Sen. Jeff Flake on the Hill last month. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Flake on the Hill last month. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Does it bother Sen. Jeff Flake that it took the Hill a dozen years to notice him? Thick blonde hair, a bright white smile — you’d think he would have stood out before. But it was only this year that he made the paper’s “50 Most Beautiful” list.

Flake did not get back to us on whether he was bothered by the previous slight, but we asked the Hill: Why didn’t the Arizona Republican make the cut earlier?

“It’s a simple matter of that he’d never been nominated,” said Emily Goodin, features editor for the congressional newspaper. “I went back and checked because I said, ‘Oh, he had to have been on the list.”

But no! Flake’s name was never submitted for consideration until this year, when he rocketed to the No. 1 spot with his youthful demeanor (at 50, “doesn’t look anywhere close to that age”) and “chiseled physique.”

Then-Rep. Jeff Flake during a 2009 island trip. (Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Jeff Flake) Then-Rep. Jeff Flake during a 2009 island trip. (Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Jeff Flake)

Translation: Looks darn good without his shirt on those deserted island trips he took in 2009 and 2013. (Read earlier: 1 senator, 2 sons, 4 days, 1 deserted island: Jeff Flake escapes again to the North Pacific, 6/2/13)

“I will say it was a very impressive picture,” said Goodin. “And I’m sure it did not hurt his chances.”

This year, the Hill staff sifted through more than 500 nominees to find its top 50. While the entire staff votes on the finalists, only the top 10 end up ranked.

Sara and Chellie Zou. (Benjamin Myers for The Hill) Sara and Chellie Zou. (Benjamin Myers for The Hill)

So here’s another question: If Sara and Chellie Zou are identical twins. . . how come one is ranked higher than the other? (Sara at No. 4, Chellie at No. 5.)

“They are individual people and deserve individual spots on the list,” Goodin told us.

Taking a brutal look at the numbers, the Hill managed to achieve gender parity this year — 25 men and 25 women. But the list has a lopsided political distribution: 26 Democrats, 16 Republicans and eight independents or unaffiliateds.

And what about that age breakdown? More than half of the “most beautiful” — 29  to be precise — are in their 20s. Youngsters tend to have a leg up on the competition owing to the Hill’s no-repeat rule, which means a constant search for new blood.

Of course, critics claim the policy has also reduced the pool to the merely Most Okay Looking. “Actually, it doesn’t,” said Goodin. “The nice thing about Congress is that you get a new influx of people every two years.”

Or you finally get around to noticing the buff guy from the Grand Canyon State.

A version of this story appears in the print edition of Thursday, August 1, combined with material from an earlier web story: The Hill ’50 Most Beautiful’ list ranks Sen. Jeff Flake at No. 1

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