Happy New Year! I’m wary of getting into the prediction racket since I’ve been wrong so often in the past. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 convinced me that I know less than I thought. However, I do have a few thoughts and, if not predictions, then possibilities, about what might happen over then next year. 

First, in North Carolina, the legislature returns for its long session, the last of Governor Roy Cooper’s tenure, in a few weeks. I think this is the year they get Medicaid expansion done. I suspect it will come with work requirements and will leave progressives wanting a more generous program, but it will be done. 

I also think the legislature will pass some form of medical marijuana bill. The momentum is moving too quickly in favor of legalization. With Virginia heading that way in 2024 and maybe sooner, North Carolina stands to lose millions of dollars in tax revenue if they keep prohibition in place. Enough states have legalized it without seeing any devastating consequences to move forward and I think that will happen this year. 

With only one seat in the house protecting the governor’s veto, I suspect the GOP will get most of whatever they want from the budget. With a number of conservative Democrats still holding seats in rural districts, Republicans can probably find somebody to buy off. It won’t be a budget that makes Democrats happy. 

In the next few months, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson will announce his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. He’ll be challenged by several Republicans, including Treasurer Dale Falwell, but Robinson will be the favorite if he can keep from imploding. 

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Josh Stein will announce his candidacy, too. Several lesser candidates will jump in the race, but Stein won’t face serious opposition. The fight on the Democratic side will be for the slots to replace Stein and Robinson. 

Nationally, 2023 will be good for Democrats. The economy will stay relatively strong while inflation continues to subside. The programs approved in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act will kick in, keeping jobs flowing. Biden’s approval rate will steady climb throughout the year. Sometime this spring, he will announce his bid for re-election. 

In Congress, Kevin McCarthy will become House Speaker after a very ugly week that leaves him very weak. He won’t survive the year with the gavel. On the Senate side, McConnell, reading the room correctly, will transition from obstructionist to deal-cutter. Still, there won’t be much big legislation because the House will too dysfunctional and too focused on investigations that only MAGA cares about.

Trump will get indicted and MAGA will continue to lose influence within the GOP. More Republicans will find the backbone that they lacked when Trump was in the White House. Trump’s campaign will never fully get off the ground. A slew of GOP governors or former governors will vie for the Republican presidential nomination. 

I guess those are more predictions than possibilities. I mean, I might be wrong. 

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