🚨Breaking: The Trump administration has posted a new rule that would allow Trump to block asylum seekers who cross the border illegally.
Situational awareness: A fast-moving wildfire known as the Camp Fire is burning out of control through the town of Paradise, California, amid a Santa Ana wind event and extremely dry weather in the area.
1 big thing: The final pieces of 2018's puzzle
All eyes will now turn to the deep southeast, with potential recounts and a potential runoff for extremely high stakes gubernatorial contests.
The big picture: Florida could be heading to three statewide recounts, and Georgia Democrats are prepared to use litigation as they search for the roughly 25,000 votes needed to force a gubernatorial runoff.
- Kemp currently has 50.3% of the vote, per the AP, and must finish with a clean majority to prevent a runoff.
- The race has been marred by allegations of voter suppression and conflicts of interest, with Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams pledging Tuesday night not to concede to Kemp until "every vote gets counted."
And in Florida: "These are the first statewide recounts since the case of Bush v. Gore, which prompted Florida to switch from antiquated paper punch-card ballots to touch screen machines that were soon discarded and replaced with the current system of optical-scan paper ballots," the Miami Herald reports.
- If the gubernatorial race maintains its current .47% margin, there will be recounts for governor, Senate and agriculture commissioner.
- “The recounts will be nationally watched … [we’re] under a microscope,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said on a Thursday conference call per the Herald.
The bottom line, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: The slim margins and the possibility that both Democrats could actually win these races in the end would be huge news not just for Dems in 2018, but for those with an eye on challenging Trump in the next presidential election.
- People have been pointing to Andrew Gillum's loss as an example of why Democrats can't run a progressive nominee in 2020. That argument would be weakened if he pulls out a win after the recount.
Bonus: Chart du jour
Even as the races in Florida and Arizona remain too close to call, the Republicans' performance in Tuesday's elections was enough to cement their Senate majority — all but ensuring Trump's record-breaking judicial appointments will continue uninterrupted for at least the next two years.
P.S. Trump won four of the six states where early voting in 2018 increased by 200% from the 2014 midterm elections.
2. What you missed
- There are new questions about Trump's decision to replace Jeff Sessions with Matthew Whitaker, with two prominent attorneys suggesting that it may be illegal. Go deeper.
- Fewer Americans are smoking: Only 14% of adults in the U.S. reported smoking a cigarette within the last 30 days — the lowest share in history. Go deeper.
- Trump blocked on immigration: A federal appeals court upheld a lower court order to block Trump's efforts to end deportation protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Go deeper.
- California mass shooting: At least 12 were killed, including a sheriff's deputy, Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks, California. Go deeper.
- Former New York AG Eric Schneiderman won't face criminal charges, the New York Times reports.
- 1 pod thing: Incoming Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who defeated incumbent Barbara Comstock in a northern Virginia district, was interviewed by Axios' Dan Primack. Listen here.
3. 1 fun thing
"If you want to get a Michelin star in New York, the first, best thing you can do is put the word 'sushi' in your restaurant’s name. Or at least make sure your menu pays homage to Japanese cuisine," Bloomberg's Kate Krader reports.
- "When the Michelin Guide announced its 2019 New York City winners on Tuesday, 17 restaurants earned new stars—and six of them were Japanese."
- Between the lines: "If there’s a cuisine Michelin does not favor, it’s American."