DAYBREAK DAILY: McAuliffe to retain Hazel as HHR secretary

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the upper 30s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Winning tickets sold in California and Georgia for $636 million Mega Millions jackpot; Senate to vote on budget agreement; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

HE’S A KEEPER: Another holdover for Terry, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe today will retain Dr. William A. Hazel Jr. as Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, according to sources close to the decision. Hazel, an orthopedic surgeon from Northern Virginia, has served as health secretary during the administration of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and become a crucial player in the debate over whether to expand Virginia’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

His reappointment, to be announced today in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, reaffirms McAuliffe’s commitment to expand Medicaid to serve as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians. Hazel enjoys bipartisan support in the General Assembly, and is seen as the incoming administration’s best chance of selling Medicaid expansion to reluctant conservative Republicans, especially in the House of Delegates.”

PULLING AWAY: Of Virginia’s AG recount, per the Washington Post, “Democrat Mark R. Herring continued to widen his slim lead over Republican Mark D. Obenshain in the race for Virginia attorney general Tuesday as the recount of the historically close contest spread statewide. Herring’s lead grew to more than 810 votes, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted, according to Herring’s campaign.

“Fewer than 120 ballots had been “challenged,” the campaign said, meaning recount officials could not agree on how they should be counted and will forward them to a special recount court in Richmond that will begin its work Wednesday. The Democrat’s lead was between 811 and 866, depending on how many of the challenged ballots are ultimately counted.”

TURBINE TIME: This time it’s Maryland, per the Baltimore Sun, “Federal officials announced plans Tuesday to auction the rights to build industrial wind turbines off Maryland's Atlantic coast — a move hailed by many environmentalists and some businesses as the first step toward a new green industry but criticized as a drain on household budgets by the state's lone Republican congressman.

“Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined Gov. Martin O'Malley at Baltimore's harbor to declare that her department intends to offer leases for wind energy development on nearly 80,000 acres of the Outer Continental Shelf at least 10 nautical miles off Ocean City.”

MAXIMUM MINIMUM: Or something like that, per City Paper, “Move over, San Francisco. The District is about to have the highest hourly minimum wage rate in the country, after the D.C. Council voted unanimously in favor of a bill raising the wage to $11.50 an hour by 2016. The bill, produced in concert with similar legislation in Montgomery County and Prince George's County, doesn't raise the wage for tipped workers. Despite backing a lower, $10 wage, Vince Gray will sign the bill, according to a spokesman.”

WHAT DID YOU KNOW?: And when did you know it?, per the New York Times, “The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the C.I.A. for an internal study done by the agency that lawmakers believe is broadly critical of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program but was withheld from congressional oversight committees. The committee’s request comes in the midst of a yearlong battle with the C.I.A. over the release of the panel’s own exhaustive report about the program, one of the most controversial policies of the post-Sept. 11 era.

“The Senate report, totaling more than 6,000 pages, was completed last December but has yet to be declassified. According to people who have read the study, it is unsparing in its criticism of the now-defunct interrogation program and presents a chronicle of C.I.A. officials’ repeatedly misleading the White House, Congress and the public about the value of brutal methods that, in the end, produced little valuable intelligence.”

FRANK WOLF: End of an era, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “U.S. Rep Frank Wolf (R-VA.-10th), elected the same year Ronald Reagan won the presidency, sent shock waves through the ranks of Virginia and congressional politicos Tuesday by announcing he won't seek reelection in 2014.

“Wolf's decision opens up the floodgates to a pack of potential candidates -- both Republican and Democrat -- looking to win a seat that's been comfortably in GOP clutches for more than three decades. Wolf hasn't had a single digit-margin contest in the general election since 1982.”

RYAN IN 2016?: Nah, per The Hill, “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a choice to make. The Republican Budget Committee chairman is the most popular conservative in the House, and over the coming year, he will have to decide whether to seek a more powerful committee gavel, launch a bid for House leadership or take a risky leap into the crowded waters of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“In interviews The Hill conducted with more than two dozen House Republicans from across the ideological spectrum over the last couple of weeks, many of Ryan’s colleagues said they are doubtful he will run for president in 2016. Most believe that concerns for his young family will lead him to lay claim to the job he’s always wanted: chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

POLITICO PLAY: “When President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, approached John Podesta a few weeks ago about taking over the high-aggravation job of White House counselor, the biggest concern wasn’t that he would say no. After all, he had already done so twice before. Obama’s team was more worried that Podesta would say no and that word of his rejection would leak, making the White House look feckless and desperate at the end of Obama’s brutal fifth year in office. So, the circle of people in the know was kept to a small handful; it was so closely held that even the perpetually plugged-in “Davids”—Obama confidants Axelrod and Plouffe—weren’t consulted.

“That Obama’s team couldn’t afford to suffer even the minor embarrassment of a possible Podesta rebuff is a measure of just how precarious things have gotten less than a year after the president’s triumphant second inauguration—and how much the White House could use the services of Podesta, the closest thing Washington has to a turnaround specialist for wayward Democratic commanders in chief.”

CHRISTMAS GOLD: Coin, that is, per the Frederick News-Post, “Some mysteries might be better left unsolved. On Monday, an anonymous donor dropped a 1-ounce gold U.S. Liberty coin in a Salvation Army kettle in front of Boscov’s on the Golden Mile stretch of U.S. 40.

“The discovery of the donation Tuesday marked the second time in four days that a special coin has turned up. On Friday, someone dropped a gold coin in a Salvation Army kettle outside the Giant supermarket on New Design Road. That coin, a South African Krugerrand, was valued at about $1,300, Salvation Army Corps Lt. Mike Michels said.”

EX-GAYS: Um, just the facts, per Gazette.Net, “A Virginia nonprofit advocating for “ex-gays” has filed a discrimination complaint with the federal departments of Justice and Education against Montgomery County.

“The group — called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX — contends that Starr made denigrating comments at a public meeting that hurt students. The group also said county public schools stopped a flier distribution program in middle and high schools, denying them access to students in a move reminiscent of the “1950’s Jim Crow South.”

HOOKAH: Such a cool word; anyway, per the Roanoke Times, “An opinion published Tuesday by the Virginia Court of Appeals is good news for Blacksburg’s popular She-Sha Cafe and Hookah Lounge and similar businesses across the state — at least for now.

“The opinion overturns previous rulings that stated She-Sha was not exempt from the regulations of the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. According to those rulings, because She-Sha serves food, it should be subject to the restaurant smoking ban and its requirements. But in Tuesday’s opinion, Judge William Petty wrote that She-Sha is exempt from the act because it is a retail tobacco store. The business charges customers for a flavored, wet tobacco that is heated by a burning coal and smoked through a water-filled pipe known as a hookah.”

RE-ROUTE: In Arlington, per ARLnow, “A new traffic pattern will be in effect at the under-construction Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard interchange starting Thursday.

“VDOT says drivers heading eastbound on the Pike will now have a different way of getting to northbound I-395 (toward the District). Now, instead of bearing right after the light at S. Quinn Street, drivers will need to wait to turn left at the light, onto a new ramp to Washington Boulevard. Those heading to southbound I-395 will still bear right onto the ramp after S. Quinn Street.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Caps lose 5-2 against Philadelphia.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Talk about getting into the Christmas spirit. After buying some toys inside a Virginia Toys R Us store, a mystery man went to the manager to offer up a good deed: he paid several hundred dollars to cover layaway gifts for seven families who were about to lose the items because time was running out. He emailed ABC7 on Tuesday morning -- with no name, phone number, or return email address. To see what he wrote us, click here:

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is former congressman Tom Davis, who will be asked about Rep. Frank Wolf's decision to retire.

--Skip Wood