4. Rep. Eric I. Cantor 

U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip

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Little embarrassments punctuated Rep. Eric Cantor's recent year: Cameras caught him doodling on his BlackBerry during the State of the Union address, the cops popped a pin in his claim that the shot-out window of his Broad Street office was political retribution instead of random gunfire, and he just shuttered the think tank that he opened last year to great fanfare. Nevertheless, the minority whip has held his national caucus together, denying Democrats a single Republican vote in the House on the stimulus bill. He's expected to gain members this fall, but the biggest test of his strength will be in his own backyard, in Charlottesville, where a tight Congressional race is being hailed as a bellwether for the strength of both parties.

Next: 5. Michael E. Szymanczyk -->

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