When the 113th Congress is commenced in January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to unite his caucus. With a mixed bag of priorities, and a handful of more moderate members focusing on getting re-elected in 2014, that could prove taxing.
"Leader Reid has a difficult task and I think the president is going to be looking to define his legacy," Gonzalez said. "I think he is going to try to get something big done that is going to have political consequences. The ones who have the most on the line are the people who will face voters in the midterm."
Jim Manley, who used to work as the chief spokesman for Reid, said he expects that the majority leader is going to go out of his way to make sure every Democrat feels comfortable with each vote.
"There are different ways to juggle votes," Manley said. "In the end, Reid understands that they have to do what they have to do to get re-elected. Reid understands that they need to do what they have to do to represent their constituents."
After all, Manley pointed out, Reid has had to do this ever since becoming majority leader in 2006.
"He spent the last couple of years juggling the competing concerns of (moderates) Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson against the demands of (progressives) Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders."
Begich says he assured Reid before the 2012 elections that he is ready to take hard votes and that the leader doesn't have to worry about putting him in a tough spot. Even so, said a confident Begich, he likes where he is two years out from the election.
"Some of the guys who were running for re-election (in 2012) had to moderate in my direction," Begich said. "I came in with these positions already because that is who I am."