Welcome to the 10th running of Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 list, our annual look at people who aren’t elected to office but who wield decisive influence on California politics or policy — or both.
Much has changed in the nine years since we started this exercise. We shifted from a Republican to a Democratic governor, emerged from the Great Recession to become the world’s fifth-largest economy and watched GOP voter registration dip to third-party status behind decline-to-state. Hardball politics got even harder.
But the big issue in Sacramento this year stemmed from the #MeToo movement, in which hundreds of women — including lobbyists and Capitol staffers — publicly described being victimized by acts of sexual misconduct committed by lawmakers, managers, lobbyists and others. The disclosures hit the Capitol like a bomb, forcing the departures of some legislators and public apologies from others. Reporting by the L.A. Times’ Melanie Mason captured the issue.
About a fifth of the names on the Top 100 are new, including some who have been on before and who are joining us again. We try to have new blood each year — “It shouldn’t be a yearly entitlement,” said one — while retaining what we hope is a fairly accurate rundown of those at pivotal points in California politics. Several were destined to be on last year’s list, but we couldn’t fit them in. They are here now.
The list also reflects the shifts of key players, those who moved from one gig to another or who are retiring. This movement seemed to be greater than before. And of course there is the absence of the late Nancy McFadden, No. 1 last year, who has been on nearly every edition of this list.
Since this is the 10th Edition of the Top 100 we thought it would be informative to look back at the makeup of past lists. The print edition of the 2018 Top 100 includes the first nine editions (names and numbers only) of the Top 100. (Copies of the 2018 Top 100 Book can be purchased from nonprofit Capitol Weekly for $10 each.)
Back to this year: the lobbying over the list was heavy and the deadlines merciless. Somehow, we got the project done, but not without a lot of help.
And now for the gratitude.
First, thanks to those who took the time to offer their time and suggestions. They included friends, consultants, our board members, reporters, Capitol staffers, retired officials, family members, colleagues. You know who you are.
Thanks to Chuck McFadden, a former AP newsie and government communications expert who worked on the profiles with a deft touch, and thanks to former intern Dylan Svoboda of UC Davis.
Many, many thanks to Stockton artist Chris Shary, who crafted the line drawings on deadline, to photog Scott Duncan for the cover portrait of the governor, and to graphic artist Judd Hertzler, who put it all together.
Finally, we offer thanks for your support of Capitol Weekly, with its vast staff of three, and for supporting Open California, the nonprofit, nonpartisan publisher of Capitol Weekly.
Enough: The Top 100 is out and I’m leaving town. — John Howard, Editor, Capitol Weekly
1. Anne Gust Brown
Welcome back, Anne Gust Brown. She was our No. 1 for years during the final two administrations of her husband, Gov. Jerry Brown. We pushed her to No. 2 last year amid numerous reports from people who know that Anne was disengaging from day-to-day governance — unofficially, she’s always been Jerry’s top adviser and confidante — and was focusing on the couple’s 2,500-acre Colusa ranch. But Anne returns to the top spot following the death earlier this year of Jerry’s longtime associate Nancy McFadden, our No. 1 in 2017, who essentially ran the cabinet and California’s sprawling bureaucracy from her perch in the “Horseshoe.” Following McFadden’s passing, there was a power vacuum in the Horseshoe, insiders say. Not now: Anne, again, is functioning as the governor’s chief of staff, chief organizer, general factotum and adviser during the remaining months of his term. And the endgame is not going to be smooth: California is embroiled in two-dozen lawsuits against the federal government on immigration and environmental protection, among other issues; the state’s wildfires are consuming lives, property and budget resources; and Jerry’s dream for the high-speed bullet train and the Delta tunnels project is running into rough patches. So Anne has her plate full, but if past is prologue, the odds are that she will be instrumental in pushing through the bulk of the governor’s program before he leaves office in January 2019. After that, the timing may not be right for Jerry to run for president for a fourth time (he’ll be 82 in 2020), but one rumor we like is that he intends to run for mayor of Colusa. If he’s elected, you know Anne will be there, as chief of staff.
2. Diana Dooley
If it’s important and has anything to do with Jerry Brown’s administration and major California public policy issues, Diana Dooley is in the middle of it. As chief of staff and executive secretary in the governor’s office, longtime Brown loyalist Dooley plays a major role in shaping the administration’s actions on legislation, appointments, staff and pretty much everything else. She’s no stranger to high-level positions: She served as legislative secretary and special assistant to Brown during his first two terms in 1975-83 and moved into the chief of staff slot in March 2018 after the death of Nancy McFadden. Dooley served as the cabinet-level secretary of Health and Human Services and chair of the board of Covered California, where she worked to make the Affordable Care Act survive in California. Dooley, a former top executive for children’s hospitals, was Brown’s first appointment after he was elected to a third term in 2010, has been described as a calming influence, which is handy, as she works from the governor’s inner circle to mold California’s opposition to nearly all things Trump.
3. Mary Nichols
It’s getting harder to remember a time when Mary Nichols wasn’t leading the California Air Resources Board, the most important air-quality enforcer in the United States. She is in her 11th consecutive year — and 15th year, total — as the ARB’s chair. Nichols carries quite a load, and it’s getting heavier: The Trump administration is determined to roll back California’s clean-air regulations, and Nichols is in the middle of the fight. A former lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, she served on the ARB during Gov. Jerry Brown’s first term 1979-83, first as a member and later as chair. She left government to practice law, but Gov. Gray Davis brought her back as his natural resources secretary in 1999-2001. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, named her to the ARB in 2007, and she has been there ever since. She’s emerged as a national figurehead for environmentalism and air-quality advocacy through her work and participation in speeches and interviews throughout the country. The buzz around the water cooler is that she may retire soon. We’ll see.
4. Michael Cohen
This is another of those welcome-back moments, and this time it’s for Michael Cohen, the director of the Department of Finance. That’s the office that writes the governor’s budget and decides how much government departments will get to spend. So within Sacramento’s vast bureaucratic structure, this department stands atop all others. The 2018-19 budget signed by Jerry Brown in June totaled just north of $201 billion. The man in charge of it all as director of the Department of Finance since 2013 is Cohen, a graduate of the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The balding, bespectacled Cohen, who has been on our list before, was gone last year due to illness. He has a unique ability to master details while also being plugged into the big picture. By virtue of his position, Cohen is Gov. Brown’s principal adviser on all matters fiscal, and while the state’s current outlook is rosy, Cohen and his department display prudence in viewing the future. In addition to the census, Cohen’s team is taking a front-row position on the U.S. Census in California, making sure that the state doesn’t suffer from an undercount.
5. Mona Pasquil
Want to work in Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration? Well, there’s only a few months left to take your shot. To score a last-minute gig with California’s longest-tenured governor, you’ll have to go through Simeona Fortunata “Mona” Pasquil. Pasquil, the governor’s appointments secretary, handles recruiting and background checks for Gov. Brown — key administrative duties that don’t get the same public recognition as other essential responsibilities but represent the crucial underpinning of the administration. She’s got solid political chops and administrative skills, necessary qualities to sift through potential employees. Pasquil, a lifelong Democrat, served in an array of posts, including as the political director for both Gov. Gray Davis and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and staffed Clinton White House’s Office of Public Affairs. In 2009, she briefly served as lieutenant governor — becoming California’s first Asian and female lieutenant governor — after her boss, John Garamendi resigned to go to Congress in what was an uncommon moment in the spotlight for the longtime political backdrop operator. Pasquil also has also been a top-drawer fundraiser.
6. Robbie Hunter
As president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Robbie Hunter, an iron worker and champion of the prevailing wage, fought hard and successfully to pass SB 1, the bill raising gas taxes to help fix the state’s roads and highways. Now Hunter finds himself in yet another battle — this time against the Republican-led effort to repeal the measure. The Nov. 6 ballot contains a proposal, Proposition 6, to dump the tax, and a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll had 51% of registered voters favoring the idea. California may be a deep blue state, but people still don’t like paying taxes. Repeal has been a linchpin of the Republican candidates’ campaigns, including GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox. Hunter, however, heads a formidable organization. The SBCTC has 160 affiliated local unions with more than 350,000 members, and when they talk, people listen. In addition to that, Hunter has a powerful ally in his fight against repeal: Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown has been an outspoken opponent of repeal, and he has a formidable war chest in excess of $14 million that he could put into the campaign. And not content with the gas tax battle, Hunter is also pushing Brown’s high-speed rail project. It’s a busy year for a busy man.
7. Eric Bauman
Encounter Eric Bauman at a political event, and you’re probably in for an impassioned and knowledgeable political discussion. Bauman, one of L.A.’s most powerful political leaders, is now chair of the California Democratic Party, replacing longtime chair John Burton. The aggressive Bauman lives and breathes politics. Right now, he can enjoy his party’s success: Registration stands at 44.4% of California’s 19 million registered voters, and the hated Republicans have slipped to 25.1%. That means the California GOP is now in third place behind those who registered with no party preference at 25.5%. Bauman headed the Los Angeles County Democratic Party for 17 years and still is a top adviser to the Capitol’s Democratic leadership. The Bronx, N.Y., native is a registered nurse, who was on the forefront of the battle against HIV/AIDS during its height. Bauman plays a key role in allotting party resources between now and Nov. 6, hoping to take back control of the House from the Republicans. Bauman lives in the North Hollywood hills with his husband Michael and his dog Moe.
8. Allan Zaremberg
Allan Zaremberg is president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, which leads 13,000 members in encouraging economic growth of the nation’s richest state and world’s fifth-largest economy. That’s a lofty goal, but what it all comes down to hardball politics and pushing for the election of lawmakers that go by any number of labels — “business friendly” and “moderate” immediately come to mind — that are supportive of the Chamber’s political agenda. Zaremberg, who has been the Chamber’s top executive since 1998, and his team (see Nos. 73, 78) are good at this, and every election cycle the Chamber’s JobsPAC is front and center in legislative races. Zaremberg, a protégé of Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, is usually identified with Republican causes, and rightly, too. But Zaremberg joined with Jerry Brown and Democrat-led forces to win legislative approval of the new 12-cent gasoline tax to raise money to fix potholes. That tax faces a Republican-led repeal on the November ballot, and the Chamber and the Democrats, among others, are fighting that too. And so it goes.
9. Mac Taylor
After 40 years at the Office of the Legislative Analyst and a decade as its chief, Mac Taylor is retiring at the end of the year. He’s largely unknown to the general public, but his departure is a big deal in the Capitol. Taylor is the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal adviser, and he and his staff are indispensable. Their chief target is the state budget, but they also analyze ballot initiatives and economic trends, among myriad other chores. His LAO career included stints as a program analyst, section head and deputy assistant analyst before being named head legislative analyst in 2008. Taylor also serves on the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit dedicated to providing lawmakers and the public with nonpartisan public policy analyses. Every controversial state budget-related issue of the last decade wound up on Taylor’s desk at one point or another. He’s only the fifth person to serve as Analyst in the office’s 77-year history.
10. Elaine Howle
It doesn’t really pay to mess with Elaine Howle, the California State Auditor. Just ask the University of California. Last year, Howle released an exhaustive audit: The most common word the media used to describe the document was “scathing.” She noted that the UC was not cooperative when the audit was underway and reported that UC had squirreled away $175 million. A pair of top UC executives, including UC President Janet Napolitano’s chief of staff, resigned last November after it was disclosed that one of them emailed several campuses to disclose confidential information and coordinate answers to Howle. It was all very, very messy. Howle is in her 18th year as the leader of this essential component of checks and balances. She answers to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which supervises Howle and orders audits.
11. Bill Devine
Bill Devine has been on all 10 editions of this list, and for good reason. He’s a vice president of AT&T — that means he makes a little more than the editor of Capitol Weekly — and he’s at the center of every major telecommunications bill in the Capitol. He’s also on the A-list of well-heeled power players, in part because AT&T is the main corporate donor and key of sponsor of the annual Speaker’s Cup at Pebble Beach, the largest single legislative fundraiser of the year. And Devine’s clout in Sacramento remains undiminished, despite AT&T’s problems in D.C. There, a top company lobbying and policy executive, Bob Quinn, was forced to resign in May following the disclosure of a $600,000 payment that AT&T made to a shadowy shell company run by Donald Trump’s “fixer,” Michael Cohen, who is under federal criminal investigation in New York.
12. Camille Wagner
Camille Wagner is Gov. Brown’s legislative secretary, which means she’s usually in a fight and usually successful. Part of her job is to push Brown’s policy and political agenda through a balky Legislature while heading off the legislation he opposes. That may sound easy, but it’s not. She’s steeped in policy, but Wagner also has real political chops and she’s one of a handful of people Brown goes to for political advice. Wagner, a product of the Capitol Fellowship Program, began her Capitol career working for former Sen. Christine Kehoe, from 2005 to 2009, then joined the staff of then-Assemblymember Steven Bradford as legislative director from 2009 to 2011.
13. Angie Wei
California’s 1,200 AFL-CIO chapters and over 2.1 million union members are represented by the California Labor Federation, which serves as a sort of umbrella group and backbone of the state’s organized labor movement. The boots-on-the-ground top foot soldier here is Angie Wei, the Labor Fed’s legislative director and chief of staff. Wei’s group, among others, was dealt a significant blow with the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said public employees can’t be forced to support unions financially. But Wei is calling for a return to old-school grassroots organizing as a way for California unions to stay viable, a strategy she pushed long before the Janus decision. One of the reasons Wei is high on this list is numerical: Her organization gathers an estimated 20,000 volunteers for each election cycle, and that translates into clout when labor sits at the political table to decide issues. Wei also serves as chair of the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation.
14. Dave Low
It’s been a difficult year for schools and their unions, and when school employees get into the picture, the attention shifts to their leader, Dave Low. He’s the executive director of the California School Employees Association, and represents the hundreds of thousands of school workers who don’t run their own classrooms. CSEA is the largest union of classified employees in the nation. He’s been with CSEA for 37 years and worked his way up through an array of union functions, including contract bargaining, arbitration, and serving as a union steward to executive management and strategy. Low moved to the top job in 2011 and is the fifth executive director in CSEA’s history. Low advocates against public pension cuts, serving as the chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, which represents more than 1.6 million public employees in California. Low’s name, long known in the labor movement, will get an even higher profile if California’s public-pension crisis accelerates, as many have predicted.
15. Jeff Kightlinger
In nearly every California conversation about water, mention of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California invariably pops up. Rightly so, too: MWD has a $1.8 billion annual budget and 1,800 employees, and it wholesales water to more than two dozen agencies in six counties serving 19 million people. That’s a lot of water under the bridge, so to speak, and the key person at the tap is Jeff Kightlinger, MWD’s general manager and CEO. He’s been doing this for 12 years, and he’s been at or near the center of every important water spat for the past decade. The latest: The MWD board authorized putting up $10.8 billion for Gov. Brown’s beloved twin-tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joquin River Delta, which means it may actually get built.
16 Joe Nuñez
It’s been a challenging year for Joe Nuñez, the executive director of the California Teachers Association. In June, the SCOTUS ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees that public unions such at the CTA cannot charge nonmembers for representing them. That means a loss of 23,000 payees, the CTA estimates. The union moved to cut its 2018-19 budget by $20 million. It does not plan to cut its staff of 435, but it will leave some vacant positions unfilled. But CTA, with 325,000 members, is still huge and remains one of the most potent political forces in the state. Nuñez comes from humble beginnings — he was the ninth of 11 children of farmworker parents. He served as a teacher for two decades, and in 1990 led a monthlong strike by the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association. He joined the CTA in 1995 and served on the State Board of Education for six years.
17. Kip Lipper
The Capitol is legendary for its cramped, messy offices, but even by these standards, Kip Lipper’s digs are extraordinary. It’s bursting with paper — reports, analyses, books, studies, bills, charts, you name it. If a clean desk is the sign of a diseased mind, then Lipper is the sanest person in the Capitol. Lipper, sometimes called the “41st senator,” is profoundly influential when it comes to environmental issues. He’s been the top environmental adviser to an array of Senate leaders, and nothing gets through the house unless he’s weighed in. His name has become a verb. A bill is “Lipperized” or “Kipped” when Lipper makes his signature tweaks to the legislation. He has spent over 30 years at the Capitol, crafting environmental legislation such as the California Clean Air Act, the California Safe Drinking Water Act and the Integrated Waste Management Act among many, many others. Lipper has been at the forefront of California’s ambitious energy and environmental goals, his influence will long outlast his time in the Capitol.
18. Laphonza Butler
Laphonza Butler is the president of the 190,000-member Local 2015 of the Service Employees International Union, and that’s a very big deal. It reflects Butler’s importance in California politics — for Democrats who want her support and for Republicans who have to go up against Butler’s street army of campaign volunteers. Butler’s role as Local 2015 president cements her position on our list, although she’s slipped a few notches since last time. That’s because she lost her gig as president of the SEIU State Council and was replaced by Roxanne Sanchez, a San Francisco labor leader. Butler, who was born and raised in Mississippi in a family supported by her mother, was at the center of the fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She also has a journalistic streak — she writes for the Huffington Post and other outlets. (Ed’s Note: After we went to press for the print edition, Gov. Brown appointed Butler to the UC Board of Regents)
19. Tom Steyer
Tom Steyer, commonly described in media parlance as the “billionaire environmentalist,” has been — and still is — a well-heeled player in California politics. But his days of investing heavily in the Legislature and his one-time dalliance with running for governor or a U.S. Senate seat appear to have dwindled. Instead, he’s focusing on California’s No. 1 political enemy, Donald Trump, and its No. 1 environmental enemy, climate change. Steyer pumped $10.8 million into a quixotic TV ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment — an effort that drew mixed reviews from fellow Democrats. In the last election cycle, he reportedly spent $73 million across the country to elect Democrats, and last year his PACs reportedly spent $88 million to target climate change. Not all is political spending: $41 million went to Stanford University to study climate change.
20. Charles Munger Jr.
Stanford physics professor, good-government backer, big league Republican donor and possessor of one of the world’s great collections of bow ties, Charles Munger Jr. is a singular figure in the formation of California public policy. The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s business partner, Munger was one of the chief backers — to the tune of $12 million — of the 2010 initiative that created the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which removed the Legislature’s power to gerrymander legislative and congressional districts. He also pushed successfully for a state constitutional amendment that increased legislative transparency by requiring bills to be in print for 72 hours before being voted on. Munger likes to point out that back in 2006, a Democratic U. S. senator wrote a similar bill. Who was the senator? Barack Hussein Obama. Munger promises to be on the political scene in California for years to come, backing what he perceives to be needed reforms and serving as a de facto counterpoint to Democratic-oriented billionaire Tom Steyer.
21. Dustin Corcoran
If it has to do with medical issues, the 43,000-member California Medical Association can be counted on to make its presence felt. That’s been true for decades, and the man responsible for keeping it that way is the CMA’s longtime CEO, Dustin Corcoran, who has become a fixture on this list. Every year, there’s usually a major political discussion involving the doctors, like reimbursements to Medi-Cal physicians, cannabis, malpractice insurance and scope of practice, to name just a few. The CMA pushed for the Affordable Care Act and has been a major player in anti-tobacco and anti-overconsumption of sugary beverages movements. He joined the CMA in 1998 and became CEO in 2010. Before rising to the top, Corcoran was the CMA’s lobbyist, coordinator of the PAC and a senior vice president. In 2016, Corcoran served as co-chair of the successful Proposition 56, which raised the tax on tobacco by $2 a pack. CMA is currently part of a group planning a 2020 ballot initiative implementing a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
22. Aaron Read
Aaron Read & Associates bills itself as “Sacramento’s Premier Lobbying Firm.” OK, that may be a bit much, but ARA is one of Sacramento’s iconic lobbying firms, and there is an impressive list of clients to back up its claim. Among some 60 clients are AT&T, 3M Co., Sherwin-Williams, American Insurance Association, California Grocers Association, California Funeral Directors Association, Dun & Bradstreet, and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. Read has been a Capitol lobbying fixture for 50 years — Ronald Reagan was serving his first term as governor then — and he began his current firm in 1978. The firm also helps clients seeking procurement contracts with state agencies, and a sister firm, Marketplace Communications, provides graphic design, social media strategies and boasts its own broadcast studio.
23. Evan Westrup
Press Secretary Evan Westrup has handled Gov. Jerry Brown’s press chores for a decade, first in the state attorney general’s office, then in Brown’s last two campaigns for governor and now in the governor’s official office. He is one of a very few on the daily “morning call” with the governor when the day gets planned, policies get sorted out and, maybe, crises resolved. “He’s up with Brown in the morning and stays with him until he goes to bed,” said one administration official familiar with Brown’s executive suite. “Every time [the Top 100] list comes out, everyone here wonders why Evan isn’t on it.” Mea culpa: We thought Westrup answered to a communications director. Actually, despite the title, Westrup is the communications director. Factoid: Brown wants his top Horseshoe staffers to include the title “secretary,” including the point person for reporters, and Brown loathes the title “communications director.” A Democrat, Westrup worked in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press shop and in New Mexico on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
24. Nick Hardeman
The dust has settled with Senate leadership changes, with Sen. Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, taking the top slot to replace Kevin de León, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Nick Hardeman, who worked closely with Atkins when she was Assembly speaker, moved over to the Senate this year as Atkins’s chief of staff. That means Hardeman — a new father, by the way — is at the center of the Senate’s power and politics, with critical influence on legislation. A chief of staff does just about everything — manages the staff in the Capitol and district, represents Atkins at public and private events, briefs lawmakers on legislation, pushes the leader’s bills and deals with lobbyists and myriad interest groups, just to name a few chores. They also need strong political savvy, and Hardeman has it. He was exposed to politics at an early age, according to a 2006 report in Capitol Weekly: “One of Nick Hardeman’s earliest memories is sitting on his father’s shoulders at a Jesse Jackson rally during the 1984 presidential campaign.”
25. Alma Hernandez
This has been a turbulent year for organized labor, public and private, and that includes the statewide Service Employees International Union, California’s largest union with 700,000 members, and Alma Hernandez is its executive director. Immigration and affordable housing are at the top of SEIU’s political agenda. The group endorsed two November ballot measures to expand affordable housing and opposed an attempt by business interests and real-estate brokers to ease property-tax burdens on some older and disabled homeowners. On immigration, the SEIU has been in a running war with the Trump administration over its immigration policies. Then in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public employee unions can’t force nonunion workers to pay fees to the union for collective bargaining. SEIU represents some government employees, and it was not happy. Meanwhile, SEIU and Hernandez got a new president, with Roxanne Sanchez replacing Laphonza Butler (see No. 18). Like we said, a turbulent year.
26. Gale Kaufman
Election year or not, campaign strategist Gale Kaufman is busy. She’s either in the midst of a big political battle or getting ready for one, and this year is no exception. She had been girding for November ballot fights on two major issues — internet privacy and the soft-drink tax — but both wound up not going before voters. Meanwhile, she’s been busy doing independent expenditure committees for Democrats Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor, and Tony Thurmond, who is running for superintendent of public instruction. She’ll do more IEs too, but isn’t ready to disclose them yet. But first and foremost, Kaufman is the attack general for the still-powerful California Teachers Association, and that makes her one of the state’s premier political consultants. She handles business clients too — she was ready to take the “no” side in the privacy battle — but her historic importance is protector of labor and the CTA at the ballot box for the past two decades. Over the years she’s handled more than 100 state Senate and Assembly campaigns.
27. Yvonne Walker
Yvonne Walker heads SEIU Local 1000, which has 96,000 members and is the state’s largest bargaining unit. She’s been president of Local 1000 for a decade, and in May she was re-elected to another term. That’s straightforward. But it was a tough election: She got in, but three of her top lieutenants were rejected and replaced by followers of the rival who Walker defeated for the presidency. Perhaps all is tranquil now at Local 1000, perhaps not. But regardless of the internal issues, Walker, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a major player in California politics. She commands a local that represents a huge chunk of the state workforce, and that translates into political clout. She is adamantly opposed to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, backs California as a sanctuary state and wants U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents barred from labor offices.
28. Dana Williamson
Dana Williamson, long a key player in Gov. Brown’s executive suite, left the inner sanctum last year to ramp up Xavier Becerra’s campaign for attorney general, and she’s still there. But whether she’s inside the Capitol or outside, Williamson keeps a foot in both camps. She has two qualities prized by Brown — smarts and management ability — and Williamson is using them both to push Becerra, an appointee of the governor, to win his first statewide general election. Whatever her title and wherever she is — cabinet secretary, for example — Williamson always seems to wind up doing the heavy lifting.
29. Daniel Zingale
The California Endowment, a well-heeled nonprofit, is a major player in California politics, and one of the reasons it is so effective is Daniel Zingale. Formerly a top Capitol insider to both Govs. Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zingale has been the TCE’s vice president and chief political strategist in engaging Californians in campaigns to expand health care; improve the plight of poor communities; encourage people to vote; and participate in the looming census, among many, many other campaigns. By the way, all those billboards you see around the state urging “¡Vota!” are courtesy of TCE. Full disclosure: The Endowment is a major donor to Open California, the 501(c)(3) that publishes Capitol Weekly.
30. Daniel Alvarez
Daniel Alvarez is the Secretary of the Senate, which is a lofty title for administrator. He makes sure the trains run on time. He watches spending and takes out the knife if he needs to. He maintains legislative records. He’s a personnel manager. He has control over office space — an important power in the Capitol, which is honeycombed with cramped, sweaty offices. Alvarez, who started at the Legislative Analyst’s Office and worked at the Assembly fiscal committees, is a veteran of the Senate. But the Senate now has a new leader, Toni Atkins, and new leaders often bring their own people in. Thus far, that hasn’t happened, and Alvarez remains in the saddle. But there could be changes. “Stay tuned,” one staffer said.
31. Donna Lucas
When people come to Sacramento to try and figure out state politics, their contact sheet almost always includes Donna Lucas, who has worked in and around the Capitol since she worked in Gov. George Deukmejian’s press office in the 1980s. She launched Lucas Public Affairs 12 years ago, but by that time she already had established herself as a communications pro through her work at other firms. She has always had close ties to the executive suites of both Democratic and Republican administrations and during the Schwarzenegger years, Lucas served as chief of staff to Maria Shriver. She also serves on the board of the Public Policy Institute of California. And there are family connections here: Her husband is State Librarian Greg Lucas, and her brother, Kip Lipper, is the Senate’s premier environmental analyst (see No. 17).
32. Janet Napolitano
Not only did Californians create and nurture one of the largest public universities in the world, they arguably made it the best public university in the world. Guarding that heritage is University of California President Janet Napolitano, who seemed to stay out of major trouble this year. With 10 campuses, 62 Nobel laureates, 250,000 students, 21,000 faculty members and 144,000 staff, UC is a sprawling, complex and oddly governed organization, with the individual campuses and the Board of Regents looking over Napolitano’s shoulder. Napolitano is used to that sort of thing. She headed the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, and before that, she was governor of Arizona. The UC and its president are currently basking in the warm glow of public approval after the Regents approved a $60 drop in student tuition. The UC receives about 10% of its total annual budget from the state — some $3 billion — and the Capitol knows it has a tough bargainer on its hands when Napolitano comes to negotiate dollars.
33. Chris Woods
He’s an example of an expert behind-the-scenes Capitol player unknown to the public, but who has far-reaching influence on how tax dollars are spent. As the new budget guru to Senate Leader Toni Atkins, Chris Woods will be the go-to person on the Senate’s version of the state budget. Woods, who’s been on this list before, performed a similar function for then-Speaker Atkins in the Assembly, but he came over to the Senate when Atkins was elected leader of the upper house. Woods replaced Craig Cornett, who went to the California Association of Health Facilities. The budget is not small potatoes — the document signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June totals just over $200 billion. Woods makes sure that the spending priorities of the Senate and its leader are given consideration. It’s a job that requires more than a green eye shade.
34. Lori Ajax
After California voters approved legalizing recreational cannabis use in November 2016, many thought the interminable debates over marijuana consumption would finally come to an end. Not true. Just ask Lori Ajax, the chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control. She is California’s principal regulator of a complex industry that is experiencing problems, not the least of which is the still-unclear approach Attorney General Jeff Sessions will take on a marketplace that is still illegal under federal law. There are many more people who want to sell or grow marijuana than there are licenses. State regulations are still being crafted. The black market in weed is growing. Some cities allow it, some don’t. The vast revenue projections of billions of dollars annually aren’t materializing. And these are just some of the issues on her plate. Prior to her appointment, Ajax served as chief deputy director at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control where she spent 22 years working her way up the ranks, starting at the investigator trainee level.
35. Art Pulaski
Art Pulaski is another California Labor Federation official (see Angie Wei, No. 13) on this list, and for good reason — the Federation represents 2.1 million union members in more than 1,200 unions in California. Pulaski is the Federation’s executive secretary and treasurer — he’s been on the job 22 years — and one of his tasks is to capture political support for labor’s agenda. Our list is heavy with labor leaders, and that’s because labor is the lifeblood of Democrats’ campaigns in California. This is a blue state, and Pulaski is one of the reasons why. The Federation has more than doubled in size since Pulaski took office in 1996. Before that, he served for years as executive secretary of the San Mateo Labor Council.
36. Carrie Cornwell
Carrie Cornwell is steeped in the doings of California’s Capitol. She is chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, continuing the role she has played in Rendon’s office since he was a rank-and-file assemblyman before becoming speaker in 2016. Before that, Cornwell was on the other side of the Capitol, serving for nine years as chief consultant to the state Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee. She was also chief consultant to housing and transportation committees in the Assembly. She served as chief of staff to current state schools chief Tom Torlakson when he was an assemblyman and state senator. She began her Capitol life as an Assembly fellow. There is life for Cornwell outside the Capitol, however, as chair of the Sacramento County Project Planning Commission. Cornwell has degrees from UCLA and Princeton. She continues her academic life as an adjunct professor of economics at Sacramento City College and at Sierra College.
37. Bill Wong
Bill Wong has been a major political strategist for years, most closely identified with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. Wong, known as an aggressive player of political hardball, advises an array of clients, but one of his most important is Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who he serves as senior political adviser and once served as chief of staff. Wong also serves as political director for the Assembly Democrats, and he advises the Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus in the Legislature. He was chief of staff to then-Assemblywoman Judy Chu and in 2009 handled her successful special election campaign for Congress. Wong formerly advised the Asian American Small Business PAC — he left the PAC in June 2017 — which was funded by Chevron, PG&E, AT&T and others. AASB PAC paid for a controversial ad in the June Primary slamming Gavin Newsom for a 2005 affair he had when he was mayor of San Francisco that caused quite a stir and angered Democrats. Wong currently serves as Rendon’s senior political adviser.
(Updated Aug. 16, 2018)
38. Rex Frazier
Unless you’re an insurance-industry executive, a McGeorge School of Law student or closely follow California politics, you’ve probably never heard of Rex Frazier. But he’s an important figure in California politics and is well-known in the Capitol. Frazier, a former deputy insurance commissioner, is the president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California, and one of his jobs is to get legislative candidates elected who will be favorable — or at least, neutral — to the insurance industry. That entails moving money around, and Frazier has access to it. PIFC doesn’t have a lot of members, but the ones it has count — such as State Farm, Allstate, Mercury, Liberty Mutual — and Frazier gets them a bang for their buck. He’s also an adjunct professor at McGeorge School of Law.
39. Jim Brulte
On May 21, the Secretary of State’s office made it official: The Republican Party’s registration had fallen below that of voters who decline to state a party preference. It was Republicans at 25.1% of registered voters,and decline-to-state at 25.5%. Democrats continued their overwhelming registration advantage with 44.4%. It was not unexpected, but it still had to be a bitter pill for California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte, who is one of the best political strategists in California. He helped push a gas-tax repeal onto the November ballot, which may help Republican candidates across the state, and he helped engineer the recall of Sen. Josh Newman over his vote supporting raising taxes to pay for road repairs. Brulte contends with Donald Trump, perhaps the single most despised political figure in the state, and he keeps a low profile in relation to other races with high-profile incumbents, such as Devin Nunes. Brulte is soldiering on, hoping to get some good news this November by foiling Democrats’ dreams of dumping seven Republicans from Congress and taking over the House. We’ll see.
40. Courtni Pugh
Hilltop Public Solutions is a large political consulting firm with operations ranging nationwide from Alaska to New York, and its California office in Los Angeles is headed by partner Courtni Pugh, a veteran political strategist, working mostly on behalf of liberal causes. Hilltop’s California website boasts that as then-executive director of SEIU’s Local 99, Pugh headed up the workers’ side in negotiations that led to “a landmark increase in the minimum wage for Los Angeles Unified School District employees,” part of the “Fight for $15” minimum wage campaign. Pugh has been involved in high-stakes political battles for a decade, protecting Democrats in the state Senate. She was an adviser to former Senate Leader Kevin de León, and now she is his campaign manager as she takes on incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is leading Kevin de León by a 2-to-1 margin. That’s a challenge. “We are not completely crazy, we know we have our work cut out for us, but we have an opportunity here,” Pugh told the Los Angeles Times.
41. Joe Lang
Whenever we put this list together, people tell us, “You’ve got Joe Lang, right?” Yes, we do. Lang, a former Assembly staffer at the blandly named Governmental Organization Committee, is the managing partner of Lang Hansen O’Malley & Miller. Through the 2016 election cycle, LHOM billed $12.53 million, a close second to top biller KP Public Affairs, according to research by the Sacramento Business Journal. Money isn’t everything, of course — look at Capitol Weekly — but in the world of politics and policy, it counts for a lot. LHOM’s client list includes such disparate interests as the California Catholic Conference, the California Business Roundtable, Los Alamitos Race Track, the California Retailers Association, Port of San Diego, Altria, FedEx, Estee Lauder, Wal-Mart, DraftKings, etc., etc. By the way, LHOM is filled with people who should be on this list — John O’Malley, George Miller IV and Larissa Cespedes, to name a few — but there’s not enough room. Partner Bev Hansen has been on the list before.
42. Dorothy Rothrock
Dorothy Rothrock is the president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, which accurately bills itself as “the only statewide organization solely dedicated to advocating on behalf of the state’s manufacturing and technology companies.” The CMTA, with 400 companies under its belt, plays a significant role in the Capitol, and Rothrock is a big reason why. Rothrock, who’s been CMTA president since 2014, is fast and energetic and seems to be everywhere at once. She leads the association’s fight against what it regards as too much regulation, unnecessary tax increases and government meddling in the lifeblood of California’s huge economy. She argues, for example, that “California is one of only four states that imposes a sales tax on the purchase of new machinery and equipment. To tax both the ‘input’ and the final manufactured product amounts to ‘double taxation’ and is poor tax policy.” Rothrock is the first female president of the CMTA, and before ascending to the top spot, she worked as the association’s vice president of Government Affairs since 2000.
43. Jason Kinney
Jason Kinney makes it his business to know what’s going on in the Capitol and California’s political world, and he succeeds. He is part of California Strategies, a large, loose-knit communications and lobbying firm founded by Bob White, Pete Wilson’s former chief of staff. Through the summer, Kinney, devoted about half his time to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign, and the rest of his time to an array of clients, corporate and political. An important client is AT&T, and Kinney provides them tender loving care. He is credited with helping to win more than 30 political and public affairs campaigns. He served as a key adviser and speechwriter for Gray Davis, and is credited with editing or writing 1,200 speeches, which might be some sort of Capitol record. We don’t remember any of them. Kinney began his political career at age 13, when he worked on his mother’s campaign for the state Senate — in Indiana.
44. Michael Rubio
Michael Rubio is governmental affairs director at Chevron Corp., which means he heads the company’s lobbying effort. He’s not a lobbyist himself — that ended last year, according to the secretary of state — but he pushes the company’s legislative and policy goals in the Capitol. That’s a big deal. In a major development, Rubio recently brought former Assemblymember Henry Perea into the Chevron fold, wooing him from the Western States Petroleum Association. Chevron is a major Capitol player, and the maneuvering caused intense speculation in Sacramento. Interestingly, Rubio and Perea have similar trajectories. Both were born the same year, 1977; both abruptly resigned their legislative seats to work for private companies with interests in the Capitol. Both were Central Valley Democrats — Rubio in Bakersfield and Perea in Fresno. Rubio started his career at the U.S. Justice Department, then returned home and worked for state Sen. Dean Florez for four years. He was a Kern County supervisor before being elected to the Senate in 2010.
45. Keely Bosler
There’s been some turmoil and uncertainty in Brown’s inner executive circle, but it’s shaking out. And one of the reasons is Keely Bosler, Brown’s cabinet secretary, who is something of a policy wonk — more policy than politics — and who has a strong background in fiscal analysis. Titles are fluid in the Horseshoe, but as cabinet secretary, Bosler rides hard on California’s sprawling bureaucracy. It’s a key position in state government, and different people handle it differently. Bosler’s predecessor, Dana Williamson (No. 28), a much more a political animal, melded politics and policy and is currently handling Xavier Becerra’s campaign for attorney general. Bosler, who stared out at the LAO, served as chief deputy director of the Department of Finance — the powerful agency that writes the governor’s budgets and decides how much the agencies can spend — for three years before Brown appointed her cabinet secretary. Bosler, a Siskiyou County native, grew up on a farm in Scott Valley.
46. Anthony Wright
Anthony Wright is closing in on 16 years as the executive director of Health Access California, a coalition that advocates for quality and affordable health care for all Californians. The organization is based in Sacramento, and Wright works out of the 11th and L Building across the street from the Capitol. He’s had a long history of health care consumer advocacy through his support for the Affordable Care Act and Covered California and the dramatically expanded Medi-Cal program. He has a hand in virtually every piece of health care legislation that makes its way through the Capitol, and he keeps a close eye on what’s happening health care-wise in D.C. — which is a lot. Wright supports universal health care, but carefully tracks the dollars — and so far, they don’t pencil out. He’s a Bronx, New York native and a magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College.
47. Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly, formerly Brown’s secretary of transportation, has been at the forefront of some of California’s most contentious legislative initiatives, so he should be right at home at his current gig — the CEO of California’s bullet train program, the High Speed Rail Authority. As transportation secretary, Kelly was well-versed in high-speed rail; that expertise will be invaluable as he takes direct control of the project. One of his goals is to get the train on track as soon as possible, partly because Brown will leave office in January and there is uncertainty about what the next governor will do. Kelly, who served as a Senate transportation consultant under four Senate leaders, joined Brown’s administration as transportation secretary with a portfolio that included overseeing Caltrans, California’s massive state transportation agency. His bullet train gig pays nearly $390,000 — a better take than in the Senate.
48. Alastair Mactaggart
Alastair Mactaggart is the latest addition to a developing California political phenomenon — the idealistic multimillionaire. Tom Steyer and Charles Munger Jr. are earlier versions, with widely differing viewpoints on public policy. Mactaggart broke into the headlines earlier this year as the $3.5 million backer of a proposed state ballot initiative aimed at increasing internet consumer privacy protection. Silicon Valley geared up to spend millions opposing it. Mactaggart said he would withdraw his ballot measure only if an agreement could be reached on legislation increasing privacy protection was made into law. Legislation doing that was passed and signed into law only hours before the deadline after three days of intense negotiations. Assemblyman Ed Chau and Sen. Bob Hertzberg banged heads to produce the agreement. Mactaggart, who made his fortune in San Francisco real–estate development, says he became interested in boosting consumer privacy protection after talking with a Google engineer and learning how much information about their customers the high-tech giants could ascertain.
49. Diane Griffiths
Diane Griffiths, a well-liked Capitol veteran, has moved over to Senate Leader Toni Atkins’ team as a top adviser, one of a series of personnel changes involving the Senate leadership. Atkins replaced Kevin de León, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Griffiths, worked for Sen. Bob Hertzberg and retired in June 2017, but continued to assist the senator as a “senior intern.” A longtime Capitol presence, Griffiths served as Hertzberg’s chief of staff when he was Assembly speaker. Previously, she was chief of staff to the UC Board of Regents and general counsel to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Griffiths, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School, has more than 20 years’ experience with the Legislature in a variety of legal, policy and administrative positions.
50. Adama Iwu
The topic of sexual harassment dominated the winter at the capitol following the Los Angeles Times’ publication of an open letter demanding an end to the persistent harassment endured by staffers, lobbyists and even elected officials. Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh resigned, and Sen. Tony Mendoza lost his committee chairmanship in the wake of scandal. Visa senior government affairs director Adama Iwu launched the bombshell — hashtag #WeSaidEnough — drafting and circulating the letter with lobbyist Samantha Corbin following an infuriating harassment incident. The letter collected more than 140 bipartisan signatories by the time it was published on October 17. Long-suppressed stories of groping, assault and even rape were reported by hundreds of women — and even some men — in the capitol community. #WeSaidEnough landed Iwu on the cover of Time and changed the tenor of the session: Oakland rapper Too Short was abruptly cut from the annual Back to Session Bash, and the venerable (and raunchy) California Roast transformed itself into A Toast to California Women in Politics for the year.
51. Michael Quigley
Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, has spent a lifetime fighting for infrastructure and construction projects and the jobs that come along with them in California. The Alliance is the head of a coalition of several different infrastructure-building organizations. After a breakthrough with the passing of SB 1, a measure that will generate $52 billion for infrastructure projects through fuel taxes if the voters permit in November. Quigley is in for a stressful election season as the measure is at risk of being voted down through a ballot initiative. Quigley’s efforts are two-fold — not only is he fighting for a statewide infrastructure upgrade, but he’s looking out for companies and hundreds of thousands of building trade workers in California.
52. Michael Picker
Michael Picker is president of the California Public Utilities Commission, an enormously important regulator with authority over telecommunications, investor-owned utilities, natural gas entities, railroads, passenger transportation companies, and more. Picker, an appointee of Gov. Brown, has been on the job since 2014, and it’s been a turbulent period that included the aftermath and investigation of the San Bruno gas explosion and issues related to PG&E and its potential culpability in massive wildfires. Picker is measured, thoughtful and usually keeps a low profile, although he drew fire in 2015 for having back-channel communications with a consultant who had energy clients. Before being appointed PUC president by Brown, Picker had served as a rank-and-file commissioner. Before his PUC gig, Picker served under Brown as a deputy assistant to the governor for Toxic Substances Control, a deputy treasurer and a senior adviser to the governor on renewable energy. He has also worked as a consultant at Kaufman Campaigns.
53. Carmela Coyle
Carmela Coyle took over last year as the president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, a potent political force in health care politics. She replaced the retiring C. Duane Dauner, who ran the CHA staff for decades. The association represents more than 400 hospitals and health systems in California. Coyle led the Maryland Hospital Association for nine years, where her office noted that “she played a leading role in reframing the hospital payment system in Maryland and moving to a value-based methodology.” Before Maryland, Coyle spent 20 years in senior policy positions with the American Hospital Association, including 11 years as the senior vice president of policy, where she served as a national media spokesperson. Coyle currently is a member of AHA’s board of trustees. Earlier in her career, she worked for the Congressional Budget Office, advising members of Congress and their staff on the economic and budgetary implications of legislative policy.
54. Catherine Reheis-Boyd
The phrase, “It’s been a turbulent year” seems to apply to lots of folks and firms on this list, and that includes the Western States Petroleum Association, the fuel industry’s principal force in Sacramento. Catherine “Cathy” Reheis-Boyd is the president of WSPA and has been since 2010; she’s been at the center of the fierce battles with the Legislature or the governor over such petroleum issues as taxes, climate change, regulations, fracking, market forces and exploration, among others. Internally, there was tension at WSPA that included the association dropping KP Public Affairs, its longtime, blue chip lobbying firm, for which WSPA was the biggest client. The ripples of that are still being felt. The Association represents the oil industry in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona as well. Reheis-Boyd has provided a strong and consistent voice for the industry in states without oil-friendly political leadership. She received her bachelor’s of science degree in Natural Resource Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and pursued post-graduate studies in environmental engineering at the University of Southern California.
55. Steve Maviglio
Few Capitol figures can boast a background in politics as varied as Steve Maviglio. And his track record shows it: He wins and loses, but mostly wins. This year helped thwart a plan to divide California into three parts and helped an effort to reach a settlement in the major privacy fight that kept the measure from the November ballot. His top clients include the Environmental Defense Fund and Californians for Retirement Security, which advocates against pension cuts. Maviglio was the spokesman for former Gov. Gray Davis, deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speakers Fabián Núñez and Karen Bass, and was a communications consultant for a third, John Pérez. He’s worked on 25 ballot campaigns in 15 years, and his clients have included Tesla and AT&T. In Washington, Maviglio was executive director of the House Democratic Caucus. And if all that wasn’t enough, Maviglio started out in politics on the other side of the continent as a member of New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, where he served three terms.
56. Barry Brokaw
Barry Brokaw heads Sacramento Advocates, a longtime Capitol player with such clients as Microsoft, Western Union, Kraft Foods and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, He joined the firm in 1993, and now is one of the top lobbyists in Sacramento. Before lobbying, he served nearly two decades in the Capitol as a staffer, including 18 years with state Sen. Daniel Boatwright of Concord. The Brokaw family tradition in politics continues — Barry’s son Brian managed Kamala Harris’ successful campaign for attorney general and played a key role in the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016. His youngest son Nick works for Sacramento Advocates. Factoid: Few remain in Sacramento who can boast of having served on the staff of the late Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh, but Barry Brokaw can.
57. Mike Belote
Mike Belote is the president of California Advocates, one of California’s first contract lobbying firms and one its most respected. The firm represents blue chip companies like Apple, Delta Airlines, Equifax, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, NRG and more, and dozens of associations in diverse areas such as real estate, health care, law, agriculture and others. They also have a sizable presence in water — always a critical factor in California. A second division of the firm constitutes one of Sacramento’s largest association management operations. Belote’s philanthropic activities have supported Volunteers of America, the Public Legal Services Society at McGeorge law school, and My Sister’s House, an organization focused on domestic violence and trafficking in the Asian Pacific Islander community. The latter bestowed Mike with its 2017 “Civic Hero of Hope” award, presented to him by California’s chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. Full disclosure: Belote serves on the board of Open California, publisher of Capitol Weekly.
58. Kevin Sloat
Kevin Sloat, the principal and founder of Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates, is a regular on this list, someone who we have described, accurately, as “an acknowledged and respected Sacramento power player.” His dozens of clients include the California Business Roundtable, Anheuser-Busch, the California Trucking Association, Foster Farms, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California among others. He worked as a chief of staff in the Legislature as Legislative Secretary in Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration, then left there in 1997 to launch his own lobbying firm. He had himself and one support-staff person, but the firm grew speedily, with both corporate and public-sector clients. In 2014, he paid a $133,500 fine for lobby-law violations, but the rebuke appears to have been little more than a speed bump, and he remains a respected figure in political circles.
59. Darius Anderson
Darius Anderson has stepped back from the day-to-day fray in Sacramento and is concentrating on his real estate and other interests in the Bay Area, but his Platinum Advisors lobbying firm maintains an aggressive presence here. He also had a chance to celebrate this year: He’s a publisher of the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, and his paper won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the devastating wine country wildfires. Platinum’s clients include the Hearst Corporation (owner of The San Francisco Chronicle) and UPS, among others. Many others. Anderson does not confine himself to politics: He is a leader in the Treasure Island Development Project, a $6 billion redoing of the former naval station and 1939 World’s Fair site. Anderson also was instrumental in the effort to keep the Kings NBA team in Sacramento and later sued on grounds that he was shut out of team ownership. If you’re ever stuck in an elevator with him, ask about his collection of Jack London memorabilia.
60. John Latimer
John Latimer is managing partner of Capitol Advocacy, which has seven lobbyists and two legislative analysts who target business regulation, tort reform, consumer concerns and environmental regulation, among other issues. There are scores of clients, including Comcast, American Airlines, 21st Century Fox, a number of cities in San Diego County, Jack in the Box and L.A. County, to name a handful. After a stint as a Capitol staffer, Latimer tried a 1998 run for an Assembly seat, but was defeated in the primary. That may have been a blessing in disguise, however, because a year later he set up his own lobbying shop and the rest, as they say, is history. When he was in the Capitol, he served as a top consultant to key committees, including Assembly Appropriations, Assembly Governmental Organization and Assembly Transportation Committee, as well as chief of staff to a member. His issues included tax policy, infrastructure finance, alcoholic beverage policy, environmental regulation, health care and utility de-regulation. Capitol Advocacy handles most of those issues, and more, so his years spent in the Legislature proved valuable, indeed.
61. Amy Brown
Amy Brown, who specializes in pension, retirement and — lately — energy issues, is one of the best known lobbyists in Sacramento as well as one of the most traveled — it seems like she’s always on the road. Her firm, DiMare, Brown, Hicks & Kessler, has an array of clients, including a number of cities and public jurisdictions that DBHK advises on pensions matters. Prior to her work with DBHK, she was a legislative representative for the League of California Cities, advocating on behalf of all 478 cities in the state. She travels the state constantly, conducting seminars on retirement issues and educating retirees — and others — about their options. So while she’s Sacramento-based, Brown also has something of a statewide profile — an unusual characteristic for a capitol lobbyist. She’s also handled workers compensation insurance issues — she served on the Commission on Health, Safety and Workers Compensation — and she helped draft major changes to the industry that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law. DBHK may go through a name change in the fall, following the departure of Jodi Hicks (No. 69), who went to Mercury Public Affairs.
62. Paula Treat
Paula Treat runs a one-horse shop — her — but it’s mighty impressive. Her client list includes the California Medical Association, Tesla, two major tribes and Southern California Edison, and her energy, savvy and deep knowledge of the Capitol enables her to handle them all — and others too. Treat, who just moved her office to the Senator, started lobbying in 1977, when young Jerry Brown had lots of hair and was two years into his first (of many) years as governor. She is able to work with friends on both sides of aisle, and indeed at one time or another has been involved in both Republican and Democratic party affairs. In 1987, Treat established the first woman-owned contract lobbying firm, with offices in Carson City and Sacramento. With this résumé it was no surprise that Treat had her own #MeToo moments — she documented harassment by the late Assemblyman Lou Papan in a soul-baring Op Ed in the Sacramento Bee last year. But she ended the piece on a positive note: “We women are at the table, and we’re not leaving.”
63. David Townsend
For more than 35 years, David Townsend has been a fixture on the Capitol scene, managing initiative campaigns and advising associations, candidates and corporations on the ins and outs of political decision-making. He founded Townsend Raimundo Besler & Usher, one of Sacramento’s best-known political consulting firms, and now he’s got a new gig at Townsend Calkin Tapio Public Affairs, an amalgam of Townsend, Kelly Calkin and Chris Tapio. Over the years, Townsend’s operation has boasted an 80% win record, and it’s probably true. One of his biggest successes has been the growth of the Mod Dem Caucus — which early on met in Townsend’s Midtown office to plan their political strategy. Townsend and his allies nurtured the “Mod Squad,” making the group a force to be reckoned with. Townsend, who started out as a Capitol consultant, has his fingers in a lot of pies: He’s past president of the board of the Crocker Art Museum and is on the boards of KVIE and the Sacramento Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as the board of Sacramento Women Escaping A Violent Environment.
64. Fiona Hutton
Fiona Hutton leads a Los Angeles-based political consulting firm involved in any number of projects, ranging from water development to the now-defunct gubernatorial campaign of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The Villaraigosa venture was unusual – she usually wins. She is a master of the complex, swirling combinations of factors that go into the making of public policy in our huge and diverse state. Although based in Southern California, Hutton’s firm reaches across the state, emphatically including Sacramento, where her presence is felt in debates involving health care, regulations and energy, among other things. Hutton serves on the board of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and — full disclosure — the board of Open California, the nonprofit publisher of Capitol Weekly. Hutton founded her firm in 2001, growing it from a small boutique operation to a mid-sized firm today that promises to have a continuing presence in California politics and policy. It’s been noted before — it’s better to have her for you than against you.
65. Carrie Gordon
With 27,000 dentist members spread across 32 local dental societies, the CDA is a large organization, and those dentists have a sizeable amount of self-interest wrapped up in Capitol doings. Their chief protector is Carrie Gordon, the chief strategy officer of the California Dental Association. She brings a lot to bear on their behalf. During her 16 years with the association, she served as the CDA’s vice president for governmental affairs and chief lobbyist before ascending to her present position. One priority has been expanding and funding Denti-Cal, aimed at providing dental care for low-income Californians. In addition, CDA and the California Medical Association are co-sponsoring a ballot measure for the November 2020 election to establish a statewide two-cents-per-ounce tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages. The ballot measure is designed to take a bite out of a soda industry success in legislation imposing a 12-year moratorium on any local soda tax.
66. Andrew Antwih
Lobbyist Andrew Antwih does a bit of everything, but he is perhaps best known for his work on transportation issues. During a 12-year stint in the Capitol, he served eight years as chief consultant to the Assembly Transportation Committee. He’s a partner in Shaw Yoder Antwih, which handles a numerous local governments, including cities and counties, as well as a number of energy clients. Antwih, who started his legislative career as a Senate Fellow in 1994, served on former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s staff as the chief legislative representative to Los Angeles. Antwih, who is from south Los Angeles, joined his current lobbying firm in 2008.
67. Scott Wetch
The ever-aggressive Scott Wetch works for trade unions such as State Pipe Trades Council, Building and Construction Trades Council and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others. He will go to the extreme to boost trade unions interests — he’s said so himself — “I do whatever I can to give a competitive advantage to unionized employees,” Wetch told the Los Angeles Times. Wetch serves as the head of a barebones staff at Carter, Wetch and Associates from his office on the corner of I and 13th streets, but that doesn’t take away from his immense influence at the Capitol a few blocks away. Wetch has earned a reputation as a notorious bill killer if legislation coming out of the Capitol is outside of his constituents interests. This year, Wetch has looked out for trade unions’ interests while figuring out how to provide financial relief for the thousands affected by wildfires up and down the state last summer and fall. He worked at the Capitol in the Senate and Assembly for over 12 years prior to teaming up with his now-retired lobbying partner Art Carter.
68. Rusty Hicks
Rusty Hicks (no relation to lobbyist Jodi, No. 69) is the executive director of one of America’s largest labor federations, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Hicks is tasked with leading 300 unions and 800,000 members in the fight for labor and union rights. Hicks’ quick ascent is nearly unparalleled — he is still a couple birthdays away from turning 40. His family’s long history of public service inspired him to military servie: Hicks holds the rank of Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve and he served a year in Afghanistan in 2013. Outside of his work with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Hicks helped organize, qualify and pass Proposition 28 modifying legislative term limits in the California state legislature and served as the California Political Director for the 2008 Obama for America campaign.
69. Jodi Hicks
Jodi Hicks is best known in the Capitol for her lobbying on medical issues, and rightly so. She was head lobbyist at the California Medical Association, then left to become a partner at DiMare, Brown, Hicks & Kessler, where she specialized in health-care-related interests. Hicks was at the center of the vaccination debate a few years ago, a role that suited her fine, even after the anti-vaxxers started stalking her. Hicks has also been prominent in the #MeToo movement, and her account of being hassled by a lawmaker 15 years ago is part of the movement’s narrative. Her work situation is changing this year, however, because she’s moving to Mercury Public Affairs, a national and international communications firm, to become Mercury’s national co-chair, the first woman to hold that title. Disclosure: She’s on the board at Open California, the nonprofit publisher of Capitol Weekly.
70. Rob Lapsley
Rob Lapsley has been president of the nonprofit, pro-business California Business Roundtable since 2011, and he’s engaged in issues of taxation, economic projections, environmental rules, regulatory conduct, infrastructure, education — just about anything that affects California’s business climate. Lapsley, an Air Force veteran, has solid political chops — he used to be political director at the California Chamber of Commerce — so he knows the ins and outs of the Capitol’s political wars, a definite help in deeply blue state where pro-business advocates are viewed with suspicion. Lapsley served as chief of staff to former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, a Republican and one of California’s last Republican statewide officeholders. The Roundtable has a strong data and research component and recently launched the nonpartisan California Center for Jobs and the Economy.
71. John Myers
We figure the Sacramento bureau chief of the L.A. Times — notice we didn’t call it the El Segundo Times — needs to be on this list, and John Myers makes that a very easy call. Myers is comfortable with radio, television, print and online, and that’s a big plus in a world where terse word bursts fill the landscape. He’s fast on stories that offer depth — no easy feat — and the bureau still provides big stories with detail. Perhaps the biggest story recently was the Times’ publication of a letter signed by more than 140 women that described rampant sexual misconduct in the Capitol, a story that was quickly chased and matched by others covering the #MeToo movement. Before coming to the Times, Myers was Capitol bureau chief for KQED in San Francisco and served a stint as a political reporter for Channel 10, the ABC outlet in Sacramento. He is a product of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and earlier graduated from Duke University.
72. Peter Lee
Peter Lee has a tough and politically charged job: He is the executive director of Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, which has come under repeated fire by the Trump administration. Covered California has served more than 3.5 million Californians since it first began offering coverage in 2014. Not only must Lee manage the challenges involved in a nervous, fluctuating health insurance market, he must do so in the face of undying enmity from Washington Republicans, including California’s own congressional delegation. The exchange announced in July last year that rates would climb by 8.7 percent in 2019, adding that “Without the federal decision to eliminate the individual mandate penalty, which added between 2.5 and 6 percentage points to the rates, consumers would be seeing a rate change closer to 5 percent.” Lee is a native Californian and came back to his native state after serving in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.
73. Marty Wilson
Marty Wilson’s lofty official title is executive vice president of public affairs for the California Chamber of Commerce. But the big piece of that is politics as much as public affairs. Wilson played key roles in Pete Wilson’s campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, and he’s worked in public and private communications. But he is perhaps best known for his political work with the Chamber’s political action committees, which are among the best financed and most aggressive in the state. There’s ChamberPAC, which backs business-friendly candidates and lawmakers; CalBusPAC, which handles ballot initiatives; and, the best known of the three, JobsPAC, described as an “employer-based independent committee that supports pro-jobs candidates.” Before joining the Chamber, Wilson was at Wilson-Miller Communications for seven years, and prior to that was managing director of Public Strategies in Sacramento.
74. Jonathan Ross
Jon Ross, a partner at KP Public Affairs, is an expert in financial services law, which means he handles such clients as Citigroup, the California Mortgage Bankers Association and Morgan Stanley, among others. He was the first outside lobbyist retained by Google (in 2006), and subsequently was retained by other technology leaders, including Cisco, Airbnb and Lyft. The result is that he has become a key voice on virtually all issues impacting Silicon Valley. That’s a lot of heavyweight financial power with a lot at stake in the Capitol. This year, Ross was in the middle of the legislative debate over new data privacy requirements, which ended this year with a bill signed by Gov. Brown and no ballot measure. He started his lobbying career with the San Francisco law firm of Landels, Ripley and Diamond, which he left in 1996 to help start the predecessor firm to KP Public Affairs. KP, by the way, went through internal turmoil this year when it lost the Western States Petroleum Association as a client.
75. Ed Manning
Ed Manning also is a partner at KP, Sacramento’s highest billing lobbying firm through the 2015-2016 election cycle, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. He represents an array of water and energy interests, and is always in the mix whether it be as one of the leaders of the fight against the water tax or on major energy issues such as regional transmission and wildfires. And just as housing has become one of the most contentious issues in the Capitol. After a multi-year hiatus Manning is once again lobbying on behalf of home builders and developers by representing the California Housing Alliance. He also lobbies state government agencies such as the Cal-EPA, the Air Resources Board, the state water board and others. Like his partner Jon Ross (No. 74), Manning previously was a partner in a law firm and helped lead KP in transitioning from its prior incarnation as Kahl Pownall.
76. Fabian Núñez
Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez is a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, a big-ticket, international lobbying and communications company. He knows the Capitol inside and out, is a lifelong friend of former Senate Leader Kevin de León (who’s running for the U.S. Senate) and is well-versed in carbon emissions, having pushed the landmark law AB 32. But one of his big successes this year had nothing to do with lobbying or communications, as such. Rather, it was a personnel move: Núñez brought veteran lobbyist Jodi Hicks into the Mercury fold, along with three of Hicks’ colleagues at DiMare, Brown, Hicks & Kessler. This is all but certain to boost Mercury’s reach in the Capitol, not that it needs it. Mercury has 300 clients worldwide and 17 offices and its staff tracks the Capitol’s political wars closely.
77. Paul Mitchell
Paul Mitchell is a data man, numbers cruncher, political junkie, statistician and handicapper. You put that all together, and you come up with an elections analyst who really knows his stuff. His CA 120 column is a must read for anyone who follows California politics. His first piece years ago in Capitol Weekly identified the proportionally greater influence on statewide elections of Northern California voters compared with those in Southern California based on per-capita turnout. Sounds obvious now, but wasn’t then, and it caused quite a stir. Since then, he’s drilled down to the bone of election after election, and he’s given sophisticated analyses of voter registration figures over the years, including 2018. Mitchell extrapolates hidden election truths from raw numbers. He’s vice president of Political Data, Inc., which markets and analyzes data for campaigns, and he owns Redistricting Partners, which develops political mapping.
78. Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera is new on this list, but she’s a top gun at the California Chamber of Commerce and deserves to be here. She’s the Chamber’s senior vice president for policy, and represents the Chamber on legal reform issues. “Legal reform” sounds suspiciously like “tort reform,” which in turn sound suspiciously like “screw the trial bar,” but we could be wrong, and probably are. Among other things, she advises businesses on complying with changes in employment laws, and she advises the Chamber on labor, jobs and taxation — a wide portfolio. Before coming to the Chamber, Barrera worked at a statewide law firm that targeted labor-management issues, representing employers in state and federal courts an an array of topics, including breach of contract, wage and hour disputes, discrimination and harassment.
79. Mark Macarro
Mark Macarro is the elected chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, and is viewed as one of the most influential tribal voices in California. The Pechanga tribe runs the largest casino in California, but respect for Macarro stems from more than just that. He is seen as a sort of successor to Richard Milanovich, the late chair of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, who died in 2012. Pechanga’s Temecula casino helps provide it with resources to exert political clout in Sacramento, and as a funding source for campaigns and candidates. Disputes over online poker have dominated tribal Capitol concerns for years. But in its place is a new gaming issue drawing the tribes’ attention: online sports betting. Legislation is being prepared to legalize sports betting in California, and many of the casino-owning tribes are all but certain to be involved in negotiating the legislation.
80. Jeff Grubbe
Six years ago, Jeff Grubbe was elected chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a tribe of just under 500 members that owns several casinos and resorts on 32,000 acres of land in and around Palm Springs. It is a powerful, affluent tribe and its assets are one of the region’s biggest economic drivers, with big impacts in the Coachella Valley. In Sacramento, Grubbe is seen as a key tribal player and as an increasingly prominent leader in Indian Country. Nationally, Native American leaders have been watching Grubbe’s legal battle with two local water districts over groundwater rights. Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the tribe has federally extended groundwater rights dating back to the creation of the reservation in the 1870s. In July, the agencies (the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency) appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which has not yet said whether it will take the case. And in November, the U.S. Supreme Court decined to hear the case, which means Agua Caliente’s groundwater rights will stand.
81. Lynn Valbuena
If we had to pick one person who has educated us about tribal issues, it would be Lynn Valbuena, the chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the head of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations. Valbuena, the great-great-granddaughter of Yuhaaviatam tribal leader Santos Manuel, leads a major casino-owning tribe and has been involved in political discussions over online gaming and sports betting. But Valbuena — like many tribal leaders — is involved in numerous other issues as well, including women’s rights, social and environmental justice, sovereignty, and income disparity. She is viewed within the tribal world as a peacemaker and a canny negotiator, and she plays a significant role in the regular gatherings of tribal officials from across California. Her reputation extends beyond California: She’s a former trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and has been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame by the American Gaming Association.
82. Nancy Drabble
The trial bar is a powerful force in Sacramento, and one of the reasons why is Nancy Drabble, the CEO and chief lobbyist for the Consumer Attorneys of California, which seems to always be involved in the big issue of the year. This time around, it was privacy, and Drabble played an important role in guiding and shaping the policy discussion in the run-up to the passage of Senate Bill 375, the landmark data privacy bill that drew national attention. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill immediately, thus forestalling a similar measure from appearing on the November ballot. During an earlier session in 2015-16, Drabble’s group had 10 sponsored bills signed into law, including major legislation to bar consideration of immigration status in civil cases. That was important then, but it is even more important now, with the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency and the federal government’s opposition to California’s immigration laws.
83. Cesar Diaz
The State Building and Construction Trades Council is one of California’s most important labor groups, and its fingerprints are all over major issues. One of the most recent: The push for money to fix California’s crumbling roads and infrastructure. The point man for SBCTC was Cesar Diaz, the organization’s legislative and political director. Diaz was involved in the negotiations that finally pushed the multibillion dollar package through the Legislature. Now the question is whether the package, its money based on a fuel tax increase, will survive the repeal attempt on the November ballot. SBCTC is involved in that fight and already is gearing up for a major deep-pockets campaign. Before he became legislative director eight years ago, he served four years as deputy legislative director. Before that, Diaz served as senior policy consultant in the lieutenant governor’s office.
84. Ace Smith
SCN Strategies — that stands for the surnames of Ace Smith, Sean Clegg and Dan Newman — seems to be doing everything this election year, and it’s no surprise. Smith, a 30-year political veteran, is Gov. Jerry Brown’s go-to political consultant and has handled the governor’s election campaigns. He’s done U.S. Senate campaigns for Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and SCN ran Kamala Harris’ campaign for state attorney general and Gavin Newsom’s lieutenant governor campaign. Smith also ran the successful Proposition 30 campaign in 2012, a major lift, in which voters approved, temporarily raising taxes to balance California’s deficit-riddled budget. A behind-the-scenes factoid: SCN always presents us with a problem for our list. Do we pick Smith, the grand old poo-bah of the outfit? Do we pick Clegg, who has been on the list before? Do we pick Newman? Or do we pick any of the other seven campaign experts at SCN? We picked Smith, because it’s Brown’s final period in office and Smith, who may be retiring soon, just published a book on baseball legend Satchel Paige. Homage paid.
85. Scott Day
Scott Day is the associate executive director of the politically powerful California Teachers Association, which translates into being the point man for the CTA in the Capitol and coordinator of their lobbying and strategy efforts. That title was held for years by Joe Nuñez (No. 16), who has since moved on to become executive director of the entire CTA. Over the past couple of years, a number of people have urged us to put Day on this list, arguing that he is the linchpin of the CTA’s political operation in Sacramento (Nuñez is based in Burlingame) and narrowly more significant here than Nuñez. Our jury is still out on this, so we put them both on the list, but gave Nuñez a higher number. Problem solved. What’s next?
86. Jim DeBoo
Speaking of people whose names come up repeatedly when we ask our sources who should be — but isn’t — on the list… This time around, quite a few mentioned Democratic political consultant Jim DeBoo. DeBoo spent years as a staffer, but these days he provides strategic consulting and runs an IE, which “has participated in 22 legislative races and achieved a near 90% winning percentage for those targeted races,” according to his website. DeBoo was the campaign manager for the successful Yes on Proposition 56 campaign, bringing in 64% yes votes, despite being wildly outspent by the “No” side. DeBoo has a broad range of political experience: He was chief of staff for Assemblyman Pedro Nava and Speaker John A. Pérez, served as the legislative liaison for L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and served as special adviser to former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.
87. Christy Bouma
Relatively few Californians outside the Capitol know of Christy Bouma, but if you’re involved in pushing or defeating a particular piece of legislation she’s interested in, you definitely are aware of her. As the head of the Capitol Connection lobbying firm, Bouma is the top lobbyist for the 30,000-member California Professional Firefighters, which has been a major player in California politics and a strong backer of Gov. Jerry Brown. She has deep roots in CPF — her father, Brian Hatch, was once its president. Bouma connected with CPF after an 11-year stint in Southern California as a mathematics and computer science teacher. She also represents the Consumer Attorneys of California and serves as president of a trade association for lobbyists called the Institute of Governmental Advocates. Bouma’s firefighters are much in the headlines this year, heroically battling giant wildfires up and down the state, risking their lives. What’s not in the headlines is that, behind the scenes, CPF had a leadership change and elected a new president.
88. David Lesher
Dave Lesher is the CEO and executive editor at CALmatters, a newish nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism site covering government, politics, policy and money — and the intersection of all of those. CALmatters’ donors, who include Silicon Valley interests, believe the site ultimately will be sustainable, and thus far, it certainly is, with CALmatters meeting its fundraising goals and expanding its 25-member staff under Lesher’s supervision. CALmatters’ staff includes reporters and editors formerly at the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee and other outlets, and CALmatters’ senior editor is Dan Morain, (see No. 91) a veteran L.A. Times reporter in Sacramento and Bee editorial page editor. The CALmatters board also includes former editors at both the Bee and the Times. Lesher worked at the Los Angeles Times in Sacramento, covering politics and the state Capitol and has served as editor of the California Journal. All that experience comes in handy as he directs what has become the largest capitol bureau in the state.
89. V. John White
The Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies is a Sacramento-based organization based on a partnership of major environmental groups and private-sector clean-energy companies. It has fought for clean energy and against climate change since 1990, proclaiming the time has come to build “the new energy economy” — one less dependent on fossil fuels. Executive director V. John White has led CEERT advocacy before the Legislature, the Air Resources Board and the Public Utilities Commission. He has been a catalyst in bringing green-energy organizations together under the CEERT banner, making him, in the eyes of many, the greenest figure in the greenest state. One of his priorities is bringing large utilities together across the state to improve cooperation among them and the statewide power grid. There have been no reports of White being hung in effigy at gatherings of fossil-fuel executives, but he probably would not be a guest of honor there, either.
90. Shari McHugh
Mention insurance around the Capitol, and sooner or later, Shari McHugh’s name comes up. Located in the Senator office building directly across L Street from the Capitol, the boutique lobbying firm of McHugh, Koepke & Associates represents the Hartford, the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors of California, and the Pacific Association of Domestic Insurance Companies. The firm’s clients also include the California Adult Education Administration Association; the American Beverage Association, made up of soft-drink companies; the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States; and the Shell Oil Company. The firm boasts that it can bring to bear 40 years of experience on behalf of clients. McHugh, Koepke & Associates is a family affair, started in 2000 by Gavin McHugh. Spouse Shari joined in 2003. She has history with the insurance industry: She served as senior vice president of the Coalition of California Insurance Professionals and senior vice president of the Professional Insurance Agents.
91. Dan Morain
As one of the latest heavyweight writers to join CALmatters (see No. 88), Dan Morain devotes himself to revealing and explaining things that go on in the Capitol that affect his readers’ lives. It’s a difficult task, but he manages to do it. His topics range from the looming possibility that Californians may be forced to limit water use to “Why Rich People Leave California. Or Don’t.” Morain spent seven years as the editorial page editor and political columnist for The Sacramento Bee, and before that, he was with the Los Angeles Times for 27 years. Between the Times and the Bee, Morain spent nine months working in public relations for Consumer Attorneys of California. He has walked the marble halls of the Capitol and the filthy sidewalks of Los Angeles’ skid row. Even though he has spent the latest years of his career writing columns on politics and public policy, he still has a reporter’s eye for the telling detail, pointing out in his skid row piece how denizens with more status occupy the sides of streets shaded by trees.
92. Melanie Mason
The highest-profile story of the year in Sacramento was the explosion of sexual misconduct scandals that engulfed the Capitol and saw the birth of the #WeSaidEnough movement. Detailed, painful allegations were made public by scores of women who described years of harassment at the hands of lawmakers, legislative employees, lobbyists and others following publication of an open letter signed by about 150 women that contained a litany of misconduct, some of it criminal. L.A. Times reporter Melanie Mason has been the Boswell of the movement, chronicling the episode from the very beginning. Her first report — and numerous follow-ups by the Times and other news outlets — paralleled the intense national coverage of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of criminal sexual misconduct. Mason works out of the LAT’s Sacramento bureau, where she covers state government and politics. Before that, she worked in D.C., where she covered money and politics during the 2012 presidential campaign. She is originally from Los Angeles and is a graduate of Georgetown University and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
93. Jim Wunderman
The nine-county San Francisco Bay Area is bustling, prosperous and a home to innovation. It is also overcrowded, expensive and plagued by thousands of homeless men and women. As president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, Jim Wunderman deals with the good, the bad and the ugly. One of his chief jobs is advocating for billions in state and federal dollars to improve infrastructure, including transportation projects. The Council prides itself on a “regionalist” approach to the area’s challenges, emphasizing the role of business leaders. Wunderman’s Bay Area connections go waaaay back. He served as special assistant to Dianne Feinstein when she was mayor of San Francisco, as well as chief of staff to Mayor Frank Jordan. He was chairman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce board and is a visiting professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, teaching a course in executive leadership. Wunderman has been the Council’s CEO since April 2004.
94. McNally Temple
The long-standing firm of McNally Temple Associates offers pretty much one-stop shopping for a candidate or cause. Want strategic consulting? MTA is there. Need some graphic design help for your campaign materials? MTA again. Communicating your message clearly and attractively? Look no further. Ray McNally, president and creative director, founded the firm in 1980. Richard Temple joined in 1992. Clients, mostly Republican-leaning, have included Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Gov. Pete Wilson, and former insurance-commissioner-seeking-a-comeback Steve Poizner, along with the California State Chamber of Commerce and the California Republican Party. The mustached McNally can boast of a perhaps more exotic background than many political types. He studied playwriting at UC Davis and has done communications training for candidates and political parties in Nigeria, Mongolia, Iraq, Egypt, Mexico, Malaysia and Russia. Temple, who, rumor has it, has been shorn of his ’stache, is a fellow UC Davis graduate and worked in the California Legislature for more than a decade as a political director and caucus chief of staff.
95. Robin Swanson
You’ve heard for decades about “high-powered public relations executives” in Hollywood movies, right? Well, meet one right here in Sacramento. She’s Robin Swanson, head of Swanson Communications. Normally a Democratic-leaning operative, Swanson has been outspoken in her opposition to the Trump administration and worked with wealthy San Francisco real-estate developer Alastair Mactaggart on behalf of a proposed ballot initiative increasing privacy protection for customers of large internet corporations. Swanson Communications bills itself as expert in crisis communications, managing legislative races and strategizing ballot measure campaigns. Swanson has more than once been hailed as a “rising star,” yet can boast of 20 years’ experience in the trenches. She has been a regular analyst and commentator on Fox and CNN, as well as local television station KCRA. In addition to managing campaigns, Swanson Communications conducts media training sessions, where politicians are taught the longtime art of getting their message across, no matter what questions may come from those nasty newsies.
96. Ann Notthoff
She works out of her San Francisco office, but Annie Notthoff, director of California advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, has a significant presence in Sacramento. NRDC has been a tough defender of Assembly Bill 32, California’s most prominent legislation addressing climate change, and has also helped enact a host of environmental-protection laws, including the Marine Life Protection Act, the Clean Car Act and the Global Warming Solutions Act. Right now, Notthoff is fighting the Trump administration’s plan to open offshore California waters to a resumption of oil drilling. NRDC is pinning its hopes on two current bills — AB 1775, and Senate Bill 834. They would ban construction of new infrastructure in state waters to 3 miles out to support drilling. She’s also supporting AB 1884, Ian Calderon’s bill that would require restaurants to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request in an effort to cut back on plastic pollution.
97. Roger Salazar
Political strategist Roger Salazar, the head of ALZA Strategies, has been involved in so many campaigns that it’s hard to keep track. This year, he’s on Xavier Becerra’s campaign for state attorney general, Kevin de León’s U.S. Senate run and incumbent Doris Matsui’s House of Representatives re-election bid. His clients include the California Latino PAC, Univision, the city of Brisbane and others. Earlier, he helped organize Families and Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa and the Secure Choice Retirement Program backed by AARP California. Before founding ALZA, Salazar was managing director of the Mercury Public Affairs office in Sacramento. Salazar’s communications roots run deep: He worked on communications in the Clinton White House and was a spokesman for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. He is a graduate of the University of Redlands, where he currently serves on its board of trustees. He also received a master’s degree from the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
98. Amy Chance
It’s been a tough year at The Sacramento Bee — I know, we said that last year too — but the Bee’s Capitol bureau with political editor Amy Chance stays deep in the game, covering state politics with the same aggression and energy that it showed for decades. There is a crop of young reporters and ever-changing bylines, but Chance and bureau chief Dan Smith hire first-rate young newsies and keep the pressure on. Somehow, the Capitol bureau seemed to emerge unscathed from the round of layoffs that rocked the paper. Coverage by the Bee, as the principal newspaper in the capital, influences politics and policy as it keeps an eye on the day-to-day operations of the government. Meanwhile, the Bee — L.A. Times competition is fierce in Sacramento.
99. George Skelton
There’s not a whole lot we can say about George Skelton that we haven’t said before. But in addition to being a first-rate columnist for the Los Angeles Times, he embodies a journalistic tradition: He watches everyone in power with the same level gaze and challenges them all. His bluntly written prose invariably angers some. On repealing the gas tax: Politics “is what the repeal effort is mostly about. It’s not so much about killing a tax increase. It’s about saving Republican U.S. House members who are in danger of losing their seats to Democrats in November.” Earlier, referring to the gas tax, Skelton wrote, “His clever campaign ploy eight years ago has come back to bite Gov. Jerry Brown as he packs to leave office while fighting to save an unpopular gas tax increase.” Skelton was a United Press International reporter, and has been at newspapers — mainly the L.A. Times — for decades. Anyone who wants to keep on top of California politics is well advised to read Skelton, not only because of his knowledge, but because he’s always a fun read and never doctrinaire.
100. Amy Jenkins
It wasn’t that long ago (2015, cough, cough) that the cannabis industry was derided or dismissed outright at the Capitol, and pot advocates were seen as hopeless outsiders. No more. With the passage of Proposition 64, the longtime outlaw industry is quickly being transformed into the “Green Rush,” and lobbyist Amy Jenkins has positioned herself as one of the go-to advocates for the cannabis industry. As a lobbyist for the blue chip Platinum Advisors firm and senior policy director at the California Cannabis Industry Association, Jenkins brings prestige and expertise to a trade more associated with jeans and Birkenstocks than tailored suits. Before joining Platinum in 2014, she served as chief of staff to Sen. Lou Correa, and before that, she was a program director for the League of California Cities. Nicknamed “Pot Girl” in a glowing April 2017 profile by Dan Morain, Jenkins has carved a unique niche in a unique industry: “Jenkins, having seized an opportunity to get in early, is shaping laws that will affect a newly legalized and commercialized business for years to come.”