Each new year brings the opportunity to make brave predictions, safe in the knowledge that everybody will forget what you said by a year from now.
I certainly hope no one remembers my forecasts for the Washington region in this space a year ago. I had only 2½ right, out of 10. I anticipated wrongly that U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) would not seek reelection and that D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) would run for mayor. I was too pessimistic about the Nationals, thinking they would miss the playoffs. I was too optimistic about the Redskins, whom I saw going 10-6. (Yeah, I wrote that.)
On the plus side, I totally nailed the Virginia gubernatorial election, saying the winner would be "Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who benefits from a strong backlash against the first nine months of the Trump administration." I was correct that Metro reliability would improve, but the system would not get a new six-year funding deal.
Looking ahead, here is the ninth annual Washington region's Predictions Quiz for 2018. As always, the format is a multiple-choice questionnaire. It's a bit heavy on Maryland politics this year, because the Free State has a lot to decide.
1. In their primary in June, Maryland Democrats will pick as their nominee for governor:
a. Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who benefits from party establishment support and name recognition in the Washington suburbs.
b. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who runs as the "true progressive" and captures the imaginations of young activists skeptical of the party establishment.
c. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who argues he offers the most realistic chance to win in the fall.
d. State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., who locks up support in his Montgomery County base and catches fire with liberals elsewhere.
e. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who builds from an urban base in Baltimore.
f. One of the others: entrepreneur Alec Ross, former Obama official Krishanti Vignarajah or attorney James Shea.
2. The winner of the Maryland general election for governor in November will be:
a. Incumbent Larry Hogan (R), who cozies up to the center, keeps President Trump at arm's length and benefits from a flood of campaign contributions.
b. The Democratic candidate, who proves that all you need to win in an anti-Trump electoral tsunami is to point out that Hogan has an "R" after his name.
3. The winner of the D.C. mayoral election will be:
a. Incumbent Muriel E. Bowser (D), who becomes the first mayor since Tony Williams to win reelection.
b. D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), who capitalizes on scandals over United Medical Center, pay-to-play and high school graduation rates.
c. D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who jumps into the race unexpectedly when Bowser looks vulnerable.
d. A surprise late entrant.
4. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), in her bid to win reelection in a Democratic-trending district in Northern Virginia, will:
a. Defy the odds and retain her seat by keeping her distance from the president and showing leadership on fighting sexual harassment in Congress and raising funding for Metro.
b. Lose to a Democratic challenger who campaigns on sending a message of opposition to Trump.
5. In the nationwide competition to host the new Amazon.com headquarters and land 50,000 new jobs, the Washington region will:
a. Fall out of the running early because of high housing costs, traffic congestion and jurisdictional infighting.
b. Win the big prize, thanks to a highly educated workforce, East Coast location and proximity to the new mansion and newspaper (this one) owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.
c. Make it past the first cut and into the group of short-listed finalists but lose out in the end.
6. In the tortuous effort to obtain dedicated funding for Metro, the following will occur:
a. Virginia and Maryland will finally recognize that the District is right and the best way to fund Metro is through a penny-per-dollar regionwide sales tax.
b. All three jurisdictions will agree to provide funding in their own way.
c. Virginia will approve funding, but Maryland will fail.
d. Maryland will approve funding, but Virginia will fail.
e. Neither Virginia nor Maryland will okay a plan, and the effort will be put off until 2019.
7. As Virginia's new governor, Northam will win legislative victories on these issues (select all that apply):
a. Medicaid expansion
b. More funding for education
c. Gun control
d. Economic aid to rural Virginia
8. The winner of Montgomery County's election for county executive will be:
a. Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda)
b. Businessman David Blair (D)
c. Council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large)
d. Anti-tax activist Robin Ficker (R)
e. Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery)
f. Former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow (D)
g. Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large)
h. Somebody else
9. The winner of the Prince George's County election for county executive will be:
a. State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D)
b. Former U.S. representative Donna F. Edwards (D)
c. State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D)
d. Somebody else
10. The future of two of Washington's biggest sports stars — Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and Nationals slugger Bryce Harper — will be:
a. Both Cousins and Harper sign long-term contracts to remain with their teams.
b. Cousins leaves for another team, but Harper re-signs with the Nats.
c. Cousins stays with the Redskins, but Harper departs.
d. Both Cousins and Harper go elsewhere.
My predictions: 1. A. 2. A. 3. A. 4. B. 5. C. 6. E. 7. A, B and D. 8. C. 9. A. 10. D (but I hope I'm wrong). Happy New Year!