2010 Politicos of the Year

So, everyone else does lists at the end of the year. Why shouldn’t we? Here following, my picks for the 2010 Politicos of the year (in reverse chronological order).  

10. Suzana Martinez – NM-Gov

Martinez was a unknown district attorney when she took on Lt. Governor Dina Denish in a state that had not only overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2008 but elected an all Democratic slate to Congress. She succesfully tied Denish into scandal-ridden outgoing governor Bill Richardson and won. The fact she did so in such a Democratic state makes her acheivement marginally more impressive than the Republicans other woman-minority governor-elect, Nikki Haley.

9. Lisa Murkowski – AK-SEN

Ran won of the worst primary campaigns in history, followed by the first successful write in campaign in 50 years. The kudos she deserves for the later far outweigh the mocking she deserves for the former.

8. Jerry Brown – CA-Gov

The former and future governor of California survived the most expensive attack campaign in American history. Almost without breaking a sweat.

7. Kamala Harris – CA-AG

A rising star, and the first woman to win this traditionally conservative law and order position. It’s no accident she’s being compared to Obama.

6. Rick Snyder – MI-Gov

“One tough nerd” managed to beat out three better known candidates in the Republican primary and crush his Democratic opponent in a state that gave Obama a landside win. Good luck with governing it.

5. Rick Scott – FL-Gov

Just as Time Magazine once picked the Ayatollah Khoemeni as “Man of the Year” we have to put Scott up there as a politician of the year. He beat out Florida’s AG for the nomination, and went on to defeat the much respected CFO of the state, despite being acclaimed as the “Madoff of Medicare,” among other titles.

4. Pete Sessions – R-Texas

It’s hard to single out one candidate in the Republican sweep of the House races this year, although some (Bob Dold? Chip Cravaack? Bill Flores) stand out. So, I’m putting Pete Sessions as a placeholder for everyone, because despite criticism about the NRCC’s tepid fundraising he managed to do better than either the RGA or the NRSC, partially through being very agressive about targeting races. Of course, we’ll see how he does in 2012, when the landscape may not be as promising.

3. Marco Rubio – FL-SEN

Almost everyone (except Kos) was declaring Rubio dead in the water when Charlie Crist released his first fundraising totals after announcing for Senate in 2009. Now, it’s Charlie Crist who is dead in the water, and Marco Rubio who is the potential Republican presidential candidate.

2. Harry Reid – NV-SEN

Here’s how much respect I have for Harry Reid as a politician: I think he would have beaten any of his opponents for Senate in 2010. He’s that good – his commercials were some of the best of the cycle.

1. Scott Brown – MA-SEN

It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of the year, it was assumed Martha Coakley, as Steve Singiser put it, “is likely to be the first woman elected to that chamber from the State of Massachusetts.” Even after all that’s happened since Brown’s victory, it’s hard to come up with a more shocking political result in a long time (the only one I can come up with is Harris Wofford’s win over Richard Thornburgh way back in 1991). What’s more, at this writing, Brown seems to be holding on to his popularity. Because Brown became the early face of the Republican wave that would sweep most strongly in the House elections, but also in the Senate, Governor and all the way down to the state legislatures, I think he should be 2010’s Politico of the Year.


1. Christine O’Donnell

Oh I hope she goes to jail. I really do. Even then, she probably won’t shut up. But I do have to say: thank you Erik Erickson and all the Tea Party organizations who gave us Dems a freebie in Delaware this year.

2. Joe Miller

Would have probably one a place as one of the best had he maintained his momentum after the primary. Instead, he lost to a write-in. Ultamite choke.

Del Ali

The head of polling organization Research 2000 is not a politician, but he was involved enough in politics that he makes my worst list for this year. Hope Kos wins his lawsuit.

Alan Grayson

Republicans should send a big thanks to Grayson for taking so much cash from well meaning progressives to fund an 18 point loss – one of the worst of any incumbent this cycle.

Blanche Lincoln, Paul Hodes (tie)

I guess you can give Lincoln credit for beating Bill Halter in the primary, but considering she was chairman of a major committee (Agriculture) in the Senate, shouldn’t she have been able to keep this race closer than a 22 point spread? As for Hodes, remember back in 2008 when Kos told us Hodes would finish off Judd Gregg (or whoever took Gregg’s place) in 2010? Yeah, well Hodes lost by almost 24 points. That was worse than Lee Fisher, or almost anyone else in a supposedly competitive race.  

43 thoughts on “2010 Politicos of the Year”

  1. as he provided the 5th vote for the Citizens United case.  Certainly different then what Sandy O. would have voted.  The 527’s brought big for the GOP-money wise-and helped the republicans level the money field.

    Out of nowhere candidates for 2010 are LePage (Maine)-Ayotte (NH)-Malloy (CT-Gov Susan B where are you?)-Rand Paul– Ron Johnson.  That list tilts towards the GOP and does not mention several names listed above.  The democrats had a lot of incumbents or well known candidates so they do not make this list.  

    They do dominate the Zombie list or the list of candidates who rose from the Poltical dead.  These candidates were written off as dead or had approval ratings below 32degrees.  Deval Patrick-Gov Quinn-Mark Dayton-Bennett(CO)-Reid and Jerry Brown plus Jan Brewer to make it bipartisan.  They came from  behind or had miserable ratings and won.  

    Not sure what catagory to put Coons from DE in. Former  Lt Gov Carney who has a great resume and is considered a top campaigner with more name recognition then Coons passed on the US senate for a safe house race.  Oh well safe bets are nice but its better to be lucky.  

  2. I truly wish that man well. The people of Michigan are truly suffering, and if anyone truly has the brainpower to figure out a solution, it’s him. In my book, he gets a 1-year reprieve from my bashing. This is unprecedented for an incumbent Republican governor.

  3. Those are the two I’d pick, in addition to Reid and Martinez. Who’d have speculated a year ago that George W. Bush’s Budget Director & Trade Representative would win a Senate race in Ohio by over 18 points? I still can’t process it. Much like I can’t process that anyone with Rick Scott’s background could be elected governor of, well, any state.

  4. Should be on the list of winners. Alito may have enabled them, but they were the ones who did the dirty work (or paid for it, anyway). They own most of the Republican freshman class in the House, and even installed their personal lackey (Mike Pompeo) to represent their Wichita headquarters in KS-04.

    They also basically took over the entire government of the state of Kansas by quietly funding a massive Republican tide in the Legislature that pushed Democrats pretty close to Republicans-in-the-Hawaii-Senate levels. And Gov.-elect Brownback is theirs, unless the voices in his head that he thinks are God tell him otherwise (unlikely!).

    Want proof Brownback’s a Kochhead? He pushed out the state’s highly respected longtime budget director (put in by Republican Bill Graves and kept on by Dem Gov. Sebelius) and replaced him with…   a crazy gadfly policy consultant for Americans for Prosperity. Surprise! For those who aren’t aware, Americans for Prosperity is the Koch-backed, astroturf-y, hard-right, spoil-the-rich-eat-the-poor, destroy-all-regulation “think tank” that was primarily responsible for foisting the Tea Party on the American political consciousness.

    Sources: The Kansas Reporter, The Topeka Capitol-Journal

    And surprisingly, an income tax cut for the Kansas uberrich (which basically consists solely of the Kochs) now seems to be atop his to-do list in a state where a now-shattered bipartisan coalition in the Legislature passed an emergency sales tax increase to spare the state’s still-pretty-good schools from massive, crippling cuts (they still got cuts, btw).

    First, Kansas. Next, the world!  (…and you probably think I’m kidding…)

  5. You’ve gotta think that if Kos et al. encouraged people to split their donations four ways between Annie Kuster, Dina Titus, Tom Perriello and John Hall instead of flushing it down the toilet sending it all to Grayson, there’s a good shot that we’d have three to four more “bold progressives” in swing districts than we do now.

  6. A freshman appointee who pulled over 60% of the vote and is steadily building a brand of her own. Granted, her opponent wasn’t the strongest, but her vote total was impressive nonetheless.

  7. Michigan: Only gave Obama a landslide vote because McCain stupidly stopped campaigning there. Kerry barely won it 51-48, about the same margin as Gore (51-46-3). Snyder seems to disdain political theater enough that he should be a fine fit for the state. Might even do some good in spite of the party he ran under, and as everyone else has said, I hope he does. Michigan needs talent at the top right now.  

    Massachusetts: It’s true that Brown ran an excellent campaign, but we can’t ever forget that it was a low-turnout January special election and that Chokeley’s campaign could truly be a candidate for worst US Senate campaign ANYWHERE in the last 100 years. Without demeaning the guy’s political skills (which really are very good), a lot of his victory was due to circumstance. He’ll have a lot of trouble duplicating that victory in a Presidential year. The whole meme that “OMFG, even Massachusetts is electing Republicans” was mostly media bullshit. We can’t forget to keep perspective here.

    Similarly, Chip Cravaak and Bill Flores were both flukes who won their elections due to the nature of the year and the complacency of the incumbent Democrat, not because they actually did anything to earn it. Neither deserves so much as a mention here, as both will be unemployed in 2013.

    Florida: Nobody’s mentioned Rubio as a Presidential candidate that I’m aware of. However, the usual talk radio blowhards have been talking him up as a VICE Presidential candidate since he declared for FL-Sen last year. Wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve escalated that now, but he’s just been elected for the first time, he’s got the whole big corruption issues thing that would be an issue in a national campaign, and he’s younger than even Obama. He’d be a great VP pick for whoever gets the GOP nod, but not President already.  

  8. 10. Rand Paul- for somebody who campaigned for a Libertarian for President in 1988 and openly opposed the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, it was a feat that he managed to beat Trey Grayson so soundly. The general was essentially a done deal by the end, as long as he didn’t produce any massive gaffe (other than the Maddow interview, but Conway did a good job of canceling that out).

    9. Rick Snyder- I think it was already pretty well explained. However, he also had a great environment to run in, so it comes with a grain of salt.

    8. Eliot Cutler- Yes, he lost the Maine Governor’s race. However, he stagnated in the polls for most of summer below 20% and surged near the end, barely losing to Paul LePage (within 2%). In fact, a plurality of voters in Maine voted Independent- Indy Shawn Moody pulled 5% and Kevin Scott pulled 1%. He managed to raise $1.1 million (not including his self-funding) and some key newspaper endorsements. All in all, a good campaign- especially considering the negative ads taken out against him.

    7. Justin Amash- He was a freshman state legislator who decided to primary Vern Ehlers in Michigan. When Ehlers opted to retire instead of facing a primary, Amash beat back two more established politicos in the district in the primary and clinched the safe Republican seat.

    6. Tom Perriello- For those who say progressives are DOA in conservative districts, they should look away from Alan Grayson and turn to Perriello. He may have lost, but in this environment he did a heckuva job.

    5. Martin O’Malley- Despite the Republican wave, O’Malley still win by 14 points in the Maryland gubernatorial race. Yes, I know it is Maryland, but still pretty good against another former Governor from a better economic time.

    4. Tom Tancredo- Yes, his ads hit WAY below the belt to practically unconscionable- accusing one opponent of indirectly murdering a child and another of stealing from an innocent grandma. But he managed to put together a real campaign with significant fundraising in a tiny period of time. He lost with only 37% of the vote, but he had to deal with Republican Dan Maes on the ballot- admittedly a huge boon for Tancredo, but one he needed to organize for in order to exploit.

    3. Scott Brown, for obvious reasons.

    2. Ann Marie Buerkle- I don’t really know too much about her policies (I hear she got into politics as a pro-life activist), but her campaign seemed to be run well. She didn’t work off of a huge campaign warchest and was not considered a real threat after she knocked off the NRCC’s self-funding pick in the primary. Nevertheless, it seems her grassroots street cred got her a volunteer army in a part of the district that helped bring up her margins where they needed some help. She may have gotten a boost from Crossroads at the last second in knocking off Maffei and had a great environment, but mobilizing boots on the ground like that can be tough.

    1. Mark Strama- yeah, he won a state house race in Texas. But he first won this seat in 2006 from an incumbent Republican. It was once considered a relatively safe Republican seat, and few thought he would win in 2006. So it shocked me to see that Strama, a self-professed moderate who has some pretty liberal tendencies, survived the Republican massacre in the state house in a seat that only 6 years ago was not really seen as ever going Democrat.

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