SF is mainly an effort to stabilize the relationship and improve communications.

Looking to shrink the federal budget, the House GOP proposed cuts to AIDS programs, including a Trump-era initiative.

PLUS: Menendez calls on Biden to help Armenians; morale improves at FTC; and the EPA upgrades “Safer Choice” standards for green products.

The Hotline team discusses its series looking at the political landscape one year out from the election.


“Here we are, we’re doing the same thing.” — Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX 21) on the same budget problems plaguing Speaker Mike Johnson that hampered former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Washington Post)


“Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do we will do over and over and over again forever.” — Rust Cohle (True Detective)

Kirk A. Bado, Wake-Up Call! Editor

Associate Editor: Hannah Thacker
Senior Production Editor: Taameen Mohammad
Staff Writers: Mary Frances McGowan, Zac Weisz, James A. Downs, Sydney Kashiwagi
Hotline Intern:  Erika Filter

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