2011's Top Breakout Stars
Happy New Year's Eve and welcome back to our series of year end posts/recaps (see our takes on 2011's Biggest Flops, Luckiest Candidates, Top Comeback Kids, The Year in Media, and the Biggest Twitter Losers). Here's a NYE bonus helping: The year's biggest breakout stars in statewide races.
These are candidates who were not household names at the beginning of the year, and in some cases were not even on the list of potential candidates being discussed. For all of them, however, 2012 will be a big test, and if they do not deliver, 2011 could be all for naught.
5) Bill Maloney: It might seem out of place to list a candidate who came up short in his general election bid on this list, but the West Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee shouldn't feel bad at all about the year he had.
He came from nowhere to upset the favorite in the GOP primary, former Secretary of State Betty Ireland and waged an impressive general election bid against Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
He also won the good faith of the RGA, who chipped in with a very big ad buy in the closing days of the race, which Maloney lost by just three points. He's exploring a 2012 rematch against Tomblin, and if the two face off again, the race will likely be one of next year's marquee contests.
4) Josh Mandel: The Republican treasurer of Ohio attracted some national buzz last year when he won his statewide race with the support of over 2 million voters. When he declared himself a Senate candidate, his national stock skyrocketed; what's more, he turned in one of the most impressive fundraising quarters of the year.
But Mandel still has much to prove in 2012. His military background is appealing, but his boyish looks will remind voters of how young and relatively inexperienced he is.