WHAT'S NEXT?

Dodged bullet or no, that investigation could make for a rough couple of years ahead for Murray if she does win re-election.

Meanwhile, she would be a lame duck, as will the governor, and the state's recession-dwindled finances will be slow to recover. Most observers expect little of substance from the 2013-2014 session.

It makes you wonder why Murray is even bothering to run again.

The answer, most State House observers say, lies somewhere in her post-presidency plans — but nobody knows what those might be.

At 65, she is too powerful, and too driven, to be thinking of simply retiring. Most people I talk to doubt that she wants to follow her predecessor Tom Birmingham's example, and turn all-purpose lobbyist. But they have no idea what she does want to do next.

Her options might be very different, depending on whether she remains top dog in the Senate or gets sent home by the voters. It may be her last election, but it might also be one of her most important.

DBERNSTEIN@PHX.COM :: @DBERNSTEIN

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