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Pluribus AM: Water crises everywhere; women poised to make big GOV gains; legal pot coming to NY

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. In today’s edition: Water crises everywhere; recreational pot coming to N.Y.; and women are poised to take record number of governorships:

Top News

WATER: California water agencies are offering to reduce usage of Colorado River water by 400,000 acre-feet through 2026, a 9% cut to their entitlement in the face of the prolonged drought. Curtailments of 2023 allocations have already been announced in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. (CalMatters, Colorado Sun) The Mississippi River stands at its lowest level in a decade, threatening shipping traffic and drinking water. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to build a 45-foot wall on the bottom of the river to prevent saltwater from moving toward water intakes upstream (Baton Rouge Advocate)

One governor’s former chief of staff made the point to us recently that these water stories are among the most important in the nation today. A low Colorado River threatens the fastest-growing areas in the West; a low Mississippi River threatens trade and agriculture in the entire Midwest.

MICHIGAN: A day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a bipartisan bill to replenish a state economic development account, the Michigan Strategic Fund awarded $375 million to two multibillion-dollar electric vehicle battery facilities. One grant will go to Gotion, a Chinese manufacturer building a plant in Big Rapids; the other goes to Our Next Energy, a startup building a plant in Wayne County. (MLive)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) says the state’s first 20 recreational marijuana dispensaries are on track to open by the end of the year, and that she expects about 20 more to open every month afterwards. Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill legalizing marijuana in March 2021, though nothing happened on the regulatory front until Cuomo resigned and Hochul took office. (Advance Media)

NEW MEXICO: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has asked the federal Justice Department to surge FBI troops to Albuquerque in response to a rise in violent crime. Grisham said she wanted to emulate successes of recent surges in places like Buffalo, N.Y. Grisham’s Republican rival, Mark Ronchetti, is making crime a key issue in his campaign. (Associated Press)

MIDWEST: Governors in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin have signed an MOU establishing a Heartland Hydrogen Hub, allowing them to receive federal Department of Energy funding. The hubs are meant to create networks of producers and consumers to accelerate hydrogen adoption. (Fargo Forum) We’ve seen other deals in the Midwest and the South.

CENSUS: Expect the U.S. Census Bureau to rely heavily on data collected by states, other federal agencies and even commercial vendors to conduct the 2030 count, Director Robert Santos told us in an exclusive interview. The goal is to deploy more resources to count those who are hard to reach, while using administrative records to find those who are easiest to tally. (Pluribus News)

NEBRASKA: Conservative activists are trying to get legislators to pledge to prohibit secret ballots in leadership elections. They have at least 16 votes, and as many as 13 more candidates have signed on. They would need 25 votes in the 49-member Senate to change the rules, which have been a tradition since the unicameral’s first meeting in 1937. (Omaha World-Herald)

SAVE THE DATE: Join us for special election preview events with two of the nation’s most prominent governors! We chat with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 12:15pm ET. And we’ll welcome Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, on Friday, Oct. 21 at 12:15pm ET. Sign up at the links and we’ll send you a special reminder to join these free virtual events.

In Politics

WOMEN: Voters are set to elect the greatest number of women governors in American history, after the two parties nominated 25 women candidates in primary races this year. Massachusetts and Arkansas are all likely to elect their first women governors, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) would be the first woman elected in her state, after she ascended to the job last year. (Nebraska Examiner) 

By our count, women candidates are favored in 11 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and South Dakota. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is in a true toss-up. Women nominees are running behind in Colorado, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming.

OREGON: State House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R) holds a 36%-34% lead over former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) in a new Emerson College poll of the race to replace outgoing Gov. Kate Brown (D). Former state Sen. Betsy Johnson (I) takes 19%. (KOIN) Johnson is a fascinating character. She’s trying to appeal to former Democratic voters in Timber Country with a typically Republican message attacking Portland. (Pluribus News)

LOUISIANA: Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has formally launched a bid to replace term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) next year. He’s likely to face Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) and Treasurer John Schroder (R). Sens. Bill Cassidy (R) and John Kennedy (R) and Rep. Garret Graves (R) are all considering their own bids. (Associated Press)

ARIZONA: The Republican National Committee has filed suit against Maricopa County for failing to prove the county had recruited Republican poll workers ahead of both the August primary and November’s midterms. “The idea that a Republican recorder and four Republican board members would try to keep Republicans out of elections is absurd,” the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Elections Command Center said in a statement. (Arizona Republic)

ALASKA: Two liberal groups are pouring big bucks into a campaign against calling a constitutional convention this year. The National Education Association and the Sixteen Thirty Fund each dumped $1.4 million into the no campaign last month, according to new filings. (Alaska Beacon) Alaska is one of five states where voters get to decide every ten years whether to hold a constitutional convention.

By The Numbers

$268,000: The size of the contract awarded to Poolhouse, a Richmond-based ad maker, by the Virginia Tourism Corporation to produce a tourism video that prominently features Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). Poolhouse, as it happens, handled advertising for Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

$92 billion: The amount of money New Jersey would divest from fossil fuel companies if legislators approve a measure up for debate this morning in Trenton. The bill was first introduced in 2017, but it’s gaining new momentum now. Maine enacted a similar law limiting investments in coal, petroleum or natural gas companies by 2026. (NJ Advance Media)

Off The Wall

Colorado’s main government website went offline late yesterday after a suspected cyberattack by Russian-speaking hackers. Those hackers have claimed credit for recent attacks on government websites there and in Kentucky and Mississippi. (Colorado Sun)

Fat Bear Week is back at Katmai National Park, where the public is invited to vote for the bear that has successfully put on the most weight ahead of winter. The Juneau Empire has a good rundown of this year’s leading contenders. From @usinterior’s Instagram page: “Fat Bear Week is about body positivity. A fat bear is a healthy bear!”  

Quote of the Day

“If it dies, it dies.”

— Kristin Izumi-Nitao, a member of the Hawaii Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, channeling Ivan Drago as she voted to approve a recommendation imposing 16-year term limits on Hawaii legislators. Izumi-Nitao said she broke a tie vote to send the measure to legislators so the public could have more input. (Honolulu Civil Beat)