State Sen. John DeFrancisco, two contested congressional races, an upset in a Syracuse-area state legislative race and a change in Onondaga County's leadership.
If there's one thing you can say about 2018 it's that it was a busy year for central New York's political scene.
Here is the list of Eye on NY's top 5 central New York political stories of 2018:
5. Mahoney out, McMahon in
Joanie Mahoney's departure from Onondaga County government was one of the biggest news stories of the year. Mahoney served as county executive from 2008 until November, when she left her post to take a new job with the state.
Mahoney is now serving as chief operating officer of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. She's also an adviser to SUNY Upstate Medical University.
With Mahoney's exit, Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon became the leading candidate to become county executive. McMahon's fellow county legislators voted to appoint him as county executive. He will serve out the remainder of the term, which expires at the end of 2019.
McMahon has already sought to make an impact. He has held town hall meetings across Onondaga County and he's pledged to focus on economic development, infrastructure and poverty.
4. May upsets Valesky to win Democratic primary
Syracuse University administrator Rachel May surprised the central New York political establishment by defeating state Sen. David Valesky in the Democratic primary for the 53rd state Senate District seat.
May was able to tap into progressive enthusiasm and a desire to unseat ex-members of the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference. (Valesky was a founding member of the IDC.) Valesky put his war chest to use and unsuccessfully tried to fend off the grassroots challenge mounted by May.
After defeating Valesky in the primary, May won the general election by a comfortable margin. In 2019, she will head to Albany to represent parts of Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties.
3. Brindisi beats Tenney in hard-fought election
It was the most contentious congressional election in New York and one of the biggest races in the country. Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a freshman, faced off against Democratic state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.
The prize for the winner: The right to represent the 22nd Congressional District for the next two years.
Tenney received support from conservatives and President Donald Trump. Members of Trump's family appeared alongside her in the days leading up to the election. Despite her attempts to tap into the Trump base, Brindisi outlasted Tenney by taking a more moderate position and running a well-funded, grassroots campaign.
The race was close after the election night tally found Brindisi leading by less than 1,300 votes. But the absentee ballots expanded his lead, and Tenney conceded.
In January, Brindisi will head to Washington to represent the 22nd district.
2. NY-24 race: Balter vs. Perez Williams, then Katko vs. Balter
For months, the 24th Congressional District race generated plenty of headlines and interest.
First, there was the primary. It appeared Dana Balter would be the Democratic nominee and focus her attention on Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko. But in the final days of the petitioning process, former Syracuse mayoral candidate Juanita Perez Williams launched her campaign for the Democratic nod with the support of national Democrats.
The move didn't really split local Democrats, though. They were united behind Balter, and it showed in the June primary. Balter defeated Perez Williams by 25 points to secure the Democratic nomination.
The end of the primary marked the launch of a surprisingly competitive general election campaign. Balter showcased her strength as a challenger by raising a record $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. She targeted Katko on health care, taxes and his voting record.
Katko, who already amassed a large war chest, spent millions to define Balter as too extreme for the district. He touted his record as an independent thinker with a moderate voting record.
Polls showed Katko with a double-digit lead, but it was much closer. Katko defeated Balter by six points to win a third term representing the 24th district.
1. DeFrancisco runs for governor — then announces retirement
Longtime state Sen. John DeFrancisco announced his retirement after a brief but spirited campaign for governor.
DeFrancisco hinted in 2017 that he would run for governor. In January, he made it official: He would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
After Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb bowed out of the gubernatorial campaign, it appeared DeFrancisco was the favorite to win the GOP nod. But that changed when Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who initially said he wouldn't be a candidate for governor, reconsidered and entered the race. Party leaders coalesced behind Molinaro.
Not long after Molinaro's entrance, DeFrancisco suspended his campaign.
Before launching his gubernatorial campaign, DeFrancisco said he would likely retire from the state Legislature no matter the outcome. After exiting the race for governor, he confirmed the he wouldn't seek re-election to the state Senate.
The decision meant the end of a 25-year career in the Senate. He was a school board member and Syracuse city councilor before being elected to state government.
During his time as a state senator, DeFrancisco chaired the powerful Senate Finance Committee and became one of the leading upstate voices in the state Legislature. He helped secure funding for numerous initiatives and projects in central New York, and he authored several bills that were signed into law by five governors.
In 2015, DeFrancisco ran for Senate majority leader. He lost the race to state Sen. John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican. But Flanagan named DeFrancisco deputy majority leader, a post he continued to hold for three more years.
With DeFrancisco retiring, central New York loses a senior leader and an influential voice in state government.