The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — State of the states: Political fights heat up

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — State of the states | Mississippi gov race down to the wire | DeSantis backs paying college athletes | Gabbard won't run for reelection | GOP worried it's losing public opinion over impeachment | Senator vents over Trump: 'He says the dumbest things' | Senate braces for season of gridlock | Cummings's memorial service in Baltimore | Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonStone faces sentencing amid political firestorm Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses Yes, Democrats have to defend their African-American base against Trump MORE's comeback bid | DNC raises debate thresholds, again


Good Friday afternoon from The Hill's K Street newsroom. I'm Reid Wilson filling in for Cate -- and we're going to have a little fun today. Washington has dominated the headlines this week/month/year, but there are some great stories happening in states around the country that we shouldn't overlook. Let's take a brief tour:


MISSISSIPPI: Voters head to the polls next week to choose a new governor, and public polls show a tight race between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) and Attorney General Jim Hood (D). The race has been marked by an investigation Hood's office conducted into Reeves's involvement in a road project (see my write-up here, from September). Now the Jackson Clarion-Ledger finds Hood's office kicked off the investigation in May of this year, long after Hood and Reeves began running against each other. Hood not only didn't recuse himself, he said in August he was personally writing the report.

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGov. DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Florida lawmakers pass bill requiring parental consent for abortions, governor expected to sign MORE (R) is the latest major political figure to come out in favor of a bill that would allow NCAA athletes to be paid while in college. Expect plenty of states to take up similar legislation next year after California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCruz targets California governor over housing 'prescriptions' Trump signs order diverting water to California farmers against state wishes California governor uses State of the State to highlight homelessness crisis MORE (D) signed his state's version of a bill earlier this month. It's a rare area of bipartisan cooperation in legislatures that are growing increasingly polarized.

CALIFORNIA: Speaking of Newsom, he's cementing his place as the most liberal governor of California since Democrat Pat Brown in the 1960s. Newsom has signed 69 bills that his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), vetoed. A great 30,000-foot view of Newsom's first year in office from the Los Angeles Times's George Skelton here.

OKLAHOMA: Voters will get to decide whether Oklahoma expands Medicaid to cover low-income residents next year after supporters of an initiative turned in almost twice the required number of signatures to get it on the 2020 ballot. More Oklahoma voters signed the petition than the number of low-income residents who would gain coverage.

HAWAII: Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardPoll: Biden, Sanders tied in Texas, followed by Warren Five takeaways from new fundraising reports for 2020 Democrats Overnight Defense: GOP lawmaker takes unannounced trip to Syria | Taliban leader pens New York Times op-ed on peace talks | Cheney blasts paper for publishing op-ed MORE (D) says she won't run for reelection to her House seat next year to focus on her long-shot presidential bid. Gabbard had been facing a stiff challenge from state Sen. Kai Kahele (D), who's now the favorite to win this heavily Democratic seat.

PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and Republican legislative leaders have agreed on a big election reform package that brings Pennsylvania's voting laws into, well, at least the 20th century. What Democrats wanted: No-fault absentee ballots, a permanent absentee list and more time to register to vote. What Republicans wanted: An end to straight-ticket voting. What counties get: $90 million in funding to buy new voting machines.

RHODE ISLAND: The company that runs Rhode Island's lottery has spent $1.8 million lobbying the legislature for a 20-year contract extension. The proposed no-bid contract is the subject of a massive fight rocking Providence, in part because the former head of International Game Technology is a close ally of Gov. Gina Raimondo -- and the treasurer of the Democratic Governors Association, which Raimondo runs.

MARYLAND: It's the end of a very long era in Annapolis. State Senate President Thomas "Mike" Miller (D) said Thursday he will step down after 32 years on the job, ending the longest consecutive leadership run of any legislative chamber in the country. Miller, who's undergoing treatment for cancer, will stay in the Senate. (For those of you counting at home, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) has run his chamber longer than Miller, but he spent two years in the minority in the 1990s, so Miller owns the consecutive streak title.) 

TEXAS: State House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R) isn't getting anywhere near Miller's streak. Bonnen said this week he would step down after just one session over a taped conversation with a conservative activist in which Bonnen suggested the activist go after several sitting Republican members. It's a long saga; go read about one of the more bizarre political scandals you'll ever see here.

ALABAMA: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) will run against each other -- not for elected office, but for a delegate slot at the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte. Alabama Republicans will get a chance to pick between the two on a March 3 presidential primary ballot. (By the way, there's a big fight happening in the Alabama Democratic Party, too. Stay tuned to for my story later today.)

WEST VIRGINIA: Companies owned by Gov. Jim Justice (R) have been ordered to pay $35 million in damages for defaulting on a mining contract in Kentucky. It's the latest blow to Justice's companies, which have been sued or fined repeatedly since he took office.


OK, now back to Washington…


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GOP worried it's losing impeachment fight in court of public opinion

Republican senators are worried the White House is losing the battle for public opinion in the high-stakes impeachment inquiry, my colleague Alex Bolton reports. "Does he need to be so unhinged? He says the dumbest things," one Republican senator said of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE. "There needs to be a coordinated effort to just shut up."

At particular risk: Republican senators up for reelection next year who will be forced between a rock and a hard place in a potential trial. Keep an eye on the choice facing Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: Trump pick doesn't have experience to serve as director of national intelligence Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The new American center MORE (R-Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign MORE (R-Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada MORE (R-Colo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate Majority PAC launches first statewide TV ad for Democrat running against Ernst Overnight Health Care: Ernst endorses bipartisan bill to lower drug prices | US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine | UN chief says virus poses 'enormous' risks Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate MORE (R-N.C.).


DNC raises debate threshold, again

The Democratic National Committee said Friday that candidates hoping to qualify for the sixth primary debate, slated for Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, will have to hit 4 percent in four polls, or 6 percent in at least two single-state surveys in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. They must also collect donations from 200,000 donors at a minimum of 800 donations in each of 20 states before midnight on Dec. 12.



Put your nose in the box of peaches

President Trump is headed to Game 5 of the World Series showdown between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, slated for Sunday at Nationals Park. If he gets there on time, he'll be able to see chef José Andrés, a noted Trump critic, throw out the first pitch. But let's be honest, they won't see each other because the Nats are winning in four (sorry @JonEasley).

Speaking of my colleague Jon Easley, don't miss his sit-down with Stephen Bannon, who's using an anti-impeachment podcast to get back in President Trump's good graces. Stay for the f-bombs at the end.



Impeachment dominates the discussion

From my colleague Jordain Carney: "The House impeachment inquiry has quickly sucked up the political oxygen in Washington, ramping up tensions between Congress and the White House ahead of next year's elections. The high-stakes standoff is now raising questions about what, if anything, will get signed into law."

Could we be headed for an impeachment shutdown? President Trump seemed to suggest as much earlier this week.



Now that is a beard:



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The House is out.

Today: President Trump speaks at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, S.C.

Today: Former Presidents Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases The South Carolina Democratic primary will be decided by black women Do Trump and Sanders hate America? MORE and Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDo Trump and Sanders hate America? Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' MORE, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBottom Line Immigrants who seek opportunity should comply with longstanding American values Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE (D-Calif.) and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg called Warren 'scary,' knocked Obama's first term in leaked audio Trump trails Democratic challengers among Catholic voters: poll Sanders under fire from Democrats over praise for Castro regime MORE are speaking at the funeral of the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTop Democrats demand answers on DHS plans to deploy elite agents to sanctuary cities House to vote next week on bill to create women's history museum The Hill's Morning Report - Icy moments between Trump, Pelosi mark national address MORE (D-Md.) in Baltimore. Details from The Baltimore Sun:

Clinton hailed Cummings in her remarks for living up to his Old Testament's namesake by standing against the "corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel." The remarks drew applause from the audience at the service, The Hill's Cristina Marcos reports.

This weekend: Ten presidential candidates speak at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, S.C. Schedule and lineup: 

Nov. 20: The next Democratic presidential primary debate.



8:07 p.m. EDT: Game 3 of the World Series. Game preview from

7:30 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. PDT Sunday: CBS's Norah O'Donnell interviews former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE and his wife, Jill Biden, for "60 Minutes."



Today is National Greasy Foods Day. And for planning purposes, tomorrow is National Pumpkin Day and Sunday is National Potato Day.


A group of protesters cheered up a toddler

Via BBC, "A group of protesters in Lebanon began singing Baby Shark after a mother told them her 15 month-old son was scared." Watch:


And to get your weekend off to the right start, here's a dog embracing its inner whale: