Who had the worst week in Washington? Michele Bachmann.

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By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Republican establishment 1, tea party 0.

That's the post-midterm score after tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) dropped her candidacy for a spot in the House Republican leadership roughly one week after announcing it.

Earlier in the week, Bachmann, who founded the tea party caucus in the House, was making bold proclamations about the power she wielded. She went so far as to tell Politico that she helped to "put that gavel in John Boehner's hand."

Her colleagues - at least some of the more influential ones - didn't seem to agree. While a handful of conservative members backed her, GOP leaders sided almost unanimously with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) for the No. 4 leadership role.

Sensing that the tea was - ahem - cooling, Bachmann ended things Wednesday, touting Hensarling as a "strong voice" for the tea party movement. (He has long been an outspoken conservative, an ideological position that had made Bachmann's challenge to him a bit of a head-scratcher.)

Bachmann's quick exit from the leadership race signals that while the tea party may have seized control from the GOP establishment outside Washington, the powers that be still have, well, power in the halls of Congress.

And with Hensarling's victory now assured, there won't be a single challenge to any member of the Republican leadership team - a sign that tea party might not have changed things within the party as much as people thought it had.

Michele Bachmann, for underestimating the (still) potent power of the party establishment, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com with your nominees.


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