Though there were no major elections, 2013 turned out to be an eventful year. Between the government shutdown and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, there was certainly no shortage of major political news.
There were plenty of political losers, but there also were winners. Here are The Root’s winners.
The de Blasio Family
Bill de Blasio is gearing up to be sworn in as New York City’s next mayor. He soared on the strength of his strong stance against the city’s racially inflammatory stop-and-frisk policy and his telegenic multiracial family, including his black wife, Chirlane McCray, and his son, Dante. De Blasio’s family has been widely covered beyond New York media, in part because it represents America’s multiracial future.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Christie has been touted as a rising star in Republican politics for years. But in 2013 he seemed to really hit his stride. Thanks to the fall’s government shutdown, Washington insiders are out with voters. The loud and proud New Jersey governor loves touting his outsider status, and that is likely to make him a hit with some voters who have had enough with Washington.
The women of the Senate
During the government shutdown, few federal elected officials came out looking good. While some GOP senators opposed compromise at any cost, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., fought to find a resolution; and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., played a key role in reaching a budget deal with the GOP-controlled House.
Rep. Paul Ryan
In 2012, Ryan, R-Wis., was expected to become yet another political trivia question, since that’s usually what happens to failed vice presidential candidates. But Ryan emerged as one of Congress’ handiest tacticians, playing a key role in the historic budget deal reached with Senate Democrats. In doing so, he established himself as an effective GOP leader.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice
Rice became one of the Obama administration’s most high-profile political casualties when Republican opposition torpedoed her long-rumored nomination for secretary of state. But she seems to have gotten the last laugh by being nominated as national security adviser, an important role that wields vast policy influence but does not require confirmation from those senators who made it clear they would do everything in their power to block her ascent.
Sen. Cory Booker
It has long been speculated that Booker always had much bigger plans than remaining mayor of Newark, N.J. Well, Booker took the next step in his career journey by being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2013. He joins an elite club by becoming only the ninth black to serve in the Senate (only the fourth elected by popular vote).
Sen. Harry Reid
It was been a rough year for the Senate majority leader, with the government shutdown and opposition among the Sen. Ted Cruz crew making Washington even more deadlocked than usual. But despite his laid-back, grandfatherly appearance, Reid reminded everyone how he earned a reputation as a tough boxer in his youth.
Watt, a longtime congressman representing North Carolina, was another Obama nominee who seemed destined to never reach the finish line. But the president and his supporters decided to get tough, and thanks to the controversial Senate rule change engineered by Reid, Watt was confirmed as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Sen. Rand Paul
Reid and conservative firebrand Paul, R-Ky., have forged an unlikely friendship that has become a source of media fascination. Thanks to his tea party counterpart Cruz’s showboating during the government shutdown, Paul has emerged as the tea party’s voice of reason in the Senate.
Keli Goff is a special correspondent for The Root.