2016 is shaping up to be an interesting and momentous year in politics. I can’t resist channeling my inner Nostradamus to make a few predictions. Please note, this is what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen. Here are my political predictions for the new year:
(1) Donald Trump will win at least two of the first three primary states but will not run away with the Republican nomination for president.
(2) The Republican presidential nominee will not be determined until the national GOP convention, where Republican insiders will work to influence delegates to vote for a compromise candidate.
(3) Mitt Romney will be drafted to enter the GOP race in the weeks leading up to the GOP convention.
(4) Hillary Clinton will crush Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in Iowa and New Hampshire on her way to the Democratic nomination.
(5) Bill Clinton’s alleged infidelities will become a major story of the general election.
(6) President Barack Obama will act unilaterally on nationwide gun control, daring Congress and the courts to stop him.
(7) The Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 decision, will repudiate Obama’s executive orders on gun control.
(8) Speaker Paul Ryan will face a serious intraparty challenger, and, if he survives the challenge, will be significantly weakened as speaker of the House.
(9) A downturn in the stock market will rock public employee pension systems throughout the country, adding hundreds of billions in additional unfunded pension liabilities that will further strain state budgets and turbocharge pension reform efforts.
(10) Sen. Orrin Hatch’s public relations blitz will continue as he prepares to announce that he is just too important for Utah to lose and that he will indeed run for an unprecedented eighth term in 2018.
(11) Sen. Mike Lee will cruise to re-election without serious challengers and will further extend his influence in the U.S. Senate as chairman of the Republican Steering Committee.
(12) Doug Owens will give Congresswoman Mia Love all that she can handle in the race for the 4th Congressional District, but Love will hold on and win.
(13) Gov. Gary Herbert, as chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), will be successful in reorienting the NGA toward state-based, rather than federal, solutions to local problems.
(14) Speaker Greg Hughes will continue to be hugely popular in the Utah House of Representatives and will become a household name throughout the state, setting him up for a 2020 run for governor.
(15) Senate President Wayne Niederhauser will continue to preside over and lead the most united Utah Senate in recent memory, cementing his legacy as a statesman of the highest order.
(16) The Utah Legislature will scrap Herbert’s budget and do its own thing, but public education will receive most of what Herbert has proposed.
(17) Utah Senate President Pro Tempore Curt Bramble will continue to shake up the National Conference of State Legislators during his term as president, firing openly liberal staff and bringing conservatives back to the table.
(18) Herbert’s re-election race versus Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson will be closer than people think.
(19) Utah courts will rule that the Utah Republican Party can kick candidates out of the party if candidates take the signature path to the primary ballot.
(20) The Utah Republican Party will not try to kick Lee and Herbert out of the party for pursuing the signature route to the primary ballot but will try to excommunicate individual legislative candidates who pursue the signature route.
For political junkies like me, 2016 should be a wild ride. Buckle up!
Dan Liljenquist is a former Republican state senator from Utah and former U.S. Senate candidate. He is nationally recognized for work on entitlement reform.