Contrary to the opinion of most pols around these parts, the author of the Politics Column was a good boy (sort of) in 2013, prompting Santa’s generosity once again. And what should appear under the Christmas tree but a shiny replacement for the Politics Column’s old Magic 8 Ball, worn out after several years of weekly consultations.

Here are a few of our favorite oracle’s views on the politics of 2014:

• Will Carl Paladino run for governor again in 2014?

Reply hazy, try again.

If you rely on Paladino’s 8 Ball, the answer appears as “It is decidedly so.”

Indeed, Paladino distributed his own 2014 outlook a few days ago by predicting he will seek the Conservative line and catapult the minor party past the GOP onto the New York ballot’s Row B.

He also prognosticated that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will not run against a powerful Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And Paladino said he would refuse another GOP nomination if offered and that Chairman Ed Cox would end up carrying the party banner.

But there is lots here to cloud the 8-Ball’s answer. Astorino sounds very much like a candidate these days, though anything could happen.

And Paladino – the 2010 Republican candidate for governor – is by no means assured of the Conservative line. Though Paladino champion Ralph Lorigo – chairman of the Erie County Conservative Committee – at one time wielded enough clout in the statewide party to ensure Paladino’s nomination, he was weakened in last September’s committee elections by allies of Republican Sen. George Maziarz of Newfane, who beat a significant number of Lorigo loyalists.

Paladino has cultivated a host of friends in the Conservative Party since his run in 2010 and could still gain the nod, but probably erred in not changing his registration to Conservative last year to pave the way for a primary effort.

 Is there any reason for optimism in 2014 for Cheektowaga Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak?

Don’t count on it.

The veteran Democrat faces the roughest political road of his career after several female staff members filed charges of sexual harassment against him. The Magic 8-Ball predicts “It is certain” that his return to Albany on Wednesday for the governor’s State of the State address will generate a media frenzy.

• Was anything else behind the call for Gabryszak’s resignation by Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner?

You may rely on it.

The chairman is free to express his views on the assemblyman’s alleged transgressions, but the close ally of County Executive Mark Poloncarz wouldn’t mind Gabryszak’s immediate departure from the local scene. As part of the continuing division that dogs the local Democratic Party, some Democrats were encouraging Gabryszak to launch a primary challenge against Poloncarz in 2015.

The Ebony Orb on the desk of Poloncarz would probably reply “Outlook not so good” while posing a Gabryszak candidacy. But solid political reasoning backed up the theory as Gabryszak supporters recalled another assemblyman named Dennis Gorski catapulting into the Rath County Office Building from politically potent Cheektowaga.

The reply on that score now, however, appears as “Very doubtful.”

• Is Republican State Sen. Pat Gallivan setting the stage for his own challenge to Poloncarz next year?

As I see it, yes.

Gallivan could face real GOP opposition from the likes of County Clerk Chris Jacobs, County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw or Legislator Ed Rath III. But Gallivan has proved successful in several contests for sheriff and the Senate, and may already be laying the groundwork with a video he released last week touting his three bills to repeal the SAFE Act gun control legislation.

• Will political observers from around the state look upon Erie County as an oasis of tranquility in 2014?

Concentrate and ask again.