Believe It or Not, There Were Some Political Winners in 2013

From the de Blasio family—and Dante’s Afro—to Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, these politicos managed to rise above the fray.

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Sen. Cory Booker; national security adviser Susan Rice; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images;
Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Though there were no major elections held this year, 2013 still turned out to be one of the more eventful years in recent political memory. Between the government shutdown and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act there was certainly no shortage of major political news. There were plenty of political losers. (Click here to see our list.) But there were also plenty of winners. Take a look at who qualified for our winners’ circle below.

The de Blasio Family

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New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio with his wife, Chirlane McCray, son, Dante, and daughter, Chiara, on Election Day, Nov. 5, 2013, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Just five months ago New York City’s current public advocate was trailing in fourth place in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary. What a difference a few months can make. Now de Blasio is gearing up to be sworn in as New York City’s next mayor. De Blasio soared on the strength of his strong stance against the city’s racially inflammatory stop-and-frisk policy and his telegenic multiracial family—including his African-American wife, Chirlane McCray, and his son, Dante, who starred in what is widely considered one of the most effective ads in recent political memory. (Dante’s Afro would become nearly as big a celebrity as his father.) De Blasio’s family has been widely covered beyond New York media, in part because they represent America’s multiracial future.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie

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N.J. Gov. Chris Christie at his election night event after winning a second term at the Asbury Park Convention Hall on Nov. 5, 2013, in Asbury Park, N.J.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Christie has been touted as a rising star in Republican politics for years. But this is the year he seemed to really hit his stride. His recent weight-loss surgery seemed to signal to political watchers that he is serious about running for higher office in the near future, and the political landscape seems ideal for him. Thanks to this year’s government shutdown, Washington insiders are out with voters. Washington outsiders are in, and the loud and proud New Jersey guv loves touting his outsider status, and that is likely to make him a hit with some voters who have had enough with Washington. Polls seem to confirm this. He is the only potential GOP candidate whom surveys indicate could give Hillary Clinton a run for her money in 2016.

The Women of the Senate

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Sen. Susan Collins; Sen. Patty Murray; Sen. Kelly Ayotte

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During the government shutdown, few federal elected officials came out looking good. In fact Congress’ approval rating reached an all-time low of 11 percent at the time. (It has since fallen lower—to the single digits.) But there were some who stood out for actually behaving like adults while the majority of their colleagues behaved like children. While GOP senators like Ted Cruz (check him out on our 2013 losers list) opposed compromise at any cost, female GOP senators like Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) fought to find a resolution. Last week, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) played a key role in reaching a budget deal with the GOP-controlled house. As previously covered on The Root, studies have found women to be stronger leaders in areas involving conflict resolution. Maybe if we elected more of them, our political process would have less conflict and more legislation.

Rep. Paul Ryan

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Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan at the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 11, 2013, Washington, D.C.

Rod Lamkey/Getty Images

Last year Ryan (R-Wis.) was expected to become yet another political trivia question, since that’s usually what happens to most failed vice-presidential candidates. But this year he did something surprising: He emerged as one of Congress’ handiest tacticians. Ryan played a key role in the recent historic budget deal reached with Senate Democrats. In doing so, he established himself as an effective GOP leader, one with conservative bona fides but who also manages to maintain mainstream credibility. It’s possible we haven’t seen the last of him on a national ticket.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice