Morning Briefing: February 1, 2012

Mitt Romney won decisively the Florida primary last night, sweeping more than 46 percent of the vote, 14 points ahead of Newt Gingrich, who did not call Romney to offer congratulations. Romney will start receiving Secret Service protection on Thursday.

Nearly 60 wealthy individuals and corporations donated at least $100,000 each to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney in the fourth quarter of 2011, showing that Romney has “substantial backing from a small number of his party’s most influential and wealthy patrons.” The group took in $30 million from just 200 donors in the second half of 2011.

New disclosures show that conservative Super PACs are helping Republicans close a massive fundraising gap between them and President Obama. Obama raised $224.6 million for his campaign and Democrats in 2011, but outside groups that can raise unlimited funds, like American Crossroads, which raised $51 million, hope to shrink the gap between him and the eventual GOP nominee.

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici won handily over Republican challenger Robert Cornilles in Oregon’s 1st congressional district special election last night. The liberal-leaning district was vacated when former Rep. David Wu (D) resigned. Bonamici will have to run for reelection almost immediately, starting with the Democratic primary in May.

Chantilly, Virginia had a mosque vandalized over the weekend. “All of the mosque’s first-level windows and door glass were shattered by thrown rocks,” according to the mosque’s general secretary.

President Obama sent Congress a package of expanded tax breaks for small businesses in order to “spur entrepreneurship” and “to help startups” create jobs. The package, which includes a zero capital gains rate on small business investments and a new 10 percent credit for hiring or increasing wages, will be included in Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget that will be submitted to Congress on February 13.

Lower-than-expected tax revenues and $2.6 billion in overspending has California facing a cash shortage, and unless the legislature takes corrective measures, the state will be facing a possible seven week shortfall. Controller John Chiang on Tuesday recommended that the state delay some payments and borrow money to cover the gap, or else residents could see a delay in tax returns.

At his first Senate hearing as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Republicans warned Richard Cordray not to get used to his job. President Obama recess appointed Cordray, which Republicans contend was unconstitutional. “I can’t imagine how anybody could maintain…that your appointment and your service is valid,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE).

New filings reveal big oil fuels pro-Perry Super PAC. Oil executives and companies gave at least $1.3 million to the group’s efforts for former GOP hopeful Rick Perry.

And finally: Gingrich was the only candidate who did not call Mitt Romney to congratulate him on his win last night.

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