Top 10 political losers of 2012
By RICHARD S. DUNHAM
Hearst Newspapers | December 30,2012
AP File Photo
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, wave to supporters in Manchester, N.H., last spring. Romney is the biggest political loser of the year.
So, after all the cliches about a close presidential election (too-close-to-call, dead heat, photo finish, neck-and-neck, razor-thin, toss-up), it wasn’t that close.
John Kerry came closer to the presidency in 2004 — a lot closer — than Mitt Romney did in 2012. That makes the failed Republican presidential candidate the year’s biggest political loser.
But who joins him on the Top 10 List of Losers? Here are our choices:
1. Mitt Romney
The economy was lousy. The president wasn’t particularly popular. Washington was particularly unpopular. Voters were ready for a change. Still, Mitt Romney managed to lose the election. This is not the place to list all of his faults (from failing to connect with average Americans to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time). Let’s just say he lost the 2012 election the old-fashioned way: He earned it. And he’s the presidential loser most likely to vanish from the national political scene since Michael Dukakis.
2. John Boehner
The Speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency behind Vice President Biden. But on Capitol Hill, he’s a paper tiger. The Ohio Republican can’t even control his own rowdy conservative caucus. Governing? Well, we’ve all seen: He can’t.
3. David Petraeus
War hero. Revered general. Future president. Stop there. The Petraeus path to the presidency took a permanent detour this year when he admitted to an extra-marital affair with his biographer and unceremoniously resigned as CIA director.
4. Sheldon Adelson
Never has so much money been spent in politics with so little effect. The Las Vegas casino billionaire wasted at least half a billion trying to (a) elect Newt Gingrich as president and (b) to defeat Barack Obama. He’d have done better to play his own slot machines.
5. Karl Rove
Never has so much money been raised in politics with so little payoff. The Republican operative managed to convince a bunch of billionaires to part with millions and millions (and more millions). Then he managed to lose just about every key election contest. (Well, he did manage to win in the Nevada Senate race.) To cap it off, his televised meltdown on Election Night became one of the YouTube moments of 2012.
6. Richard Mourdock
At the beginning of the year, almost no pundit would have predicted that Democrat Joe Donnelly would be the next senator from Indiana. After all, six-term Republican Richard Lugar was a political legend in the Hoosier State with strong Democratic support. But Lugar lost his primary race to hard-right Republican Richard Mourdock, who then managed to blow the general election with extreme comments and serial gaffes. His worst? A debate remark that if a rape results in creation of a fetus, it “is something intended by God.” For losing a race that couldn’t be lost (think Todd Akin, too) Richard Mourdock makes our top ten list.
7. Rick Perry
The 1988 Democratic presidential field, led by the aforementioned Dukakis, was called “the seven dwarfs.” Yet it included such future powers as Al Gore, Joe Biden and Dick Gephardt. This year’s Republican presidential field was compared to the kooky patrons in the famous bar scene in the original “Star Wars” movie. But one of the candidates had the resume, fund-raising skill and record of accomplishment beyond the Beltway to, as Rush Limbaugh gushed, make Barack Obama nervous. That man? Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But his 2012 presidential campaign was a disaster and lasted only 19 days into 2012. To top it off, Perry isn’t ruling out a return run in 2016. Let’s just say that Chris Christie is not quaking in his boots.
8. Allen West
He was the embodiment of the bold Tea Party freshman elected to Congress in 2010. Brash, bold, outspoken. He called Barack Obama a socialist. He said there were scores of Communists in Congress. When it came to government spending, he voted no, no, hell no. Then his Florida constituents tossed him out after a single term.
9. Jan Brewer
Two years ago, the Arizona governor was the toast of the conservative movement. She had won a comfortable re-election after signing into law a tough immigration enforcement bill. But the Arizona immigration bill became a national symbol — fairly or not — of Republican hostility toward Latinos. A massive Latino turnout helped President Obama win an Electoral College landslide. And it cost Republicans three congressional seats in Arizona that they had expected to win in 2012. Brewer? She went on a secretive, post-election trip outside of Arizona. Her staff, according to The Hill newspaper, “refused to disclose her location or the nature of the trip.”
10. Bev Perdue
North Carolina’s Democratic governor decided not to seek re-election rather than face almost certain defeat. A Public Policy Polling survey found that Perdue was the nation’s least popular governor, with a 30 percent rating at mid-year. (She had some competition from Florida’s Rick Scott and Hawaii’s Neal Abercrombie.) Perdue will be replaced by Republican Pat McCrory, who took 55 percent of the vote in the 2012 governor’s race.