2. Ana Matosantos
Cabinet Secretary Ana Matosantos knows money and she knows government, in spades. She also knows politics, although most agree that her role right now is more policy. In effect, Matosantos runs California’s government, exercising authority through the cabinet to make sure the trains run on time. When Ann O’Leary left, Matosantos seemed like the logical person to take the chief of staff’s job, but the governor wanted to go heavy on the politics and brought Jim DeBoo in. The Stanford-educated Matosantos’ record is amazing: She ran the top entity in state government – the Department of Finance – under both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, and she remains the go-to person for Newsom on all things fiscal. She’s navigated multibillion-dollar budget shortages and drew praise from most in the Capitol, including notorious cheapskate Brown. Now, in what must be a refreshing relief, she’s managing the state’s huge surplus. Assigning Matosantos to the No. 2 slot wasn’t easy – we went into this list with her as the obvious choice for No. 1, but ultimately were dissuaded.
(Updated August 25, 2021)