The GOP should thank . . . .

Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) along with many Republican Senate candidates lost in 2012. But there were standouts and some future GOP stars who put forth great effort and whose devotion to their party and the conservative movement won’t be forgotten. Here are the top ten:

1. Reince PriebusHe inherited a mess at the Republican National Committee, turned around its finances and made it an asset once again. As a spokesman for the party, he was capable and rarely if ever off message. Whether he stays on at the RNC or pursues office himself, he helped reverse the fortunes of the committee.

2. Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio): There was no better surrogate, adviser or debate partner for Romney-Ryan than Portman. He embodies the common sense conservatism the party will need to advance. He’ll be an asset in the Senate and could one day find himself on a presidential ticket.

3. Gov. Bob McDonnell (Virginia): He could not help Romney win Virginia but he ends 2012 as one of the most popular governors in the country. He is barred from seeking a second consecutive term, but he will be an asset in the future to the conservative movement and the party. He was a near flawless surrogate for Romney, showing retail political skills that will come in handy, I suspect, in his future.

4. Speaker of the House John Boehner (Ohio): He kept his majority, came out smelling like a rose in Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics” and has earned the respect of many conservatives for backing a reform agenda and refusing to duck the problem of entitlement spending.

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