By Niall Stanage - 12/19/11 10:15 AM EST
BOEHNER AND THE GOP CONSERVATIVES
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) finally got his hands on the Speaker’s gavel in January — and spent much of the rest of the year trying to mollify the restive freshmen members of the Republican Conference.
These tensions are at one level unavoidable. Boehner is a consummate Washington insider and behind him are the serried ranks of Tea Party-backed insurgents. Seen in that light, his achievement in avoiding any serious challenge to his leadership is considerable.
Boehner faced yet another hurdle in December, as negotiations over extending the payroll tax holiday roiled his conference.
Boehner’s reputation as the ultimate survivor remains intact — but there are more turbulent waters ahead in 2012.
Here are The Hill’s choices for the 10 most important political stories of the year: