The TAKE with Rick Klein
Yes, they (still) can. But it won't always be this easy, and this was pretty hard at that.
Democrats have every reason to celebrate their victory in Alabama. They can revel in storylines about new coalitions in red-state America, and about Republican dissensions and governing difficulties.
But their true battles have barely begun.
On cue, the push for a final tax bill gets urgent public attention today, with President Donald Trump speaking about it and the House and Senate conference committee meeting publicly for its first and only time.
Republicans will push to get their work done on taxes before Doug Jones is sworn in as a senator. Even after he does take office, Democrats will remain the minority party, with the majority facing new urgencies around getting work done.
Democrats probably needed a night like this to remind them of how winning is possible. But their memories will fade fast enough amid the realities of Trump's Washington.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
There will be a lot of talk about how extreme Roy Moore was, an outlier in the larger political landscape, but Democrats would be wise to take notes on the Doug Jones campaign and look closely at what his team did right.
In an era of big personalities, two back-to-back successful Democrats played it calm and quiet. Both Ralph Northam in Virginia and Doug Jones in Alabama were boring at times, plain almost, but two men who stuck to their script and marching orders. They were disciplined, hardworking and serious candidates with authentic relationships in their hometowns.
Jones ran a race Democrats forgot how to run.
He didn't flip flop on his issues. He was true to his principles and didn't pander. When asked about himself, he had accomplishments to list. Frankly, the people in Alabama already knew him before the national press arrived.
Jones' team celebrating last night said he managed to "thread the needle," referring to his work rallying the blue vote while also appealing to moderate Republicans turned off by Moore.
His team ran a sophisticated operation: Snapchat filters, texting outreach, ride shares.
The takeaway? Democrats would be remiss not to run serious candidates in every race, because they never know when the next Roy Moore opportunity may arise.
The TIP with Stephanie Ebbs
The EPA inspector general will review whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt misused any appropriated funds when he had a $25,000 "privacy booth" with a secure phone line installed in his office earlier this year. Democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the agency's watchdog to look into the matter in a letter in October.
The EPA has called the booth a SCIF, a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, and said Pruitt needs the secure line to make calls about classified information and communicate with the president. But Pruitt said it's difficult to estimate how often he will need it when he was asked about it while testifying for the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.
In a separate inquiry, the agency's inspector general is looking into whether the administrator misused any money in the course of his official travel. Pruitt took at least one chartered flight and multiple government flights that cost more than $58,000, according to information the agency provided to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in September.
The inquiry also includes whether Pruitt followed the proper procedures when traveling back to his home state of Oklahoma after complaints that he went there too frequently in the first few months of his time as administrator.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
A historic upset: Alabamaians elected Democrat Doug Jones as their next U.S. senator last night over Republican Roy Moore -- the first win by a Democrat in an Alabama Senate race in 25 years. With 100 percent of precincts reporting as of midnight Wednesday, Jones led Moore by a 49.9-48.4 percent margin, a difference of just under 21,000 votes. Donald Trump Jr. on the Hill: President Trump's son will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee today. This is Trump Jr's third interview on Capitol Hill. President Trump will make his closing argument on tax reform in a speech from the grand foyer of the White House today at 3 p.m. ET. Trump will also host a lunch with House and Senate conference committee members to discuss reconciling the two GOP tax reform bills passed separately by each chamber. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be on the Hill for a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing today. He's expected to answer questions on the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the election. On ABC News' Powerhouse Politics podcast out today, Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl chat with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"That's what we've got to do, is wait on God and let this process play out." –- Republican candidate Roy Moore, in not conceding the Alabama election to Doug Jones
NEED TO READ
Support from women hands Democrats victory in Alabama: Exit polls. Negative perceptions among voters over the sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Roy Moore handed the Democrats a rare victory in deep-red Alabama, with broad gender and racial gaps and vast shifts among typically pro-GOP groups in the state, including independents, moderates and non-evangelical whites. http://abcn.ws/2Ahv0mg What Doug Jones' election could mean for the U.S. Senate. Jones becoming the 49th Senate Democrat will likely have only a modest impact on Republicans' ability to accomplish their legislative goals, although his joining the Senate ranks will be a strong catalyst for Republicans to finish their major agenda items before he is sworn in. (Ali Rogin) http://abcn.ws/2iXsninANALYSIS: Democrats find winning formula in Alabama, Trump 'resistance' meets #MeToo. Democrats found a way to win in Trump country. And they did it against a candidate who sought to run the playbook written by President Donald Trump. (Rick Klein) http://abcn.ws/2AzRinkMeet Democrat Doug Jones, Alabama's senator-elect. He has worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, and was appointed to the role as a U.S. attorney by then-President Bill Clinton in 1997. (Meghan Keneally and John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2BYoiSgCongress skips chance to kill Iran deal. The White House said Tuesday there was never any expectation Congress would act on sanctions within the 60- day review period and that the administration is still working with Congress on a longer-term, legislative fix to the deal. (Justin Fishel) http://abcn.ws/2AfoxbmTillerson tries to quell anxieties at State Dept amid questions about his future. Ten months after taking office and seven months after beginning a "redesign" of the department that critics say has hollowed it out, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making a push to be more transparent and open and boost sagging morale. (Conor Finnegan) http://abcn.ws/2AQ3n4w Trump Jr's lawyer asks House Intel committee to probe interview leaks. President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, through his attorney, has formally asked the House Intelligence Committee to open a review into leaks during and after his meeting last week behind closed doors with the committee. (John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2iVjUfm Trump attacks Gillibrand after call for his resignation, suggests she'd 'do anything' for campaign contributions. "It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice, and I will not be silenced on this issue, and neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday in response. (Veronica Stracqualursi) http://abcn.ws/2BVypHA Court ruling: Transgender individuals can enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon is preparing to let transgender individuals join the military if they meet certain guidelines. (Elizabeth McLaughlin) http://abcn.ws/2jP1FJE Trump's legal team wants 2nd special counsel to probe FBI, DOJ for conflicts. Lawyers for President Donald Trump are pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the FBI agents who are working on the Russia probe as well as officials at the Department of Justice for any possible conflicts of interest. (John Santucci) http://abcn.ws/2iWUUoi Senior FBI agent removed from Mueller's team repeatedly called Trump 'an idiot.' The senior FBI agent removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team over the summer repeatedly called President Donald Trump "an idiot," and said the Republican Party "needs to pull their head out of their" rear-ends, according to text messages he sent to an FBI colleague that were reviewed Tuesday by ABC News. (Mike Levine) http://abcn.ws/2BZiU1oUSA Today Editorial Board: Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom? https://usat.ly/2yiYBJS The Star Tribune is reporting that Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will be announced today as Al Franken's replacement in the Senate. http://strib.mn/2j0vXID
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