Awards for the Best and Worst of Politics in 2013

Stuart Rothenberg December 12, 2013 · 9:33 AM EST

Yes, folks, it’s time again for my end-of-the-year awards. It’s been a weird year, but face it: Weird is the new normal in politics.

Eight weeks ago, everyone was talking about the shutdown. A month ago, it was the launch of Obamacare. Now it’s, well, I’m not sure. In early October, it looked as if John A. Boehner’s speakership might not survive the year. And now, many are wondering how Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has survived this long.

I nominated a number of formidable contenders for each category before picking my own winner. If you don’t agree and would like to complain, please send a single-spaced letter outlining your reasons for disagreeing with my selection (along with citations to support your argument) to Edward Snowden. Just leave my name out of it.

Worst Political Decision of 2013

The nominees:


And the winner is … anything to do with Anthony Weiner. Take your pick.

Biggest Surprise of 2013

The nominees:


And the winner is … Alabama-Auburn, of course. On the other hand, the year isn’t over quite yet, so I’m still in the running.

Most Vulnerable Incumbent Up in 2014

The nominees:


And the winner is … all of the incumbents on this list are in deep trouble, but the one most likely to lose is DesJarlais. (I don’t handicap Canadian contests.)

My Most “Interesting” Candidate Interview of 2013

The nominees:

And the winner is … in the eye of the beholder, right? I’m not beholding right now. Come back at the end of 2014 for an answer, after I’ve interviewed more candidates.

Biggest Story of 2013

The nominees:


And the winner is … University of Connecticut women win their eighth basketball title, routing Louisville 93-60. It’s my column. I’ll pick who I want. If you don’t like it, get your own damn column.

Phrases You Should Never Utter

The nominees:


And the winner is … “It’s my column. I’ll pick who I want. If you don’t like it, get your own damn column.”

The Most Ridiculous Campaign of 2013

The nominees:


And the winner is … Well, it’s not Buono, who was abandoned by her party. Colbert Busch wasn’t entirely ready for prime time, but the district was against her. Neither Jackson nor Lonegan had a chance from the start, so their campaigns were irrelevant. That would seem to eliminate them. So, on a write-in, the award goes to the delusional delegates of the Virginia Republican convention, who kicked away the state’s number two office by nominating a candidate who never had a chance. Smart move, guys.

Biggest Mistake of 2013

The nominees:


And the winner is … changing the filibuster. The slide down the slippery slope has begun. Congratulations, the Senate is now on its way to becoming more like the House. That should encourage cooperation and compromise. But those Senate retirements — and the loss of both institutional knowledge and some thoughtful senators — are really, really depressing.