The Year's Best Campaigns
Welcome back to The Hotline's "Year In Review" features. So far, we've brought you the Year In Scandals, the Year In Upsets, the Year In Surprise Stars, the Year In Media and the Year In Forgettable Candidates.
We now turn to the highlights of the 2010 cycle: The best campaigns. From candidates who overcame what appeared to be insurmountable odds to ones who burst onto the political scene seemingly from nowhere, 2010 was full of campaigns to remember. Here's a look at the ones that stood out to us.
Any discussion of the top campaigns of the cycle has to begin with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. At the beginning of the year, there were simply too many reasons why the Nevada Democrat could -- and should -- lose: sky-high unemployment in his state, a Republican atmosphere and pitiful poll numbers. Reid got a break with Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle emerged from the Republican primary, but he still appeared to be in deep trouble. Reid had a particularly poor debate performance, polls in the weeks leading up to Election Day showed Reid down four points and virtually every prognosticator -- with the exception of Nevada politics guru Jon Ralston -- said Reid was done. But Reid's campaign proved all the naysayers wrong on Election Day, and the Democrat returned to the Senate.
The writing also looked on the wall for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski lost the Republican primary in shocking fashion to attorney Joe Miller, who, like Angle, was backed by the Tea Party Express. But Murkowski didn't back down, launching a write-in campaign that appeared to be a long-shot. Along the way, Miller had several missteps while Murkowski used clever ads and campaign tactics to make sure voters knew how to spell her name. Murkowski quickly claimed an insurmountable lead on Election Day and made Miller look foolish as he continued to press his case in court despite lacking a path to victory. And along the way Murkowski earned newfound independence from the Republican Party, something she has displayed since returning to Washington.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) Senate campaign is best described as a roller coaster. Because of his sky high popularity, Manchin entered the race for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) seat as the frontrunner by a mile. But Republican John Raese used his millions to effectively tie Manchin to Pres. Obama, who is very unpopular in West Virginia. Manchin righted the ship, however, with a powerful ad that showed him firing a rifle at cap-and-trade energy legislation -- a move that demonstrated his independence from the Democratic Party. Manchin went on to win by double digits but appears to still be riding a roller coaster of sorts. He recently had to apologize for skipping some of his first votes as a senator.