8) SEN. KERRY MOVING ON TO STATE DEPARTMENT
After giving President Barack Obama in 2004 the platform from which he launched his star-struck political career, U.S. Sen. John Kerry was rewarded in December with a nomination by the president to become the country’s next secretary of state. For many reasons, Kerry’s pending nomination before his colleagues in the Senate vaulted into the ranks of the most important political stories of the year. Kerry’s departure from the state’s Washington delegation after 28 years in the U.S. Senate not only puts a familiar face into the position of the nation’s top diplomat, but promises a potential shakeup throughout the tiers of the political establishment. With Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren about to get sworn in to the Senate, and a new senator perhaps five months away from being elected, Massachusetts will quickly see its experience and clout level in the Senate drop to the least senior delegation in the country. Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his re-election bid, could have an opening to return, while Democrats will try to hold on to Kerry’s seat. Depending on whom the party nominates and whether they can fend off a Republican challenger, voters could be hearing about special elections for quite some time. U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, the dean of the Congressional delegation, was the first Democrat to openly declare his intention to run and quickly drew Kerry’s support. Other House members are mulling candidacies, and if one should run and win, it would open up a rare vacant seat in Congress that could draw interest from state legislators and others. The permutations are endless.
7) GOV. PATRICK BECOMES A NATIONAL NAME
Iowa, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In 2012, there was barely a swing-state that Gov. Deval Patrick didn’t visit to stump for President Barack Obama in his ultimately successful quest to win a second term in the White House. Patrick’s frequent-flier status – which his aides are sensitive to note took place mostly on weekends – helped stoke the speculation that Patrick could himself be a contender for the White House in 2016. Coupled with a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Patrick put his name at the top of pundit lists to become everything from a Democratic presidential candidate in four years, to Obama’s attorney general or even a Supreme Court nominee. The governor insists he is staying put in Massachusetts to finish his second term, which runs through 2014, and says he will return to the private sector, but he has never ruled out a return to public life someday.