With some of the biggest parts of the federal health care law in effect, keep an eye this year on Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he'll be in a position to apply some Darrell Issa-like screws to the administration over every glitch and every shortcoming with the law's implementation.
New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, is now the national hope of liberals looking to see how he reshapes America's largest city. De Blasio won the election touting the issue of income inequality with a sharp focus on expanding early education. But what sort of reshaping will the ambitious de Blasio do? Conservatives are skeptical. And one of his first orders of business -- to outlaw horse-drawn carriages that pull tourists around the city's famous Central Park -- has earned him early mockery.
The Senate campaign in Kentucky will be one of the must-watch contests in the midterm elections. And before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can even consider the general election, he will have to face off against Matt Bevin, a Tea Party-backed businessman, in the primary. No matter what Bevin’s chances, he will likely succeed in pushing McConnell further to the right. This matters in 2014, as McConnell is an agile last-minute negotiator in times of stalemate. How willing will he be to strike deals with Harry Reid when Bevin is looking over his shoulder?
Injecting new energy into the Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant – an avowed socialist – is already making headlines. She has tirelessly advocated for a $15 minimum wage at a time when national Democrats are trying to draw attention to the same issue. But will she be able to work with others on the City Council in order to advance proposals to raise wages, lower rents and tax millionaires? How "progressive" are America's municipalities willing to go?
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (and her pink sneakers) seized the spotlight in June when she staged an 11-hour filibuster to prevent a vote on a restrictive abortion bill. While the bill ultimately passed, Davis gained national attention and succeeded in mobilizing Texas Democrats. She's now running for governor in the famously conservative state. With incumbent Rick Perry not seeking re-election, expect some serious campaign money to pour into Texas.
And like that, it's an election year again. With the midterms now 10 months away, expect the politicking in 2014 to be even more pronounced than it was last year. Here's a look at five politicians to watch in the months ahead -- in Congress, but also at the local level.