20 Top Politicians to Watch in 2013

1) Cory Booker - Mayor of Newark, NJ


Not only is the Newark, New Jersey, mayor a graduate of Standford and Yale Law, but he could be New Jersey's next senator and a potential Democratic presidential bid for 2016. Booker has saved the life of a woman from a burning building; allowed hurricane victims into his home; shoveled constituents' driveways upon Twitter request, gone on hunger strikes to draw attention to open-air drug dealing; and most recently, lived on a "food stamp" budget to raise awareness of food insecurity. This guy's more than just a public official. He's a superhero. Have you seen his 2012 Standford University commencement address?

2) John Kerry - Secretary of State (Designate)

     

Kerry's been nominated to succeed Hilary Clinton as secretary of state for Obama's second term. The senator from Massachusetts has been an activist in foreign affairs since his arrival in the Senate in 1985, chairing the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations since 2009. Kerry will certainly push Obama to intervene more in Libya but we'll see if continuous attempts at fostering dialogue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an indication to his effectiveness.

3) Michael Bloomberg - Mayor of New York City

 

The third richest politician in the world, Mayor Bloomberg has defined NYC for more than a decade. His most notable moves in 2012: banning soda, canceling the Marathon, and reducing murders rates in the city to it's lowest in fifty 50 years. Bloomberg is unable to seek re-election to a fourth term next year leaving many are wondering what the Republican-turned Independent's next move is. Does he stay in politics? His recent position on the NRA and gun control shows their might be a future ahead.

4) Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Associate Justice, SCOTUS


Generally viewed as the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, next year will be Associate Justice Ginsburg's tenth year and at 79, she's the oldest on the Court. Although she has no desire to leave and is in good health, she's been receiving pressure to leave or risk being replaced by a conservative after Obama's second term. Look for Ginsburg to promote some hot topics (like same-sex marriage) to the Court before she's ultimately forced to leave by 2016.

5) Tammy Baldwin - Senator-Elect (D-Wisc.)


Not only is the seventh-term Democratic congresswoman the first woman senator-elect to represent Wisconsin, she's also the first openly gay politician elected to the US Senate. This is monumental for the LGBT community and supporters of same-sex marriage. As a member of the House in 2009, Baldwin passed expanded hate crimes legislation and was a lead sponsor on legislation that extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. She will be the face of LGBT and diversity issues in years to come.

6) Angus King - US Senator-Elect (I-Maine)


Replacing the unparalleled political tenure of Olympia Snowe gives the former governor of Maine massive shoes to fill in 2013. Democrats finished the 2012 election cycle with a comfortable majority in the Senate, so King's pull as an independent caucusing with the left won't yield much. However, he joins a new breed of bipartisan constructivists who cite gridlock as an imperative obstruction to congressional efficiency. Can King's assignment to the Rules Committee help bring reform to filibusters in the Senate?

7) Deb Fischer - Senator-Elect (R-Neb.)


A two-term representative to the largest district in the Nebraska legislature, Fischer has been nicknamed "The General" for her tough legislative tactics and experience in the ranching business. As the long Republican woman in the US Senate, she better be ready for some strong opposition. Expect Fischer to be relentless on a number of issues in her first term, especially regarding the federal budget.

8) Luis Gutiérrez - Congressman (D-Ill.)


Nicknamed "El Gallito" for his passionate oratory and political dexterity, the eight-term congressman is a proven leader on comprehensive immigration reform and an outspoken advocate of progressive causes. Not only has he already started working with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on the immigration reform front, The Obama administration has stated they will be rolling out a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. There's no doubt that Guiterrez (- arguably the top Latino politician in the U.S.) - will be called upon for his knowledgeable input on this pressing issue.

9) Rick Snyder - Governor of Michigan


The Republican governor is certainly not a friend of unions after signing right-to-work legislation earlier this year, but Michigan also has the sixth-fastest growing economy in the nation. This made him a viable option as a vice presidential candidate for the GOP in this year's election and with his busy track record from 2012, look for him to be in the spotlight in years to come.

10) Tim Scott - Senator-Designate (R-S.C.)


Scott is the first Republican African American representative from South Carolina since 1897 and after serving just one term in the House of Representatives, the Tea Party-backed Representative was appointed by South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley to replace Sen. Jim DeMint. Scott's seen by many as an excellent replacement for the highly conservative DeMint and he be a unique addition to the Senate as only the seventh African American to ever serve in the body. Look for Scott to represent a small-government approach and a focus on reforming the Tax Code.

11) Joe Donnelly - Senator-Elect (D-Ind.)


As a prominent member of the once powerful Blue Dog Coalition, the three-term Representative from Indiana has notably gone against party lines on budgetary issues. Donnelly joins new senators like Angus King as a centrist Democrat looking for pragmatic solutions, and "Hoosier common sense." As an huge gun activist, Donnelly is already making headlines after announcing he's open to gun control discussion following the December school massacre in Connecticut.

12) Elizabeth Warren - Senator-Elect (D-Mass.)


The Harvard Law School professor was a Republican until 1995. Now, after ousting Republican Scott Brown, she'll be assuming the seat of the late Ted Kennedy in the Senate as a Democrat. Look for Warren to be a relentless progressive at the forefront of financial regulation and oversight of Wall Street.

13) Bobby Jindal - Governor of Louisiana


The Republican governor of Louisiana was the first Indian American in Congress after winning a seat in the US House of Representatives in 2004. Jindal is set to lead the Republican Governors Association in 2013 which - if he isn't already - will throw him into the hat of Republican presidential nominees of 2016. As a Hindu turned Catholic, Jindal is a poster boy for the GOP's new focus on immigration and diversity following a dismal turnout in the 2012 presidential election.

14) Chris Christie - Governor of New Jersey


A Chris Christie vs. Cory Booker gubernatorial showdown looked like a possibility until Booker decided to run for Senate in December. Christie now has a comfortable shot at winning his second term a governor of New Jersey, a state that hadn't elected a Republican public official statewide since 1997. The 2012 Republican National Convention keynote speaker helped New Jersey through a devastating Hurricane Sandy. What will he do to set himself up for the big show in 2016? 

15) Rob Nabors - Director of Legislative Affairs, Obama administration


Nabors isn't currently holding an elected position like the rest on this list, but he may in the future. The president's chief congressional liaison has a low profile but an immeasurable job. Republicans and Democrats alike trust him, which is exceedingly important at a time when bipartisanship is hard to come by. Titled as the Obama's "dealmaker" on the recent "fiscal cliff," Nabors will be highly praised if he can bridge the immense bargaining gap between Boehner and pPresident.

16) and 17) Julián Castro - Mayor of San Antonio, TexasX and Joaquín Castro - Congressman-Elect (D-TexasX)


The Castro brothers are identical twins and arguably the future faces of the Democratic Party. Both Julián and Joaquín are graduates of Stanford and Harvard Law School and have dedicated their lives, thus far, to public service. Julián was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and Joaquín is the soon to be representing Texas's 20th congressional district in the US House of Representatives. Besides the last name, Julián and Joaquín embody a vital spectacle for the Democrats. As Hispanic Texans with a love for Democratic values, the Castro brothers are bound for greatness within their Party in the upcoming years.

18) Rand Paul - Senator (R-Ky.)


The self-proclaimed "constitutional conservative" and libertarian was a viable option for the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2012. After his father Ron Paul (R-Texas) ended his off-and-on, 22-year tenure in the House of Representatives, Rand will most likely be the new face of American Libertarianism. This growing movement could help Paul if he chooses to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

19) Scott Walker - Governor of Wisconsin


The Republican governor of Wisconsin was brought into the political spotlight after proposing the "Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill" in 2011 which addressed a pending $3.6 billion budget deficit. The bill ... which passed ... changed the collective bargaining process prompting a large opposition and a recall election. Walker kept his seat; the first governor to ever do so. Conservatives are praising Walker for his resilience to Democrats and expertise in policy. Look for Walker to be a model for Republican governors around the country.

20) Barack Obama - POTUS


With the American economy on the upswing, is the best yet to come for the second-term president? Obama's to-do list is large in 2013 and the country can't afford a typical lame duck. A new world order is arising from the euro debt crisis, Asia is establishing itself as a powerful economic competitor, and the Arab Spring is still alive and well. Can Obama solidify all parts of the Affordable Care Act; pass comprehensive immigration reform; and bridge the gap between the White House and Congress? Maybe the more important question is: Will he hide the gray in his hair?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Logan Nee

Logan wrote for Mic from October 2011 to February 2014. He is now living in New York City. [logan.nee@gmail.com]

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