10 years of lovely lawmakers

Future presidents, Cabinet members and rising political stars have been among the 450 people to grace The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful list over the past nine years.

Since 2004, more than 50 members of Congress have been labeled “most beautiful,” along with hundreds of congressional aides, reporters and Capitol Hill workers. 

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For some, the label of “most beautiful” was won on the way to brighter and bigger things. 

President Obama was a senator when he made the list in 2005 — three years before his dramatic presidential run against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) rocketed him to the White House. 

The Hill spotted Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) youthful good looks in 2008, four years before Mitt Romney put him on the 2012 GOP ticket.

Others have seen their political fortunes fall since making the list. 

Then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) was No. 2 on the list in 2004, the year he was the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket. 

Four years later, he ran for the White House again, only to lose and then see his political career flame out spectacularly after his indictment on six felony charges of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws to cover up an extramarital affair — one he engaged in while his wife was battling cancer. 

 For many of the other 50 people honored each year, being named one of the most beautiful isn’t a road to stardom or disgrace, but a moment that brings attention — and maybe some jibes from friends and political foes. 

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who was picked for the list last year, joked that his life didn’t change too much. 

“I had to hire an agent and turn down plenty of movie scripts,” he joked. “And I understand that Tom Cruise is running scared. But, apart from that, not much.” 

Other lawmakers have moved up in the world since they appeared on the list.

Obama was picked as the second most beautiful person on Capitol Hill when he was an Illinois senator. Future Miss D.C. Kate Michael was No. 1 on the list that year. 

At the time, Obama laughed off his nomination, but when told he was in second place, responded: “What? Who’s No. 1?! I’m like Avis. I have to try a little harder.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) was a member of the House in 2009 when he secured the moniker of most beautiful on Capitol Hill. Now he’s a senator.

“I’m grateful to The Hill for including my mom and my wife on its 2009 selection committee,” he joked when asked about his time in the spotlight.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on the list in 2006 when he was House majority leader. He’s since become Speaker of the House. 

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t fare quite as well. She was No. 4 in 2007, the same year she became the first female Speaker. She lost the gavel after the midterm elections three years later, though she remains her party’s House leader.

Then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was an honoree in 2004, and is now Defense secretary, while Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) became Democratic National Committee chairwoman years after making the list in 2006.

Some honorees still have chances for higher office: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who’s often mentioned as a 2016 White House candidate, was on the list in 2011, and rising GOP star Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) was honored last year.

And even though years have gone by since some lawmakers were named, they are still as beautiful as ever.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who was on the list in 2007, said the only thing that has changed for him is time.

“When I came in, I was considered on the young side; now I’m considered on the middle-aged side. I guess the biggest change is that I need more sleep,” he told The Hill.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) was on the list in 2011. While talking about it with a reporter from The Hill, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) walked by and called out: “He has a beautiful smile, doesn’t he?”

Grimm laughed and said: “Your timing, Mr. Mulvaney, couldn’t have been better.”

The interaction with Mulvaney reflects a right of passage that follows anyone who makes the list: ritual teasing.

“It hasn’t been different at all, except for being made fun of a little bit extra and being jabbed a little more than usual by my peers,” Grimm said of his post-list life.

Himes got teased too.

“It was a source of much teasing from my staff for about two weeks, and then I threatened to fire them and it stopped,” he joked.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who was on the list in 2009, hasn’t let the honor go to his head. 

“I’m still married to the beautiful lady I was married to 43 years ago,” he said.

Being on the list haven’t brought everyone the luck it’s brought Obama or Heinrich.

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) and former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) lost elections after making the list, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced last week she would retire.

Former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) was on the 2006 list, before revelations that he tried to keep an extramarital affair a secret led to his resignation in 2011.

Former Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) was honored in 2008 after he was arrested for a DUI that resulted in the disclosure he had an alternative family. He didn’t run for reelection that cycle.

And former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) graced the list in 2010 before his hospitalization and subsequent resignation from Congress.

Others describe being on the list as a nice moment. 

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) made it in 2009 — two years before he famously bared his abs on the cover of Men’s Health.

“I don’t think it’s changed [me] one bit,” he said of being on the list. “Should I have gotten a book deal?”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) clocked in at No. 9 in 2005 but was humble about it.

“It was flattering but undeserved,” he told The Hill.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) made the list in 2007 — her first year in Congress.

“I’ve always said beauty is in the eye of the holder,” she said, but added: “It was an ego boost, especially for a new member.”