Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 List

41. John Latimer
Lobbyist John Latimer founded Capitol Advocacy 15 years ago and the client list now includes California retailers, the pharmaceutical coalition, big tobacco and more. A former Capitol staffer who spent a decade in the building, Latimer tried a 1998 run for an Assembly seat, but got whacked 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, healthcare and utility de-regulation. Capitol Advocacy handles most of those issues, and more, so his years spent in the Legislature proved valuable, indeed.

42. Dorothy Rothrock
If there’s one person whose name always comes up when talking about experts in business regulation, it’s Dorothy Rothrock. She is the VP of government relations at the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. That means her task is to protect businesses from what she says are unnecessary regulations, tax increases and costly workplace changes. That’s a full plate in a Capitol dominated by Democratic supermajorities in both houses, but Rothrock wages an effective fight, day in and day out. She testifies at hearings, appears on TV and radio and pens op-eds to get her message out. She also is brisk, friendly and aggressive at the same time, a combination that helps her get the point across. She’s lost some and won some but, to steal a cliché, always shows up for the fight.  She and her boss, CMTA President Jack Stewart, represent the heft of some 30,000 companies and 1.5 million employees. Numbers count in the Capitol and those are big numbers.

43,lDavid Quintana
Attorney David Quintana, a partner at the Sacramento firm of Gonzalez, Quintana and Hunter, was instrumental in building the California Tribal Business Alliance, a coalition of casino-owning tribes, into a Capitol political force which joins in the high-stakes political battles over casino and online gaming. These battles seem to resume every year, giving Capitol Weekly plenty of fodder for coverage and conferences. Quintana, a product of Boston College with a quick eye for detail and the implications of legislation, is a solid negotiator, and if there’s any issue that needs deft negotiating, it’s online gaming.  Previously, he was a principal in GroupQ consulting. His lobby client list goes far beyond gaming, and includes Facebook, the Consumer Attorneys of California, the city of Los Angeles, the Sierra Club, the Remington Arms Co., the San Diego County Water Authority, and others.

44. Terry Brennand
The Service Employees International Union is a pervasive force in California politics – it represents some 700,000 workers, everybody from janitors to university employees to state workers. And the key instrument of SEIU’s political operation is Terry Brennand, the union’s Senior Lobbyist. That means he deals with legislation targeting union issues, countering anti-labor groups’ positions and marshaling the forces when ballot battles loom. On the front burner now are battles over public pension reforms, driven by complaints about pension spiking and lavish benefits. Pension costs have become a regular concern, not only in the Capitol but in cities facing bankruptcy. Brennand is a perfect fit for this combat: He’s a strategist with a keen eye and a sharp elbow, and he carries a clear perception of the enemy. He also knows how to negotiate a deal – a treasured commodity in the Capitol – and he doesn’t shrink from a fight, which is good because SEIU seems to be in a lot of them.

45. Shawnda Westly
John Burton may be the public face of the California Democratic Party but the day-to-day management falls to Shawnda Westly, the executive director. She must have quite a challenge, given the Democrats’ numbers, general restlessness and traditional squabbling. Westly, who set up her own consulting firm in 2005, also worked six years for the California Professional Firefighters and served as a senior adviser to S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom, Treasurer Bill Lockyer and the Consumer Attorneys of California, a powerful Democratic political force. The Dems have two-thirds majorities in both houses, virtually all the statewide offices and a 14-point lead in voter registration. The state is solidly blue, and Westly’s goal is to keep it that way.

46. Cynthia Bryant
Cynthia Bryant, a familiar name for years in the Capitol, is the executive director and chief operating officer of the California Republican Party — a gig that must have sounded like taking the bridge on the Titanic when it was first offered to her. But the new GOP chief, Jim Brulte, was persuasive in March 2013 and Bryant signed on, a hiring that drew praise in the Capitol. The result is that by all accounts Bryant – “CB” — is bringing order and solvency to the party. Bryant comes in with good credentials. She was a senior vice president at the Charter Schools Association, headed the Office of Planning and Research for three years, temporarily ran the Department of Finance, directed policy for the Senate Republican Caucus, and worked at Russo Marsh Rogers – a GOP political consulting firm — for 13 years as an account executive and vice president.   

47. Bob White
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Of all the people or firms we put on this list, the one that draws the most reaction is Bob White, who founded California Strategies and who seems to employ just about everybody except us. The reality is CalStrat is a target-rich environment for us. White, chief of staff to former Gov. Pete Wilson, is something of an institution now and casts a wide net. His several outfits, by whatever name, do lobbying, communications, strategy, campaign handling, crisis management and corporate communications, general hobnobbing and arm-twisting imagery – you name it. His players, however loosely affiliated, have included Jim Brulte, the former GOP leader of both houses of the Legislature and now the head of the state Republican Party, and Garry South, a Democratic campaign guru with more races than we can list here. Of course, there’s Gary Hunt, Terry McGann, Carol Whiteside, Rusty Areias, Steve Larson, Winston Hickox, B.B. Blevins, Jason Kinney, Joanne Kozberg, Victoria Bradshaw, John Flanigan, etc., etc. A crew of trouble makers, clearly. 

48. Bev Hansen
Bev Hansen successfully made the transition from legislating to advocacy, no easy feat and one that others have tried to duplicate with mixed results. On its face, it’s a good move, using the contacts and knowledge of the Capitol’s inner world to push the legislative interests of clients. In reality, it is a lot harder than it sounds. But Hansen made it look easy. A moderate Republican, she served three terms in the Assembly and then decided not to run again after Democrat-engineered redistricting carved up her district into hostile ground. She tried for a Senate seat in a 1993 special election, but she lost in the primary. But everything worked out: Hansen went into advocacy, and she’s now a partner at Lang, Hansen, O’Malley and Miller, a blue-chip, heavyweight lobbying firm with clients that include health services, bankers, gaming interests, truckers, labor, even the San Diego County Water Authority and AFSCME. Quite a lineup.

49. Ace Smith
Veteran campaign manager Ace Smith wasn’t on our list last year – his time in the California spotlight is during major elections – but this time out he’s involved in a slew of high profile campaigns, including Gov. Brown’s re-election.   Smith’s list of clients is a who’s who of Democrats of the past three decades, including Brown, Dianne Feinstein, Richard Gephardt, Barbara Boxer, Ann Richards and both Clintons.  In California his firm, SCN Strategies, had a banner year in 2010, handling the winning races for Barbara Boxer, Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom, and  2012 wasn’t bad either – his campaign for Proposition 30 handily trounced the “No” side by more than 10 points.  Noted for in-depth research and a penchant for flying below the radar whenever possible, Smith builds a deep-roots understanding of the logistics of his races – he reportedly travels with a copy of John Gunther’s 1947 guidebook, Inside U.S.A.  –  a knack that helps keep him in the winner’s circle more often than not.

50. Darius Anderson
Darius Anderson’s lobbying firm, Platinum Advisors, is a fixture on the Top 100, and for good reason: It has blue-chip clients and is a potent force in Sacramento, although in recent years Anderson has branched out his operations to include investments, real estate, a transit-related project, land development, even newspaper publishing in Santa Rosa. Anderson, the chair of the national advisory council of the Institute for Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, has been a major player in state politics at least since the Davis Administration, and his firm has built a client list that includes health care, local government, high-tech, satellite television and pharmaceutical interests. Among his clients are Tesla, the Hearst Corp., Ventura County, Station Casinos, Orange County and the Orange County Transportation Authority.

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