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Top 10 Political Stories of 2010: Year In Review

Did Christine O’Donnell’s admission of dabbling in witchcraft cause her to lose what could have been another GOP-held Senate seat? It sure didn’t help (No. 4).

10. This Amazing Race Was Almost Over Before it Began—Gov. David Paterson launched his gubernatorial campaign on Feb. 20 at Hofstra, slamming “pundits and politicians” for predicting he’d lose in November. He proved them all wrong because a week later he was gone, becoming the lamest of lame ducks while clearing the Democratic Party’s slate for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.


9. Handsome Devil Scott Brown (once a nude Cosmo centerfold) shocked the Obama administration by winning the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat—It didn’t help the Democratic cause that their nominee, Massachusetts state Attorney General Martha Coakley, didn’t like to campaign in cold weather. The special election was held January 19. The Republican upset deprived the Democrats of their 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority.

8. Upstate Rep. Eric Massa’s resignation on March 8 takes the cake—First he said his cancer’s come back and that’s why he’d leave office. But then it was revealed the House ethics committee was investigating him for sexually harassing young men on his staff. On the Glenn Beck show, an unlikely venue for any Democrat, Massa admitted he had engaged in “tickle fights” with them.

7. Dubbing himself “Scott Brown II,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy switched parties to run for governor in the Republican primary—He called Albany a “cesspool,” and since Suffolk doesn’t have a lot of sewers, he probably figured he’d be the best man to clean up the place. His entry into the race on March 18 didn’t sit well with fellow Suffolk native, Rick Lazio, then the GOP front-runner, whose spokesman labeled Levy “a left-wing, liberal Democrat.” Levy’s timing could’ve been better. Under party rules, he wouldn’t officially become Republican until after the party’s June convention—and more importantly, after the September primary. He couldn’t even vote for himself.

6. On an open mic, Vice President Joe Biden told obama that getting the health care bill passed is a “big fucking deal!” –  The revealing moment came at a signing ceremony on March 23. Insuring tens of millions of Americans who otherwise wouldn’t be covered was huge, but getting the bill through Congress was the political equivalent of making sausage. Many Dems who voted for it later lost.

5. Three rich Republican women could not buy themselves a victory—proving that even in American politics money isn’t everything. The record for self-enabling defeat goes to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who spent $160 million of her fortune running for California governor only to lose to relative pauper, Jerry Brown. The next loser is former World Wrestling Entertainment Chief Linda McMahon, who spent $46.6 million against Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in the Senate race. The poor sister, so to speak, is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who spent a measly $5.5 million of her own funds in her primary bid and loaned her general election campaign a cool million in a failed attempt to outsource Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

4. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell admits she may have once “dabbled in witchcraft”—With her Tea Party backing, the Sarah Palin-protege cast out Delaware’s Rep. Mike Castle, a GOP moderate, in the primary only to vanish in the general election, preventing the Republicans from picking up Joe Biden’s former seat. But she’s made her mark: she was spoofed on Saturday Night Live, got a book deal and reality TV offers. Not bad for a candidate who didn’t know the U.S. Constitution does indeed separate church and state.

3. State Senate is in Republican hands when Mineola Mayor Jack Martins was declared the winner of the 7th Senate District after a recount challenge by Democratic incumbent Sen. Craig Johnson failed. So, with a 32-30 majority, Sen. Dean Skelos became the majority leader for the third time since 2008, making the Rockville Centre Republican once again the GOP’s top power-broker in Albany.

2. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the GOP primary in Alaska to Sarah Palin’s hand-picked guy, Joe Miller, only to win an historic write-in campaign in November—Palin’s people had high hopes their Tea Party champ would give the incumbent Republican senator the heave-ho. But the caribou-shooting Palin didn’t pack enough ammo to help Miller himself hit the target in this high-profile race right in her own backyard. She may wear designer clothes these days but Palin’s political coattails look rather worse for wear.

1. The last result of the contentious midterms is settled on Long Island—Rep. Tim Bishop finally won on Dec. 8 when Randy Altschuler conceded, trailing by 263 votes. Keeping the 1st C.D. in the Democratic column didn’t offset the party’s loss of Congress but was revealing. Nationwide, Republicans and Tea Party conservatives rolled over liberals and moderates alike, but not on the East End, noted for having 35,000 more Republicans than Democrats and more Conservatives than any district in the Empire State. Maybe all politics are local.

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