Sen. Jeff Flake had already made something of a name for himself as a freshman, by being one of the bipartisan “Gang of 8″ that drafted a sweeping immigration reform bill.
Now the Arizona Republican can boast of another freshman achievement: most-beautiful person on Capitol Hill.
Flake was awarded the top spot Wednesday in The Hill newspaper’s annual list of the 50 most-beautiful people on Capitol Hill. He was the only Arizonan on this year’s list and one of only five elected officials.
“He had a good chuckle over it,” said Emily Goodin, features editor at The Hill. “He was a little embarrassed but he was a good sport about it.”
Goodin said she warned Flake that he might get some teasing from his colleagues on Capitol Hill, adding that he is the first lawmaker to make the top of the list since 2009.
Flake’s office did not return calls for comment Wednesday on the honor, and there is no mention of the list on his office website or social media accounts.
Robbie Sherwood, a political media consultant in Arizona who was an adviser to former Arizona Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell, said making the list is a conversation starter, if nothing else.
“I don’t think it hurts him in any way politically nor does it help him,” Sherwood said. “It’s one of those things that you say, ‘Hmmm,’ and then you move on with your day.”
The Hill, which dubbed Flake “Mr. All-American” on its list, attributed his “youthful appearance” to his healthy lifestyle: Flake exercise regularly and has never tried coffee, tea, alcohol or tobacco.
He gained notoriety in 2009 after flaunting his abs in a shirtless photo taken during a “Survivor”-like trip to one of the uninhabitated Marshall Islands. He made a similar trip this year, taking two of his sons along for several days of the three of them on an otherwise empty Pacific island.
But Flake still has guilty pleasures – ice cream, specifically – he told The Hill.
“I’m one of 11 kids. I grew up on a ranch. There was never enough dessert, never enough ice cream,” he told The Hill. “I still consider it a scarcity, so I eat all I can whenever I can. So that’s my big vice.”
Flake was one of five lawmakers – along with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Frederica Wilson and Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Tim Scott – named to the list that includes Hill staffers, and anyone who works for federal agencies. The 50-year-old Flake was not the oldest – that honor goes to Wilson, 70 – while most on the list were 20- and 30-something staffers.
In preparation for the list, The Hill placed ads on social media and in the newspaper asking for nominees. Then, the paper’s staff went through the nominees and voted.
Goodin would not say what Flake’s margin of victory was: The Hill doesn’t like to reveal the whole process, she said.
In the long term, Sherwood said, the list doesn’t matter. But it still has to be flattering, he said.
“Who wouldn’t want to be named one of the 50 best-looking people?” he said with a chuckle.