Top 10 Political Stories for 2011: Page 7 of 11



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.

But that is only part of the story. Twice during the summer, conservatives forced Boehner to back away from a grand bargain with Obama. In the process, the spotlight was once again turned on his complicated relationship with Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

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:

Bin Laden | Giffords | Dissent
Message? | Economy | GOP's reign
Reid & McConnell | Debt ceiling | The wire | GOP candidates