Pluribus AM: AZ gov race called; Google, Walmart settle with states; LA Sen. John Kennedy considers gov run

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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. In today’s edition, a final look at 2022 governor’s races; Google and Walmart settle with states; and Sen. John Kennedy considers a Gov run in 2023:

Top Stories

ARIZONA: In the final outstanding gubernatorial race of the midterm elections, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) defeated former TV anchor Kari Lake (R), the AP, CNN and NBC projected. Hobbs leads Lake by a margin of just under 20,000 votes, or about 0.8%, with 98% of the vote counted. (Arizona Republic) The margin is larger than what would qualify for an automatic recount under state law.

So, final gubernatorial tally: Democrats net two seats, scoring pickups in Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona, while Republicans ousted Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). We’re still waiting on a call in Alaska, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) looks set to win re-election.

PRIVACY: Google has agreed to pay almost $400 million in a settlement with 40 state attorneys general over allegations the company tracked users’ locations without their knowledge. Google does not admit wrongdoing, but the company agreed to limit location data it can store and use. (Pluribus News)

OPIOIDS: Walmart has proposed a $3.1 billion settlement over its role in the opioid epidemic. In a statement, the company said it would reduce the amount of opioids dispensed and do more to protect against diversion and theft. Walmart “strongly disputes” allegations made by states that it improperly filled prescriptions. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said the company would have to comply with oversight measures. (Associated Press)

KENTUCKY: The state Supreme Court hears arguments this morning over an abortion ban put in place by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2019. The ban was initially struck down by a Louisville judge before winning reinstatement at the state Court of Appeals. (Associated Press) The hearing comes a week after Kentucky voters defeated an anti-abortion measure at the ballot box.

OHIO: State lawmakers will consider a distracted driving bill that would levy a $150 fine on anyone caught using an electronic wireless communications device — a cell phone — while on the road. The bill could get a vote in the full House as soon as this week. (Statehouse News Bureau)

PENNSYLVANIA: The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote today on two articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D). The move comes as Democrats appear poised to win back the majority. An impeachment vote would trigger a Senate trial, where two-thirds are needed to convict. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

FLORIDA: New documents released in response to a lawsuit show top Florida safety official Larry Keefe texted with Perla Huerta, the woman believed to have recruited migrants in San Antonio for a flight to Martha’s Vineyard. The texts show Keefe communicated about contracts and flight times with the owner of the charter company that operated the flights. (Politico)

SOUTH DAKOTA: The Government Accountability Board voted to subpoena documents from the Division of Criminal Investigations into Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) use of a state airplane. Hughes County State’s Attorney Jessica LaMie had said there are no facts to support a criminal prosecution of Noem, but the DCI has not turned over documents the board requested. (Fargo Forum)

ILLINOIS: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) plans to use a projected $1.7 billion revenue surplus to more than double the state’s rainy day fund, pay off revenue bonds issued in 2010 and contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. (Capitol Fax) 

TEXAS: Legislators got their first chance to pre-file bills ahead of next year’s legislative session, and boy did they ever take advantage of it. By this morning, they had filed 921 pieces of legislation. The state comptroller estimates Texas will have at least an extra $27 billion to spend compared with last session. (Texas Tribune)

In Politics

LOUISIANA: Sen. John Kennedy (R) is giving “serious consideration” to a bid for governor next year. Kennedy released a poll showing him leading the field ahead of state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R). (Lafayette Daily Advertiser) Landry has already won support from the state Republican Party. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is term-limited.

REPUBLICANS: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) will head the Republican Attorneys General Association for the next cycle. Montana AG Austin Knudsen (R) will serve as vice chair. RAGA says their members have filed 89 lawsuits against the Biden administration, along with 15 motions to intervene. (Yellowhammer News)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The 400-member state House of Representatives will be among the most narrowly divided in recent history. Republicans hold 202 seats, while Democrats hold 198. (New Hampshire Union Leader) With the amount of turnover New Hampshire’s House regularly experiences, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the majority change hands at least once in the next two years.

GEORGIA: House Republicans formally nominated state Rep. Jon Burns (R) as the next House Speaker, choosing an ally of outgoing Speaker David Ralston (R) over more conservative state Rep. Barry Fleming (R). (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

NORTH DAKOTA: State Rep. Dennis Johnson (R) will serve as House Speaker and state Rep. Mike Lefor (R) will serve as majority leader as conservatives steamed to leadership wins. Sen. David Hogue (R) will serve as Senate majority leader. (Fargo Forum)

HAWAII: House Republicans have chosen state Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto (R) as their new minority leader. All six members of the House GOP Caucus get leadership posts. (Civil Beat) Sen. Kurt Fevella (R) will remain minority leader and minority floor leader — though the Senate Republican caucus swelled to two members.

MICHIGAN: Former Attorney General candidate Matthew DePerno will run for chairman of Michigan’s Republican Party. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig bowed out of the race. (Detroit Free Press)

PEOPLE: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) chief of staff Paul Mounds and general counsel Nora Dannehy will leave their jobs. Deputy chief of staff Jonathan Dach will replace Mounds. (CT Mirror) Wyoming Sen. Drew Perkins (R) will serve as Gov. Mark Gordon’s (R) chief of staff with the retirement of Buck McVeigh. (Wyoming Tribune Eagle) Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) has tapped Fagan Harris, chief executive of Baltimore Corps, to serve as his chief of staff. (Maryland Matters) Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has hired outgoing House Speaker Alec Garnett (D) as his new chief. (Denver Post)

By The Numbers

21,063: The number of vacant jobs in New York City government as of August, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s (D) office. The city has lost 19,000 full-time employees over the last two years. The Department of Correction, the Department of Investigation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission had the highest vacancy rates. (City and State)

1,466: The number of catalytic converter thefts reported to 37 police agencies in Rhode Island this year. That’s up from just eight in 2017, and 44 in 2018. (WPRI)

Off The Wall

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), in search of an election to audit to show the accuracy of voting machines, chose his own race to examine. Raffensperger said he chose to audit his own race because he won by the largest margin of any statewide officeholder. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) Weird flex, but okay.

More than half of dentists surveyed recently reported patients are arriving to appointments high on cannabis or another drug. About half of those dentists say they have had to increase anesthesia in patients who needed care because of the impact cannabis has on the central nervous system. (High Times) We can’t believe we just linked to High Times.

Quote of the Day

“This was the asteroid that ended the reign of the dinosaur, and in this case, the dinosaur was the Republican Party.”

Colorado state Rep. Colin Larson (R), on midterm election results. (Colorado Public Radio)