Florida Gov. Rick Scott, considered one of the most vulnerable governors in the nation last year, will this week be sworn into a second term and take his place in state history as just the second GOP governor to earn re-election.
Scott's priorities _ which are likely to be reflected in his inauguration day speech _ won't be much of a surprise since he is expected to repeat what he's been saying for some time now.
Scott will stress jobs, the state's economic recovery, tax cuts, as well as other key parts of Scott's re-election platform such as keeping college tuition costs down.
But key questions remain, including whether or not Scott gets any kind of "honeymoon" after his narrow re-election. And additionally, how will Scott fare with the distractions, scandals and other problems that loom on the horizon?
Any of these could be a test for Scott and his campaign-hardened team led by Chief of Staff Melissa Sellers. After winning by roughly 64,000 votes how much political capital does Scott really have, and more importantly, how will he react if legislators, lobbyists and other in Tallahassee start worrying about the next set of campaigns instead of Scott?
it can be argued of course that as long as the state's economy continues to recover that Scott has met his primary challenge and the one that he ran on.
But there's plenty of challenges Scott will confront in the coming year that could cause him problems and harm his eventual legacy.
Here's just some of them:
WILL REPUBLICANS REMAIN TRUE TO HIM? One of the most immediate challenges is what type of control Scott will retain over the Republican Party of Florida. Scott, with input from people like Sellers and former chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth, helped put people in place at the RPOF whose primary job was focused on getting Scott re-elected.
But for a variety of reasons there are those who aren't entirely trustful. With possible presidential campaigns for either U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush gearing up, those loyal to Rubio and Bush harbor lingering doubts about the party. Look no further than the decision to give the keynote speech in the party fundraising dinner to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal instead of trying to tap someone like Rubio.
The big test for Scott will come later this month when Leslie Dougher tries to win a new term as chairman of the state party. An early endorsement from Scott for Dougher did not dissuade Blaise Ingolia, a newly-elected state representative, from challenging her. Due to party rules Scott has a great deal sway over the executive committee, but a defeat of his hand-picked candidate would be a bit of a blow as he starts his second term.
ROLLING THE DICE AGAIN: Last year Scott tried to come up with a new compact with The Seminole Tribe of Florida that would allow the tribe to continue to enjoy parts of its ongoing gambling monopoly while giving a sizable boost to state revenues.
State legislative leaders made it clear that the deal would be dead-on-arrival due to the ongoing battle between other gambling interests, including those seeking to bring resort styled casinos to South Florida. Key portions of the existing deal with the tribe will expire this summer. Some legislative leaders, such as Senate President Andy Gardiner, have made it obvious that the end of this deal is not a major concern even if means the state would lose out on several hundred millions a year by allowing the existing deal to end.
Can Scott come up with a deal that keeps the tribe happy, keeps the money flowing into state coffers, yet can also get enough votes in the Florida Legislature?
PRISON DEATHS: Scott late last year agreed to give Julie Jones, the former head of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a $160,000 a year job (on top of her state pension) to come out of retirement and take over the Department of Corrections.
Jones is stepping into the post at a time when the agency is under fire for inmate deaths and allegations of cover-ups. Right now the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating dozens of inmate deaths and even today a legislative panel is expected to delve into all of the problems at the state's prisons.
Scott, who initially wanted to slash prison spending when he was running in 2010, has tried to keep his distance from the ongoing problems. But the ongoing investigations and problems with some of the privatization efforts pushed under his watch may put the scandal at his doorstep.
LEGISLATURE GOING ITS OWN WAY: Republicans who control the Florida Legislature went out of their way in 2014 to ensure Scott had a successful session as he moved into his re-election campaign. But there's been the feeling that it was an uneasy detente. Scott had a rocky relationship with many legislators when he first came into office because he defeated the GOP establishment candidate Bill McCollum.
Now with nothing else to run for _ right now at least _ how cooperative will legislators be? Gardiner has maintained Scott retains a good deal of sway due to his veto power. And there are reports from legislators that Sellers herself has tried to go out of her way to reach out to them in a friendly manner.
Some of Scott's priorities such as boosting school funding should be an easy sell to lawmakers.
The recent news that the budget surplus increased could also make it easier for Scott to get legislators to going along with additional tax cuts. But $1 billion over the next two years? Permanent elimination of taxes on manufacturing? A property tax constitutional amendment? Some of these may prove to be a bit more challenging once legislators delve into the nitty gritty details.
Other flashpoints could flare up as well: Gardiner himself during a session with reporters said that if there was a push to approve a new deal with the Seminole Tribe that he wanted a full-blown look at the operations of the Department of Lottery. Is that a sign that Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell could find herself in for a difficult confirmation process?
Will legislators also fault Scott for how his Department of Health has handled implementation of last year's medical marijuana law? Some Democrats are already suggesting that the department may be trying to stall implementation because there is an opposition to the law from within the administration.
Put it all together and it could mean that even this year Scott could have a bumpy session.
PUBLIC RECORDS BATTLE: Scott remains locked in a legal battle over how his administration handled public records that is just one of the reminders of how the former CEO turned politician has dealt with the state's open records law. The governor is being sued for allegedly violating the state's public records law.
Some may view the motives of Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews as suspect. But Andrews has been successful in many of his endeavors, including winning his initial lawsuit over a land dispute with the state as well as his defense of one-time aide Carletha Cole in charges that she illegally taped another aide in the lieutenant governor's office.
Chief Judge Charles Francis will be confronted with deciding whether or not he believes that Scott's office violated the public records law and did not timely produce records records for Andrews. The practical implication of an adverse ruling would be limited since we are talking about a civil lawsuit, but it would still prove to be historic if a judge found fault with the governor.
SCHOOL DAYS: This coming year Florida is expected to transition away from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and replace it with a new test intended to measure how students fare on the new "Florida standards" that are largely modeled after Common Core.
Common Core remains a radioactive term with some conservatives. Scott has tried to assuage critics by asking Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to convene a group to look at the standards once again. Meanwhile Stewart is also being asked to "investigate" the use of testing in Florida schools.
The most immediate problem is ensuring that the new test is administered smoothly and that there aren't any problems in evaluating the work of students.
But the continued focus on Common Core means that it will continue to a potential distraction _ and political problem _ for Scott and state legislators.
The other dynamic, however, is Scott will find himself confronting Bush and his allies if the governor tries to dismantle any of the main elements of the Bush's education reforms that were put in while he was in office.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Scott could also create friction with business leaders and legislators over his ideas for higher education as well.
Scott has pushed vigorously to roll back tuition hikes - and take away the power to let universities raise their prices. In his inauguration speech, Scott will expand that focus to suggest there should be limits on graduate tuition hikes as well.
But Scott's austerity pitch will come at a time when some universities like the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida are coming up with plans to expand their campuses.
While it's true tuition doesn't pay for new buildings, any expansion brings with it higher operating costs, which have to be paid from either tuition or state general revenue.
Schools such as Florida State University led by new president John Thrasher want more money to boost faculty salaries in an effort to move FSU into the ranks of the nation's leading public universities.
While legislators backed Scott's tuition plan during a campaign year, it may be harder for them to ignore the requests from university presidents _ and local leaders _ who want their schools to grow.
THE NEXT ELECTION: Scott has been fairly good at avoiding getting too involved in presidential politics _ or even other significant state and local races.
But he might find that difficult as both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 state elections begin to heat up.
It's widely believed that Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will seek the governor's office in 2018. Putnam and Scott don't have a close relationship, partly due to the fact that Scott has several times threatened to veto Putnam's top legislative priorities.
There are signs - like in last year's final Cabinet meeting - where Putnam has shown that he now has no problem challenging Scott. That could grow as 2018 moves closer and Putnam decides to show even more of his independence.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater may run for governor as well and may also be eager to distance himself from Scott.
Presidential politics could also prove to be a complicating factor.
When Scott ran for a second term, he relied more on Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie than someone like Bush. (Bush probably spent as much time or more campaigning for Putnam's re-election as he did for Scott.)
If Christie jumped into the 2016 presidential race against Bush, would Scott be able to stay on the sidelines after all the work _ and money _ Christie delivered to him?
What would Scott do if the Legislature decided to change Florida's primary date in an effort to help Jeb? Would he go along, or veto the bill?
And if Rubio were to bypass re-election and run for president what would Scott himself do?
Scott considered running for U.S. Senate in 2010 but opted instead to run for governor. When asked recently about his future, Scott said he ran for governor and has no plans to run for anything else.
Would that change, however, if it were an open seat? Or would Scott back someone like Attorney General Pam Bondi _ who he does have a good relationship with _ over other Republicans who also might be interested in seeking to replace Rubio?