26. Jim Earp
Jim Earp wears two hats and both fit pretty well. For one thing, he has been a member of the powerful California Transportation Commission, which decides major road projects and sets the priority schedule to pay for them. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him originally, Jerry Brown reappointed him to a term that ends in 2019 – when Brown leaves office. Two, Earp heads a group called the Alliance for Jobs, which represents about 1,700 construction companies and some 50,000 unionized workers. The Alliance targets lots of jobs and big projects, which translates into a lot of dough and political clout. Earp inevitably squeezes out a place at the table when it comes to deciding which infrastructure projects get approved and how much they’ll cost – a critical skill when lawmakers and the governor appear poised to spend money. The Alliance also has pushed for bond financing for an array of infrastructure projects, and his group played a major role in the big-dollar discussions over air-quality rules for diesel equipment. By the way, Earp is pronounced “AARP,” as in the retirees’ group, not “Earp,” as in the gunslinger.
Updated Aug. 25, 2o15