The past 12 months have kept us busy here at City & State, from the impact the Trump administration is having in New York to the elections and policy fights that were waged closer to home.

The next 12 months are sure to be just as action-packed, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo up for a third term, the state Senate once again up for grabs and contentious issues like congestion pricing on the table.

To get a sense of how these issues might play out – and what else might surprise us – we reached out to more than half a dozen political insiders to get their take.

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BRUCE GYORY

Democratic political consultant

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

I think the biggest political surprise of 2018 is that Carl Paladino after being humiliated in being removed from the Buffalo school board will come to see running for governor as a Republican as the salve for those wounds. I further think if Paladino runs, he will become the favorite to win the GOP primary due to his regional strength in Western New York and the heavy tilt toward upstate in terms of who actually votes in statewide Republican primaries. In turn, a Paladino candidacy will send shivers down the spine of down-ballot candidates on the Republican ticket. My runner-up for surprise will be if Democrat Stephanie Miner runs against Rep. John Katko for Congress in Central New York. If Miner changes her mind and runs against Katko, that race shifts from Katko being a strong favorite to win re-election to a race that will probably lean toward a Democratic pickup due to the singular unpopularity of the Republican tax plan, which Katko voted for, with real voters.

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

In terms of watching for up-and-coming politicians that I will be watching in 2018, I see three potential Democrats running for Congress: Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who is creatively challenging Rep. Claudia Tenney; Gareth Rhodes, who has been indefatigable in trying to win a crowded Democratic primary to challenge Rep. John Faso; and a potential candidate for Rep. Lee Zeldin’s seat – Kara Hahn, a Suffolk County legislator. Hahn is not yet a candidate, but if she were to run, those who truly know Suffolk County politics tell me she would be the Democrats’ strongest opponent against Zeldin. On the Republican side, if I am right about Carl Paladino shocking and rocking the GOP world by running for governor, that might just make Assemblyman Brian Kolb from Canandaigua the Republican savior as the one candidate who, if he ran, has the potential to keep Paladino localized as the favorite son just of Western New York rather than, as in the 2010 primary, all of upstate.

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

I think I answered that with Carl Paladino.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

I think it will remain state Sen. John Flanagan. Two reasons: Right now, state Sen. Simcha Felder, though nominally a Democrat, is committed to conferencing with the Republicans. That provides the Republicans with a scant 32-vote majority. There is no real pressure the Democrats can put on Felder to get him to give up what for him is the golden key to influence and power. Moreover, the state Senate rules require 38 votes to remove a majority leader midterm. Even if that rule were overturned (and courts tend not to cross the separation of powers line by making rules for a coequal branch of government), such a court case would probably last beyond the end of session. There are nowhere close to 38 votes to remove Flanagan as leader in the current state Senate. So the real question becomes who will gain a majority in the state Senate from next November’s elections.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Finally, yes, I think congestion pricing will be enacted into law in the 2018 session, in a bow to paraphrase Winston Churchill. The MTA desperately needs reliable long-term funding to bring mass transit, including the LIRR, back into a state of good repair. And of all the ideas out there to drive those resources to the MTA, the innovative refinement of congestion pricing put forward by Sam Schwartz will become the template, precisely because it is the one viable alternative that can be the right answer after all the others have been tried and failed to amass critical support – with right defined as a politically viable path to adequate funding. It was Churchill who said America will always do the right thing after it has tried everything else.

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CHRISTINA GREER

Political science professor, Fordham University

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

Regardless of who it is, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s primary challenger.

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

Whoever wins the New York City Council speaker race.

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

Unsure, dependent on what side he will be attacked on.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

Good chances it’s the Democrats given the current political climate, hopes it goes Democratic as well.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

It will pass, even though it didn’t under Bloomberg.

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NICOLE GELINAS

Manhattan Institute senior fellow

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Cuomo will push a congestion pricing plan, not because he's become enlightened about traffic, but because the MTA is facing massive deficits and there are no other sources of revenue left. The Legislature will pass it with some tradeoffs, but one big question is whether the mayor will cooperate. Without a redesign of Manhattan's crowded streets to simply forbid casual traffic on many of them during the busiest times of day, traffic will still get stuck at the pinch points created by lanes taken out of commission for construction, demolition and the like, and we will still have too many conflicts between pedestrians and drivers.

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AARON SHORT

Freelance journalist

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

More sexual harassment complaints come out in Albany, putting state Senate control into chaos.

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal. Revokes the 91-year-old cabaret license. Gets East New York rezoned. Pushes the Yankees to fix their safety netting. Sounds like a future borough president, doesn't it?

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

If Zephyr Teachout won't, then Cynthia Nixon takes the stage! Does she have Ed Cox's number? He has a closet full of “Nixon's The One” pins if she needs any.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, oh holy breaker of ties, after someone suffers an untimely demise.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Sure. It is on the table and the governor wants it. Now what about that L train?

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RICHARD BRODSKY

Former Democratic assemblyman and senior fellow at Demos

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

Democrats take Congress.

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

Everyone will challenge him. Harry Wilson will run against him.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

Republican/IDC coalition.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

No.

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HANK SHEINKOPF

President, Sheinkopf Communications

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

President Donald Trump annexes Venus, Venusians go blind.  

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres.

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

No one of consequence challenges Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

State Sen. John Flanagan.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Congestion pricing will not pass. Despite unnavigable streets and hacking coughs, electeds’ political guts will be interest-group-excised.

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KAREN HINTON

Former de Blasio press secretary, chief strategy officer at Fenton

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio running for governor (in the dreams of New York press corps!).

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018? 

Gareth Rhodes, running for Rep. John Faso’s seat in the 19th Congressional District.

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

Terry Gipson in the primary; Harry Wilson in the general.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

State Sen. John Flanagan – but look for state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins in 2019.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Some form will pass – but the subways will still be a straphanger headache ...

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BEN KABAK

Creator of the Second Avenue Sagas blog

What will be the biggest political surprise in 2018?

I think we’ll see three potential surprises in 2018. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will lose support of the City Council; someone higher up in state or city government will face an indictment; and the IDC story will reach a conclusion with New York state Democrats vowing to aggressively primary all of the breakaway senators.

Which up-and-coming politician will you be watching in 2018?

Ross Barkan’s state Senate challenge against Marty Golden is the one to watch for New York City in 2018. Barkan is a nontraditional candidate trying to run a very progressive campaign in a traditionally more conservative district against one of the few Republicans to represent the city in the state Senate.

Who’s going to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

I don’t have a candidate in mind, but hopefully, someone with pro-transit credentials who actually rides the subway and understands how Cuomo’s lack of interest on transit issues is actively harming the city and state.

Who will be leading the state Senate at the end of the 2018 state legislative session?

State Sen. John Flanagan. We’ll see if his leadership survives the 2018 election though.

Will congestion pricing legislation pass?

Yes. The subway crisis will become too deep for Albany to continue to ignore, but whether the right congestion pricing legislation passes (i.e., one that does enough to fund transit investment while disincentivizing enough driving to clear crowded New York City streets) is another question entirely.