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Roll Call

Time for Rothenberg Annual Year-End Awards

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The demise of the Iowa straw poll won Stuart Rothenberg’s 2011 award for most noteworthy political development.

Each year I try to give my own awards for the best and the worst, the silliest and the oddest. There were plenty of strange developments this year — heck, the entire Republican race for president has bordered on the bizarre — so there is more than enough material. This year, each category includes, where possible, some strong runners-up, as well as a winner. If you disagree with my picks, please send your complaints to Charlie Cook or Chris Cillizza.

Worst Mistake by a Presidential Candidate
The runners-up:
Michele Bachmann — Confusing Concord, N.H., and Concord, Mass.
Tim Pawlenty — Dropping out
Mitt Romney — Wanna bet?
Rick Perry — Brain freeze

And the award goes to: Herman Cain — Uzbecki-becki-becki-stan.
As a general rule, it’s best for presidential candidates not to make fun of other countries’ names.

Most Noteworthy Political Development
The runners-up:
The rise of the weekly presidential debate
The firing of the chairwoman of Arizona’s redistricting commission
The retirement of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

And the award goes to: the demise of the Iowa straw poll.
Finally, this inane fundraising event that measures almost nothing worth measuring will be relegated to the junk pile ... at least until the next time the GOP nomination matters, when no doubt a bunch of silly but influential people will decide it is a big deal.

Worst Rothenberg Column of 2011
The runners-up:
This one
The last one
No need to be selective. They are all pretty bad.

And the award goes to: [Put your own choice here].

Most Entertaining Political Scandal
The runners-up:
ex-Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.)
ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.)
ex-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)

And the award goes to: ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). Not a hard choice.

Biggest Flop of the Year
The runners-up:
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R)
Brilliant Businessman/Investor/Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D)
New York Assemblywoman Jane
Corwin (R)
The Boston Red Sox

And the award goes to: Solyndra. How embarrassing.

Best Member-Vs.-Member Contest Created by Redistricting
The runners-up:
California: Rep. Janice Hahn (D)
vs. Rep. Laura Richardson (D)
Iowa: Rep. Leonard Boswell (D)
vs. Rep. Tom Latham (R)
Louisiana: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) vs. Rep. Jeff Landry (R)
Ohio: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D)
vs. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D)

And the award goes to: California:
Brad Sherman (D) vs. Howard Berman (D).
The other four races should all be entertaining and interesting, but this Democratic primary already looks like it will rank with the greatest redistricting fights, contests such as Rep. John Dingell vs. Rep. Lynn Rivers in a 2002 Michigan Democratic primary, Rep. Barney Frank (D) vs. Rep. Margaret Heckler (R) in Massachusetts in 1982, Rep. Bella Abzug (D) vs. Rep. William Fitts Ryan in New York in 1972, and Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) vs. Rep. Jim Maloney (D) in Connecticut in 2002.

Most Amazing Comeback By Someone Disliked By His Colleagues
And the award goes to: Newt Gingrich. By acclamation.

Most Boring Election of 2011
The runners-up:
Mississippi governor (Republican Phil Bryant over Democrat Johnny DuPree)
Kentucky governor (Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear over Republican David Williams)
Nevada’s 2nd district special (Republican Mark Amodei over Democrat Kate Marshall)

And the award goes to:
Zzzz
Zzzz
Zzzz
(Sorry, we dozed off for a bit …)
Louisiana governor (Republican incumbent Bobby Jindal over “others”)

Worst Possible Presidential Debate Moderator
The runners-up:
Charlie Sheen
Lindsay Lohan
Ashton Kutcher

And the award goes to: Donald Trump. The only thing more embarrassing than a Trump debate would have been candidates who agreed to participate.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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