Though the politics of this year were fairly predictable (the party of the incumbent president loses Congressional seats? Shocking!), the political personalities were anything but. From an admitted madam running for Governor, to a wrestling mogul trying to body-slam her way into the U. S. Senate, 2010 may just go down in history as a year with some of the wackiest, or as Barbara Walters might say, "most fascinating" candidates ever. A look at some of the most colorful below:
10. Jeff Greene, Candidate for U.S. Senate, Florida: Being a multimillionaire with access to some of the best political consultants money can buy, you would think that at least one of the campaign gurus on Jeff Greene's payroll might have mentioned that paling around with Mike Tyson and Lindsay Lohan is not exactly the type of judgment that screams "serious candidate" or "electable." Greene, who didn't seem to understand why having Tyson serve as best man at his recent wedding might give some voters pause, plowed ahead in his efforts to secure the Democratic nomination for the Florida Senate contest nonetheless. He lost, but did not take his loss lightly. He filed suit against news outlets he blamed for his defeat for unfairly, and by his accounts, inaccurately tarnishing his image with voters.
9. Linda McMahon, Candidate for U.S. Senate Connecticut: Thanks to Jesse Ventura, the idea of a wrestler being elected to higher office is not as shocking or laughable as it may have once been, but there was still something a bit unsettling about seeing someone trying to combine the image of a cuddly, suburban soccer mom with the persona of a badass, body-slamming, toughie. Needless to say pulling off this political split personality cum juggling act is not as easy as it sounds, as Linda McMahon learned the hard way. After running an ad that included clips of her pretending to assault someone in the wrestling ring, while her daughter (or an actress portraying her) pretended to assault McMahon, you can't blame voters for not buying McMahon's "I'm a grandma just like you" routine in the final ads of her losing campaign--despite her best efforts to pull it off in a pastel sweater set and pearls. Apparently not enough Connecticut voters had grandmas who own yachts with colorful names like "Sexy Bitch," the name of the McMahon family luxury boat.
8. Kamala Harris, Attorney General-Elect, California: Due to a protracted vote count battle that lasted long after Election Day, Harris's historic win was largely overlooked in much of the coverage of this year's big political stories but hers is without question one of the biggest. Harris became the first Black and Asian American woman elected statewide in California. The comparisons to Barack Obama have been inevitable (like Obama, it doesn't hurt that Harris is easy on the eyes) and now that she has solidified her place in history, expect the comparisons to grow louder and expect to see her name mentioned on the shortlist for Democratic presidential and vice-presidential contenders for years to come.
7. Joe Miller, Candidate for U.S. Senate Alaska: As the original Papa Grizzly, Miller will forever hold a place in history as the first candidate to help Sarah Palin flex her post 2008 election muscle. With her endorsement he helped knock out the GOP establishment choice in the Republican primary, incumbent Lisa Murkowski, a longtime Palin rival. Miller's Cinderella tale was short-lived however. Murkowski defied the odds, becoming one of the few successful write-in Senate candidates in U.S. history. For Miller this means that he will make the history books twice: first for his endorsement, and second for his unconventional loss. He will also be remembered for the protracted legal battle he mounted in a last ditch effort to pull out a win, and lastly (but certainly not least) for having a security team that bizarrely handcuffed a member of the media.
6. Nikki Haley, Governor-Elect, South Carolina: Most candidates are lucky if they have one trait that makes them memorable to your average voter. Nikki Haley is blessed with a few. Attractive and articulate, Haley also landed herself in the history books as the first Asian American woman to make it all the way to a Governor's mansion. But even more memorable? Haley weathered a sex scandal at the height of her campaign and won anyway. Move over John Gotti. Someone's about to steal your "Teflon" crown and you might just have to call that "someone" Madam President someday.
5. Sharron Angle, Candidate for U.S. Senate, Nevada: The most colorful thing about Sharron Angle is that despite being one of the wackiest candidates to run for office this year--she almost won. We can credit her with helping to popularize one of the most overused political catchphrases of 2010, "Man up," which she repeatedly told her foe, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid to do. (He eventually did, defeating Angle in one of the nation's most watched races.) From describing the abortion dilemma facing rape survivors and those in high-risk pregnancies as an opportunity to turn "a lemon situation into lemonade," to her apparent pro-militia stance, not to mention shushing members of the media, and avoiding them altogether, Sharron Angle was not exactly what you'd call a mainstream candidate, but she certainly was a colorful one.
4. Alvin Greene, Candidate for U.S. Senate South Carolina: It's a sad state of affairs when you can say with 100% confidence that Al Green the singer would have made a more credible candidate for the United States Senate just by singing "Love and Happiness," in a few interviews than the Al Greene who actually ran. For the record, yes there were some voters who actually admitted to voting for Alvin Greene because of the similarity between his name and that of the beloved singer, one of numerous theories still being discussed and dissected regarding the unknown and untested candidate's surprise primary win. Greene's media appearances made it clear that he was not exactly ready for primetime, to put it kindly, but that has not stopped him from aspiring to an even bigger political stage: the presidency.
3. Kristin Davis, Candidate for Governor, New York: It's not hard to be designated a colorful character when you're an admitted former proprietor of a brothel. While most candidates for public office run away from the less savory parts of their past, Davis put hers front and center, making them a selling point of her quixotic candidacy. The woman who is best known for providing escorts to New York's former Governor highlighted her unique experience during the New York Governor's debate, with such quips as, "The difference between the escort service I ran and the MTA is that I had one set of books and provided on-time, reliable service" and "The career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in this state, I may be the only person on the stage able to deal with them." Alas, Davis did not win, but perhaps like fellow longshot Al Greene she earned a few extra votes thanks to her famous name, which is the same as "Sex and the City" actress Kristin Davis.
2. Christine O'Donnell, Candidate for U.S. Senate, Delaware: If "Saturday Night Live" and Sarah Palin's avowed arch nemesis the so-called "lamestream media" had dreamed up the perfect political target it would be Christine O'donnell. Pretty, perky and even more allergic to intellectual stimulation than her Mama Grizzly mentor Palin, O'Donnell registered so high on the wacky meter the scale almost broke. From her on camera musings on masturbation, to her serious declaration that "I'm not a witch," O'Donnell is the kind of candidate that was so entertaining this time around that those of us who make a living writing about candidates are hoping against all hope that she runs again. Since she hasn't held full-time employment outside of running for office the last few years, it looks like our hope is not that far-fetched.
1. Jimmy McMillan, Candidate for Governor, New York: Who knew that a candidate simply stating the most obvious of the obvious, that "The Rent is Too Damn High," could turn him into a phenomenon? If Christine O'donnell was tailor made for Saturday Night Live, then Jimmy McMillan appeared straight out of central casting for its edgier, more low brow former counterpart MAD TV. Despite stealing the show during the New York Governor's debate (where he came close to making conservative kook Carl Paladino sound normal) McMillan's eventual loss was no surprise, but it hasn't dampened his political aspirations. McMillan recently announced his plans to run for the presidency. Watching he and Al "not the singer" Greene, debate should be interesting to say the least.
Click here to see those who made my Honorable Mention list and of course feel free to share your own nominees in the comments below.
This list originally appeared on TheLoop21.com for which Goff is a Contributing Editor.
Follow Keli Goff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/keligoff