10 politicians to watch in 2013

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 31, 2012 

— From the halls of the U.S. Capitol to the Oval Office, plenty of political personalities will garner attention in 2013. Some have been in the spotlight for years, while others are embarking on the national stage for the first time.

Here’s our list of 10 people to watch in 2013.

Tim Scott. The soon-to-be senator becomes the first African-American Republican in the chamber since Ed Brooke of Massachusetts in the 1960s and 1970s and the first African-American from the South since Reconstruction. The South Carolinian joins the Senate at a time when the Republican Party tries to increase its outreach and image among minority voters who helped power President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Cecilia Munoz. The director of the White House Domestic Policy Council is likely to play a critical role in Obama’s effort to reform the nation’s immigration system. Munoz has long been involved in the issue – first at the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy group, and later as the president’s liaison to the Hispanic community – and understands the frustration activists feel by lawmakers’ failure to act.

Hillary Clinton. WWHD: What Will Hillary Do? The first lady turned New York senator is set to depart Obama’s Cabinet as secretary of state. After visiting more than 100 nations in four years, she says she wants to travel for fun, exercise and relax. But there are plenty of people, perhaps even her husband, who want her to run for president in 2016. Political observers will be watching her every move, especially to see is she is able to stay politically relevant and visible between now and a potential run.

John Boehner. The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives from Ohio fought with mixed results in 2012 to keep his tea party-infused caucus in line. In the midst of the fiscal cliff negotiations he was forced to pull his own “Plan B” proposal from the House floor because of a lack of support from his own charges. Some conservatives off Capitol Hill have questioned his leadership. Will he have a firmer grip on the speaker’s gavel in 2013?

John Kerry. The longtime Democratic senator from Massachusetts has been nominated to be secretary of state. Kerry will command attention merely because he replaces Hillary Clinton, a popular figure widely praised for her work by members of both parties. But foreign policy experts also will be watching the Vietnam veteran and onetime presidential contender to see how he aggressive he will be on the world stage in a job he had coveted for years.

Rick Snyder. Will the Republican governor of Michigan become the next Scott Walker? Signing right-to-work legislation has made Snyder a darling to the right and a target to the left as he faces re-election in 2014.

Wayne LaPierre. The National Rifle Association’s outspoken executive vice president is lobbying to put guns in every school following the massacre in Newtown, Conn. LaPierre’s comments, in which he blamed movies, video games and the media for gun violence, evoked passion from both sides of one of American’s most controversial issues.

Jim DeMint. The outgoing senator from South Carolina will soon head the conservative Heritage Foundation. As a senator, he helped bankroll tea party candidates, often to the chagrin of the Republican establishment. Soon he will be free of whatever shackles the party tried to place on him. How will that play in the 2014 mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential campaign that’s poised to be a free-for-all on the Republican and Democratic sides?

Terry McAuliffe. The former Democratic National Committee chairman, businessman and friend of Bill Clinton is running for governor in Virginia, one of only two states with statewide elections next year. McAuliffe, known for his booming voice, outsized personality and story about wrestling an alligator for a $15,000 contribution, lost the Democratic nomination in 2009 when opponents portrayed him as someone out of touch with state issues after a career in national politics.

Elizabeth Warren. The newly elected Democratic senator from Massachusetts won a hard-fought race against Republican incumbent Scott Brown in one of the most-watched elections of 2012. The former Harvard law professor who helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau landed a spot on the Senate Banking Committee.

Email: akumar@mcclatchydc.com, wdouglas@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @anitakumar01, @williamgdouglas

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