Capitol Weekly’s Top 100: Jim DeBoo

Illustration by Chris Shary

1: Jim DeBoo

It’s no surprise that the governor’s executive secretary – “chief of staff” in the terminology of normal folk – is No. 1 on our list. Jim DeBoo is a sort of renaissance man, the governor’s majordomo and the top administrative person in state government who handles politicos, bureaucrats and lobbyists, to name a few. The government’s flow chart alternately resembles a bowl of spaghetti or the opening credits of North by Northwest, but at the top of the mix is DeBoo, with one foot on the political side and the other on the bureaucracy. DeBoo is the governor’s principal manager and political adviser, a difficult task in the best of times. But DeBoo has the chops to do it: He was interim chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Pérez and worked for former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He is entrepreneurial – heading DeBoo Communications – and he’s advised campaigns, private clients and others on how to get things done in Sacramento. He knows the Legislature and many of its members, and knows how to deal with reporters – a skill that often eludes chiefs of staff. He helped to decisively fend off a recall attempt against Newsom last year, but his political challenge this year may be even more interesting. His boss, Gavin Newsom, is being talked about as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, fueled in part by President Biden’s age (79), latest poll numbers and a favorability rating of a scant 30 percent. He’s flatly denied an interest in the presidency, of course, but Potomac Fever often spreads west – Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon both caught it – and Newsom, who faces little danger in his reelection this year, is watching national developments like a hawk. And DeBoo is there to help him watch. By the way, DeBoo holds a Capitol Weekly record of the single biggest leap in our Top 100 rankings – from 64th in 2020 to 1st last year, when he took over as chief of staff.

Updated Aug. 9, 2022

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