5. Ken Cuccinelli – Virginia’s Attorney General took office only in January of this year, after the November 2009 mini-wave election that brought us Republican governor Bob McDonnell. Cuccinelli was first out of the gate nationally to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the worst piece of American legislation passed in a generation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (ObamaCare, as it is known, is also the only significant piece of American legislation remaking large swaths of society that did not pass with bipartisan support.) Cuccinelli filed his suit on behalf of Virginia less than 48 hours after passage of the bill, and in August a district court judge ruled that the lawsuit may proceed, which most expect it to do all the way to the Supreme Court.
Cuccinelli earned his stripes for this act alone, but gets bonus points for spearheading an effort–now supported by almost 20 states–to curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant. He also scores for investigating former UVA professor Michael Mann’s role in last fall’s ClimateGate.
4. Jim DeMint – Like Sarah Palin, South Carolina Senator DeMint was both prescient and influential in hand-selecting Tea Party candidates to endorse in crucial races across the country for the 2010 midterm primaries. DeMint had a better record of picking true conservatives than Palin, including Chuck DeVore over Carly Fiorina in California and Ovide Lamontagne over Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire. read more »