The 2012 election over, jockeying for Nevada's 2014 ballot and speculation about who will run in 2016 has begun.
At the top of the ticket is Gov. Brian Sandoval, who already has announced he'll run for re-election in two years. The Republican is so popular that top Democrats may be reluctant to spend political capital and millions of dollars on a long-shot bid to unseat him.
Still, there's a list of possibilities:
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is the leading potential Democratic contender, a fellow Hispanic who might be able to draw off Sandoval's support among Latino voters to become Nevada's first female governor.
Secretary of State Ross Miller is a top prospect, too, but is considered more likely to try to replace Cortez Masto as attorney general. Both Democrats, like all top state officers, will need to find new jobs in 2014 because they are limited by law to two terms.
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who last week won re-election, has been mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate, as well. He confirmed Friday that he has been asked by supporters to run and would consider it.
"I get asked every day to run for higher office," Sisolak said in an interview. "I'm really humbled and heartwarmed, but we're still recouping from the election. For now, I'm just keeping my options open."
In the wings are Democrats such as Barbara Buckley, a former Assembly leader who decided not to run for governor in 2010 and instead focus on her family and legal work. A campaign adviser said she has $800,000 in campaign cash still in the bank, available for a return to the campaign trail.
Former Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid, who lost badly to Sandoval in 2010, isn't expected to seek a rematch in 2014, but the Democrat likely will return to politics in the future, insiders say.
He's the son of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader who announced last week that he plans to run for re-election in 2016 at the age of 76, seeking a Nevada-record sixth Senate term. It's no certainty, however. Much can happen in four years, both politically and personally as his wife, Landra, recovers from breast cancer and Republicans persist in efforts to take control of the U.S. Senate.
The fact that Reid, just days after Tuesday's election, was talking about his political future and insiders were buzzing about who would run for what next marks the nature of today's fast-paced political cycle.
"People immediately started looking ahead, jockeying for position," said Robert Uithoven, a GOP operative who ran former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbon's successful gubernatorial campaign in 2006. "There's no rest for the weary."
Uithoven said Democrats will put up a strong candidate to run against Sandoval because Nevada has a history of competitive gubernatorial contests with each party wanting to hold the most powerful job in the state.
"Having a governorship of a state would be a big deal, especially going into the next presidential campaign," Uithoven said. "I think the Democrats will be emboldened to run a competitive candidate in 2014."
All eyes will be on how Sandoval fares in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Feb. 4 and is set to last 120 days with the governor facing Democrats controlling the state Senate and Assembly.
Sandoval has proposed extending more than $600 million in temporary taxes in order to balance the budget and fully fund education, a moderate position aimed at preventing Democrats from winning higher or new taxes.
If Sandoval comes out of the session with his political stock still high, he would be tough to beat.
A Public Policy Polling survey last June showed Sandoval with one of the highest approval ratings in the country among governors, with 58 percent of Nevadans liking the job he has done and 28 percent unhappy with him.
In potential election matchups, the poll found Sandoval leading Cortez Masto 51-33 and Miller 50-28.
Pete Ernaut, a Sandoval adviser, said the governor is focused on the legislative session and budget, but also wants to help repair the Nevada Republican Party, which has been weakened by internal rivalries.
Ernaut said Sandoval hopes to strengthen the party in the run-up to the 2014 election, much as the late Gov. Kenny Guinn did when he was in office for two terms and Republicans enjoyed a winning streak in the early 2000s.
"The governor will present a formidable challenge for anyone," said Ernaut, who was Guinn's first chief of staff and adviser. "I think efforts to rebuild the Republican Party have to be led by the governor."
If Sandoval wins re-election, he might run for the U.S. Senate in 2016, possibly challenging Reid, who promoted him for the federal judgeship he left to run for governor.
Sandoval and his advisers refuse to talk about such a scenario. But most observers see the governor headed for higher elective office or perhaps a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court if a Republican wins the White House in 2016.
If Sandoval leaves office midterm, the lieutenant governor would become governor. That possibility has made the part-time office once held by the ambitious Sen. Reid more attractive in 2014. In fact, all five top state constitutional offices will be up for grabs in the next election, so political musical chairs are likely to ensue.
Here's a look at potential candidates:
Cortez Masto hasn't decided whether to run, according to her campaign manager Erin Bilbray-Kohn.
However, if she is the only Democratic woman running for governor in 2014 she stands to attract plenty of money, attention and support. Known as a tough lawyer, Cortez Masto has a high profile as a key figure in winning a national $1.5 billion settlement from big banks for borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure because of unfair loan practices.
Locally, she comes from a widely known family in Southern Nevada. Her father is the late Manny Cortez, a former Clark County commissioner and longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
If Cortez Masto sits out 2014, perhaps waiting for a clearer shot in 2016, Miller might be recruited by the Democratic Party, or Buckley might be called up. An attorney, Buckley runs the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, but hasn't ruled out returning to politics.
Sisolak said he would make his own decision, no matter what Cortez Masto or Miller do. Outspoken and wealthy, Sisolak could give Sandoval a lively run.
Miller is planning fundraisers as soon as March to begin building a campaign war chest, according to an adviser. The son of former Gov. Bob Miller, he aspires to follow in his father's footsteps, but is just 36 and in no hurry, said those close to him. Known for cracking down on voter registration fraud in 2008, Miller also has pushed campaign finance reform to require more public reporting by candidates. He also has streamlined business licensing. And he is a heavy social media user, connecting personally with thousands of voters.
On the Republican side, newly elected state Sens. Greg Brower and Mark Hutchison are considered top prospects. They would both be in the middle of four-year Senate terms. Brower is a former U.S. attorney for Nevada. Hutchison represented Nevada in challenging President Barack Obama's health care law in federal court.
Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki cannot run again because of term limits. The job is part-time and has taken on less importance since Sandoval created a separate economic development agency and put Steve Hill in charge. The lieutenant governor now mostly handles tourism and acts as president of the state Senate.
But the lieutenant governor is in line to become governor, and the office can be a stepping stone.
Hill is considered a potential prospect for the office. Should he win the job, he might be allowed to continue leading economic development, which could raise his profile if the Nevada economy and jobs come back.
Heidi Gansert, who was Sandoval's first chief of staff, also might run. A former member of the Assembly, Gansert is popular and a hard worker who won plaudits in the governor's office. Sandoval and Gansert are close, having known one another since high school, so Sandoval could sway her.
Gansert just took a job at the University of Nevada, Reno, but may be able to keep it and serve as a part-time lieutenant governor, too.
On the Democratic side, Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall is a possible contender. A stalwart Democrat, she lost a special House election in 2011 to Mark Amodei, who won a full term on Tuesday. But the Northern and rural Nevada district is heavily Republican, and she was never expected to win the seat.
John Hunt, a former Clark County Democratic Party chairman, has been mentioned as a possible candidate. He recently was a finalist to become the Clark County district attorney, but lost to Steve Wolfson.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican Lt. Gov. Krolicki is a possible candidate if he wants to stay in state government. State Sen. Michael Roberson, the new GOP minority leader, has been mentioned as a potential contender, although he may be more interested in continuing to pursue a Republican takeover of the state Senate, which Democrats control 11 seats to 10.
State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, a GOP policy leader in the Legislature's upper chamber, is mentioned as a potential candidate either for this office or for another state constitutional post open in 2014.
State Sen. Barabara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, can't run for re-election in 2014 because of term limits. GOP supporters have approached her about running for secretary of state or lieutenant governor. This year, Cegavske lost a GOP House primary to Danny Tarkanian, who lost to Democrat Steven Horsford last week.
On the Democratic side, Treasurer Marshall's name also has been mentioned most for this post.
State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who abandoned a House race this year, is a potential candidate for this or some other higher office if he does well during the 2013 legislative session. Fellow Democrats elected the Hispanic lawmaker as Democratic National Committeeman this year, giving him a position of power in the party.
OTHER OFFICES AND CONTENDERS
State Controller Kim Wallin, who can't run for re-election because of term limits, is considering a run for state treasurer, party insiders say.
It's also possible candidates who lost races in 2012 look to make comebacks two years later.
Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who lost a close state Senate race to Brower in Reno, might consider running for office again, either at the local or state level.
But others who lost Tuesday said they're done with politics and public life.
"My family and I are going to step out away from it and move on with our lives," Tarkanian said.
One politician considering a bid for a state office said the decision to run - or not - often is based on timing.
"Sometimes there are windows or doors that open and you just go through," the potential candidate explained.
Contact Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.