50. Orrin Heatlie
A retiree after a 25-year-stint in the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, Orrin Heatlie is credited with being the spark that touched off the recall drive against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Heatlie has characterized Newsom as a “rogue governor,” who deserves to be ousted. Newsom now faces his sixth recall effort, but it’s the only that has gained some traction, and Heatlie certainly is part of the reason. A strong organizer and deft manager, Heatlie – a former patrol sergeant and hostage negotiator – put together a statewide team and invigorated Newsom’s political foes. The effort launched on a shoestring, but drew enough attention to attract professional strategists (credit here to Dave Gilliard and Anne Dunsmore who jumped in and helped supercharge a mail-in signature-gathering drive), and even funding, to push the recall toward the Sept. 14 ballot. Depending on what happens in the recall, Heatlie’s role in California history will be decisive – or an asterisk.