Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.* An interesting observation from CNBC's John Harwood: each of the last five presidents -- Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama -- left office with Congress in the hands of the opposite party.* On Thursday, the Trump Transition Office announced that Jason Miller would become the new White House Communications Director. On Christmas Eve, Miller reversed course and said he wouldn't take the job, following reports of an alleged extra-marital affair with a Team Trump colleague. Sean Spicer will now serve as communications director and press secretary.* Speaking of Spicer, the RNC official took offense over the weekend when an RNC press statement said "this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King," and some wondered whether Republicans were referring to Donald Trump.* There's a great deal of interest in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-N.D.) career plans, and on Thursday morning, she said on a radio show that "it's likely" she'll remain in the Senate, rather than joining Trump's cabinet.* Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) still has two years remaining before his re-election bid, but for now, his goal is to scare off would-be rivals. With that in mind, the Republican incumbent just announced the other day he's contributed $50 million to his own campaign. Rauner is independently wealthy following a career in private equity.* Carl Paladino, the co-chair of Trump's New York campaign, said on Friday he wants President Obama to die from mad-cow disease in 2017. Paladino, a failed Republican gubernatorial candidate, also said in reference to First Lady Michelle Obama, "I'd like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."* Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Trump's choice for Interior Secretary, is facing allegations that he improperly asked the Navy to pay for his personal travel. After he was caught and asked to knock it off, Zinke reportedly kept doing it anyway.* And if you saw reports that retired football coach Barry Switzer met with Trump at Trump Tower recently about a possible post in the upcoming administration, note that those reports were mistaken. This was all part of a joke Switzer played on the press corps.