Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Awards to the best and worst of politicians in 2012

Published: Sunday, Dec. 30 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Masters of the political universe: Sen. Orrin Hatch and his campaign team, led by experienced operative David Hansen, built a campaign with excellent field and technology operations. Candidates for 2014 are already knocking at their doors begging for advice.

Most embarrassing moment by someone with a Utah connection: Olympus high school graduate Karl Rove's emotional meltdown on election night is well documented on YouTube. Watching his attempted rebound will be great entertainment in 2013.

Legislator who had the best year: House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart won respect from her colleagues for overcoming many challenges, and her popularity within Republican ranks continues to grow. It's no secret she has higher aspirations.

Politicos who had the overall worst year: Tea party candidates and activists lost at party caucuses, at conventions and in primaries. Nationally, they're getting blame for poor showings in U.S. Senate races.

Overall best year: Gov. Gary Herbert has had a nice ride. The state continues to win all sorts of recognition, and Herbert was re-elected with close to 70 percent of the vote. He has a bit of Teflon, deflecting criticism. Nationally acclaimed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie even blew off a Bruce Springsteen concert to speak at Herbert's fundraiser.

Biggest flameout of the year: The media expected nasty consequences from the huge expenditures made by super PACs. To be kind, their impact was minimal.

Most promising political operatives: Justin Miller (Ben McAdams' campaign manager), Brian Steed (Chris Stewart's campaign manager) Brenna Maren and Chase Clyde (Matheson's field operations).

Best campaign slogan: Rep. John Dougall was never boring in the Legislature, and his "Frugal Dougall" campaign rhyme was amusing to everyone except ousted incumbent Auston Johnson.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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