ALBANY -- When Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Las Vegas in September, he was introduced at a union conference by John Samuelson, the head of the influential Transport Workers Union.
"I know I want to see him in 2020," Samuelson said enthusiastically. "I want to see him take on a national voice for the Democratic Party to talk about putting men and women to work, building infrastructure projects."
Samuelson's comments were conveniently included at the start of the video the governor's office posted of Cuomo's speech.
As the Democratic governor plans to run for a third term next year, his actions will face the scrutiny of a national lens as he is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2020.
Cuomo has downplayed any national ambitions, but he has stepped up his criticism of the federal government and President Donald Trump in recent months, and he has made more trips out of state this year than he did during most of his first seven years in office.
"Whether he’s preparing or not, there is no denying he’s a contender," said Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee and former state party chairman.
"If you look at who the possible candidates will be 2020, you’d be making a mistake not to include his name on the list."
For Cuomo, here's four issues to watch for over the next year:
Cuomo initially appeared lukewarm to running for a third term.
He said in 2014 before he won a second term that he figured he could accomplish his goals in two terms, remembering how his father Mario Cuomo struggled in his third term and lost a bid for a fourth in 1994.
But Cuomo has since stressed he will run again next year, using it to eschew talk that he is eying the White House in 2020.
"I’m going to run for reelection next year," Cuomo told reporters earlier this month when asked about 2020. "Being governor of New York is my dream job, as you know. And I’m in the middle of a very exciting agenda, and the state has made a lot of progress, and I want to keep making that progress. I don’t want to go back to the bad old days."
Cuomo’s favorability rating was 56 percent to 37 percent in a Siena College poll in September, and he had $26 million in his campaign account -- more than any governor in the country.
No Republican frontrunner has emerged to challenge him, but he also could face a Democratic primary as he did in 2014 -- which was a spirited run by liberal Zephyr Teachout.
There are also a series of corruption trials next year involving former top aide Joe Percoco and SUNY Polytechnic Institute Alain Kaloyeros that could damage Cuomo as he asks voters for their support again.
But New York hasn't elected a Republican governor since George Pataki in 2002; Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one in New York; and Democrats fared well in this month's local elections amid backlash to Trump and Republican policies in Washington.
"I think next year, it’s a better year for Democrats because the Republicans are not going to stop," Cuomo predicted. "The Republican Party now is run by extreme conservative zealots."
Republicans, though, see it differently, saying Cuomo is ripe to be upset.
"Governor Cuomo has his own longevity problems of corruption and mismanagement aggravated by his thuggish focus on pleasing powerful special interests and nursing his personal and now national ambitions," said state GOP chairman Ed Cox in a statement after the local elections.
After Trump, a fellow Queens native, won the White House, Cuomo mainly avoided direct criticism of the new president.
But that has changed in recent months amid battles over immigration, health care and tax reform that would directly impact New York.
In particular, Cuomo and Democrats have railed in recent weeks over plans to eliminate state and local tax deductions on homeowners' income taxes -- which would hurt New Yorkers because of the state's high taxes and blow a hole in the state's budget.
Political analysts said Cuomo is being pragmatic in his criticism of Washington -- while also laying the groundwork for any national ambitions. For example, he has twice visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island, blasting the Trump administration for not doing more to help there.
New York has more Puerto Ricans than anywhere outside the island.
"Could it help him in 2020? Yes. But if he doesn’t show New Yorkers that he’s looking after them both at home and in Washington, then he’s going to have a harder time in 2018, and that would be even worse for his prospects on a national stage," Larry Levy, executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said last month.
Since taking office in 2011, Cuomo has prided himself on working with Republicans who control the state Senate, which has helped with his agenda of being socially liberal but fiscally moderate.
Yet doing so has led to charges that he isn't supportive of a Democratic-led Senate, and that has led to backlash from liberal groups and public unions -- who Cuomo has struggled to court.
He narrowly won the support of the Working Families Party in 2014, and Teachout's better-than-expected primary run exposed Cuomo's weakness with the left.
Cuomo has sought to shore up his liberal base, urged Democrats in the Senate to reunite and has had better poll numbers with liberals -- aided by his record of increasing the minimum wage, expanding paid family leave and protecting abortion rights.
He will roll out his agenda for 2018 starting with his State of the State address in January.
He still faces the prospect of a primary next year. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and former state Sen. Terry Gipson are both exploring primary runs.
The group, NY Progressive Action Network, which helped Teachout's campaign, said last summer it has "publicly been seeking to find a strong candidate to take on Cuomo in 2018 and to unite the progressive wing of the party behind that candidate."
In his first term in particular, Cuomo shunned the national spotlight -- despite being the governor of one of the nation's largest states and being the son of a liberal icon.
But with Trump in the White House and the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean, Cuomo has branched out.
He has done more national television news shows, visited the Caribbean three times after the hurricanes, traveled overseas to Israel and made two trips this year to California to raise money for his re-election.
So far, Cuomo is often not mentioned in the national conversation for 2020 or, if he is, he is near the bottom of the list.
For example, a University of New Hampshire's Granite State Poll didn't even include Cuomo its survey last month of possible hopefuls. The one included from New York: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who got 1 percent support.
It's early, of course, to game out who will be prospective candidates, the poll's director Andrew Smith said, but Cuomo isn't someone talked about in the early primary state.
"I think there would be some older people who would remember his father, but I hate to break it to the people in New York, but being governor of New York doesn’t really mean much to people in New Hampshire," Smith said.