12. Allan Zaremberg
Allan Zaremberg has been with the California Chamber of Commerce for nearly 30 years, and its top dog – president and CEO – for more than 20. He’s a perennial figure on this list, and for good reason: He heads the state’s most politically powerful business group, and is aggressive about picking and winning political fights. Zaremberg is a staunch Republican who cut his teeth in the Deukmejian administration, but he’s also a pragmatist who makes alliances to benefit business interests, such as when he cozied up to Democrat Gray Davis – a move that caught the Capitol by surprise. The Chamber has a full-throated political operation, and its principal spin effort – labeling legislation it opposes as “job killers” – may be long in the tooth but still gets traction. As we went to press, Zaremberg announced plans to retire, but he will remain in the saddle until the end of the year.
Updated Aug. 25, 2021