Highs: 2010 saw Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner reach a political zenith. Capitalizing on an electorate skeptical about the efficacy of government in the face of economic hardship, Republicans wrested 63 House seats from Democrats in the midterm elections. Those historic gains not only delivered a new GOP majority in the House, but made Boehner, grizzled Hill veteran and consummate insider, its next Speaker. "It's clear whose tonight's winners really are," he said in a characteristically tearful election night speech. "That's the American people."
Lows: Despite a gangbusters November for Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority had the minority leader and his Republican cohorts legislatively hogtied for much of the year. The House passed major Democratic initiatives hand over fist during the 112th Congress and Boehner's frustration boiled over in a March 21 floor speech as the lower chamber prepared for its final vote on health care reform. "Shame on us; shame on this body," he thundered. "Shame on each and every single one of you who substitutes your will and your desire for those of your fellow countrymen." With the House soon to be under his control, Boehner may have new headaches; weathering tough votes and managing the raucous demands of the Tea Party will fall to him.