Top 10 Political Stories for 2011: Page 7 of 11

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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.

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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

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