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First Read Flash: Gun control remains stalled

Washington Post: "The military’s beleaguered background-check system failed to block Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis from an all-access pass to a half-dozen
Navy Yard Shooting, security - Erin Delmore - 09/16/2013
An armed officer who said he is with the Department of Defense, warns a vehicle to stay away from the gate at the Washington Navy Yard, closed to all but...

Washington Post: "The military’s beleaguered background-check system failed to block Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis from an all-access pass to a half-dozen military installations, despite a history of arrests for shooting episodes and disorderly conduct. Alexis, a military contractor working on a computer project, used his secret-level clearance to gain entry to the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, where officials said he gunned down a dozen people before being killed by police."

NBC News: Alexis "rented an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and used it for target practice at a Northern Virginia gun range and store less than two days before his shooting spree, according to the lawyer for the store. J. Michael Slocum, a lawyer for Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va., said in an email to NBC News that on Sept. 14 Alexis also bought a Remington 870 shotgun and a "small amount of ammunition -- approximately 2 boxes- 24 shells." Alexis listed his residence as being in Texas."

NBC's Kasie Hunt & Carrie Dann: "A day after a mass shooting left 13 dead within two miles of the Capitol, federal gun legislation is in the same place as it’s been for months: stalled in Congress. Still stung by an April defeat in the Senate, discouraged proponents of gun control legislation say that the chances for change are still dim, even as new calls for reform echo in the wake of the Navy Yard massacre. Aides and advocates say that little has changed from a political perspective to give supporters of gun control the five votes they would need to push through an amendment like the one crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that fell six votes short of passage in April."

New York Times: "For four years, President Obama counted on fellow Democrats to rally to his side in a series of epic battles with Republicans over the direction of the country. But now, deep in his fifth year in office, Mr. Obama finds himself frustrated by members of his own party weary of his leadership and increasingly willing to defy him. In recent weeks, disgruntled Democrats, particularly liberals, have bolted from the White House on issues like National Security Agency surveillance policies, a planned military strike on Syria and the potential choice of Lawrence H. Summers to lead the Federal Reserve. In private, they often sound exasperated describing Mr. Obama’s operation; in public, they are sometimes only a little more restrained."

Los Angeles Times: "The federal deficit has shrunk to its lowest level since 2008, according to a report released Tuesday, but House Republicans will begin the next budget battle this week with a vote that threatens to shut down the federal government unless President Obama agrees to halt his healthcare law. The deficit has dropped from its peak at the start of the Great Recession and is on track to decline even more thanks to an improving economy, higher taxes on the wealthy and reduced federal spending, the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded."

Washington Post: "The threat of a government shutdown intensified Tuesday as House Republican leaders moved toward stripping funding from President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative and setting up a stalemate with the Democratic Senate. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had hoped to keep the government open past Sept. 30 with relatively little fuss. But roughly 40 conservatives revolted. After a strategy session Tuesday, Boehner and his leadership team were being pushed into a more confrontational strategy that would fund the government into the new fiscal year only if Democrats agreed to undermine Obama’s signature legislative achievement."

Roll Call: "Sen. David Vitter’s push to eliminate health care benefits for lawmakers and staff may finally get a vote this week, but few on either side of the aisle seem happy about it. The Louisiana Republican’s lonely push to prohibit lawmakers and staff from keeping their health benefits in the new Obamacare exchanges held up the Senate for nearly a week. The stakes are high for Capitol Hill, and senior aides on both sides of the aisle fear a brain drain if staffers lose their benefits. The vote also could hold political peril given that senators would have to vote to save their own benefits as well if they vote down Vitter’s amendment."

Politico: "Democrats need to win in conservative parts of the country next year to capture the House and keep the Senate — and they’re turning to a few good men (and women) to help. The party has mounted a concerted push to recruit military veterans to run in next year’s midterm, figuring it’s a lot harder for Republicans to caricature people who’ve donned their country’s uniform as Obama-loving liberals. House Democrats, who need to net a daunting 17 seats to win the House, have so far recruited a half-dozen veterans to run in red-tinged districts."

National Journal's Josh Kraushaar notes that "there's one power player that's lying low in the off year: Karl Rove's American Crossroads. Even with the influx of outside cash, the granddaddy of all super PACs hasn't spent a dime on campaign activity this year. At a time when growing numbers of GOP strategists believe that (very) early engagement against opponents is preferable to a last-minute blitz, Crossroads' passivity stands out. Crossroads hasn't spent any money to soften up Democratic senators in trouble next year."

COLORADO: Denver Post: "The ability to break the status quo and defeat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's 'good ol' boy network' will be a difficult task, but Secretary of State Scott Gessler said Tuesday he's the most qualified Republican for the job. 'What I offer is a great track record of achievement,' said Gessler in the moments after his campaign announcement that drew several dozen American flag-waving supporters to the Cable Center Auditorium at the University of Denver. 'We've been incredibly innovative and dynamic in the secretary of state office.'"

KANSAS: Kansas City Star: "Democrat Paul Davis officially entered the 2014 Kansas governor’s race on Tuesday, declaring it was 'time to set things right' in seeking to defeat incumbent Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Davis, the House minority leader and Lawrence attorney, announced his plans through Facebook and Twitter, as well as a YouTube video. It is the 41-year-old Davis’ first attempt at a statewide office. No other Democrats have joined the race."

KENTUCKY: "An outside group boosting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to go up with TV ads lauding him for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, POLITICO has learned. The nonprofit Kentucky Opportunity Coalition plans to spend $325,000 on a week’s worth of commercials running statewide," Politico reports. "The ads come as the Kentucky Republican faces pressure from the right to threaten a government shutdown rather than fund the federal health care law. The spots emphasize McConnell’s opposition to 'Obamacare' and cite the recent decision by UPS to drop health coverage for 15,000 'working spouses,' a decision the company blamed in part on the ACA."

MICHIGAN: National Journal: "Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan Republican who has established himself as the leading libertarian in the House of Representatives, will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014, according to several sources familiar with the congressman's decision. Amash was tempted by the allure of a campaign for higher office, sources say, but the second-term lawmaker ultimately was unwilling to risk surrendering the clout he enjoys among conservatives in the GOP-controlled House."

NEW JERSEY: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will campaign with Democratic Senate nominee Cory Booker on Friday in Jersey City, the Newark mayor's campaign announced on Tuesday.

The New York Times looks at how Gov. Chris Christie's "close relationship" with the RGA "provides a playbook for how carefully choreographed independent spending campaigns can undermine the rules meant to curtail the political influence of government contractors; New Jersey’s pay-to-play law strictly limits the participation of state contractors in political giving."

TEXAS: Washington Post: "Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is almost ready to announce her gubernatorial bid -- but first she will expand her social network just a little bit more. In an e-mail sent to her supporters Wednesday morning, Davis -- who garnered national attention this summer for fighting a sweeping antiabortion bill in her state -- wrote she will be "answering the question" of what's next for her career on Oct. 3. But before making her formal announcement, she posed a question of her own: "Do you have any friends or family who would like to be among the first to know?"

VIRGINIA: Richmond Times Dispatch: "Less than 50 days to Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe holds a slight three percentage point lead over Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, while Libertarian nominee Robert C. Sarvis has the backing of seven percent of likely voters. The Quinnipiac University poll released today showing the major political party candidates apart 44-41 percent, is the first that has included Sarvis. It shows a tightening between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, as the Democrat’s edge shrank from an August Quinnipiac poll that showed him with a 6-percentage point margin, 48-42 percent."

Washington Post: "Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II fired up a crowd of several hundred Republicans and tea party members Tuesday with rousing talk about keeping Washington at bay and fighting to maintain the commonwealth’s tradition of limited government. But the Virginia attorney general was also forced to distance himself from a local Republican official who spoke ahead of the candidate and told an anti-Semitic joke; a video of the joke went viral later in the day."

WEST VIRGINIA: Charleston Daily Mail: "The Democrat announced her candidacy to more than 75 people at the Culture Center in Charleston Tuesday morning as part of a statewide campaign kickoff. Tennant's announcement essentially guarantees she'll square off against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. In vowing to protect West Virginia's jobs, children and future, Tennant wasted little time before attacking Capito and her record."

University of Minnesota's Smart Politics points out that "a 2014 West Virginia race between Shelley Moore Capito and Natalie Tennant would be the 13th U.S. Senate contest featuring two female major party nominees in U.S. history, and just the third without an incumbent."

The Washington Post takes note of a clip in Tennant's kick-off video: "Multiple University of Pittsburgh graduates tell Post Politics that the campus footage at 2:20 of the video appears to be of their school, which happens to be West Virginia University's big rival."