Home Virginia Politics Campaigns & Elections Publishes “Virginia Influencers” List: Who’s On, Who’s Not?

Campaigns & Elections Publishes “Virginia Influencers” List: Who’s On, Who’s Not?


Campaigns & Elections magazine is out with its list of “Virginia Influencers” — “the most influential political players in Virginia – with no elected officials allowed.”  Who’s on the list and who’s not? Where did C&E get it right and where did they get it wrong, in my view? A few highlights.

*The Top 10 Democrats are Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, Dave Mills, Dickie Cranwell, Ben Tribbett, Mo Elleithee, David Hallock, Paul Reagan, and Pete Brodnitz.

*The Top 10 Republicans are Phil Cox, Chris LaCivita, Frank Atkinson, Ed Gillespie, Pat Mullins, George Allen, Morton Blackwell, Ray Allen, Jr., M. Boyd Marcus, Jr., and J. Kenneth Kluge.

*The “Other Democrats” are Tom Perriello, Doug Wilder, Levar Stoney, Mary Sue Terry, Paul Goldman, Mame Reiley, Jody Wagner, Kevin Hall, Gaylene Kanoytan, Jon Bowerbank, Doris Crouse-Mays, Lowell Feld (yours truly), “Mudcat” Saunders, Kevin Mack, Vivian Paige, Alan Moore, Susan Swecker, Steve Pazmino, Frank Leone, Sean Holihan, “Pixie” Bell, Leigh Anne Collier Weinstein, Fred Hudson, Rex Simmons, Ben Greenberg, Glen Besa, Mike Henry, Joe Abbey, Clair Guthrie Gastanaga, and the Virginia Education Association.

*The “Other Republicans” are Richard Cullen, Michael Thomas, Tom Davis, Tucker Martin, Dave Rexrode, John Hager, Michael Farris, Jerry Falwell, Brian Kirwin, The Obenshains, Sean Connaughton, Robert Baratta, Trixie Averill, Ben Marchi, Richard Viguerie, Gary Byler, Victoria Cobb, Fred Malek, Glen Bolger, Richard Baxter Gilliam, G. Paul Nardo, Michael W. Thompson, Patrick McSweeney, Shaun Kenney, Jason Kenney, Jim Gilmore, Jamie Radtke, Jerry Kilgore, M.G. “Pat” Robertson, and Richard Crouse.

*The “Miscellaneous” list has people like UVA Professor and pundit Larry J. Sabato, Dominion Virginia Power CEO Thomas Farrell II, Virginia Citizens Defense League head Philip Van Cleave, blogger and former professor Bob Holsworth, former journalist and Sorensen Institute director Bob Gibson, big donor Randal Kirk, super-lobbyists Reginald Jones and Whittington Clement, Tertium Quids president John Taylor, Virginia Chamber of Commerce CEO Barry DuVal, and several organizations and companies like Philip Morris parent company Altria, Northrop Grumman, the Virginia Public Access Project, AFSCME/SEIU, and PETA. An interesting, eclectic list.

Anyway, those are the lists. See the “flip” for a few observations and quibbles.

First off, I’m having trouble seeing any stark dividing lines between the “Top 10” and the “other” Democrats and Republicans. I mean, how is Mike Henry, who I listed as the #1 Democratic Virginia campaign person over the past decade, not as influential as Mo Elleithee, who I listed as #2? How is Jim Webb’s Chief of Staff, Paul Reagan, in the Top 10, while Mark Warner’s powerful communications director, Kevin Hall, is in the “other” category? How are 2009 LG candidates Jon Bowerbank and Jody Wagner on the list, but fellow 2009 LG candidate – and likely future statewide candidate, unlike the other two – Mike Signer (also head of the New Dominion Project) not on the list at all? Odd.

*Having said that, I don’t have any major problems with the Top 10 list for Democrats. I also congratulate my fellow blogger and friend, Ben Tribbett, for making that list. Ben’s been involved in Virginia politics since he was about kindergarten, I think (not exaggerating by much), and is basically a walking encyclopedia of Virginia politics, districts, precincts, you name it. Ben also has moderated debates (including a 2009 gubernatorial debate), run campaigns, run for office himself, founded and run the popular Not Larry Sabato blog, and also has a number of influential Virginia clients. That’s pretty darn influential if you ask me!

*I find it interesting that “Mudcat” Saunders is on the list, but Steve Jarding is not. Perhaps Jarding’s work for two losing candidates in 2009, Brian Moran and Jon Bowerbank, affected his (lack of) ranking? Or maybe it’s the fact that Jarding’s moved out of Virginia for the greener (?) pastures of South Dakota? As for “Mudcat,” his heyday in Virginia politics was in 2001 and 2006, when he worked for Mark Warner and Jim Webb, respectively.  Since then, “Mud” worked for John Edwards, and as far as I know has been working on a book.  Anyway, it just seems to me that co-authors and (former?) friends Jarding and “Mudcat” are flip sides of the same coin; if one’s on the list, the other should be as well.

*If Joe Abbey’s on this list, despite the fact that he doesn’t seem to be particularly involved at this point in Virginia politics, then I’m not sure how James Walkinshaw, Chief of Staff to Rep. Gerry Connolly, isn’t.

*Congratulations to Democratic blogger Vivian Paige for making the list. I’m a bit surprised, though, that Waldo Jaquith – a blogger who also runs “Richmond Sunlight” and who just received an award from the White House – isn’t on the list.

*I’m sure I could come up with a lot more quibbles, but overall I think this is a good list, although of course incomplete.  Oh yeah, Abbi Easter should definitely be on this list.

*As for Republicans, I have a lot less to say, but I’d note that several bloggers made the cut, including Brian Kirwin (no comment), Shaun Kenney, and Jason Kenney.  I’m a bit surprised that several right-o-sphere new media types didn’t make it, including Jim Hoeft (founder of Bearing Drift); Jon Henke (George Allen’s 2006 new media coordinator, now working for Jamie Radtke); and Greg Letiecq (his blog has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “nativist extremist,” yet his influence is undeniable in Prince William County and beyond).

*A few others: I’m surprised Larry Roberts isn’t on the list, as he’s been Tim Kaine’s close (and powerful) advisor both in the governor’s mansion and at the DNC; David and Monica Dixon, definite power players in Virginia Democratic circles; and GMMB Media Consultants (David Smith, Susan DiLiddo Michels, Jim Margolis, also Delacey Skinner) should almost certainly be on the list, having worked for Mark Warner (2001 and 2008), Jim Webb (2006), and Terry McAuliffe (2009).

This is just a quick, off-the-top-of-my head reaction to the Campaigns & Elections ranking. What do you think of it?  Who else should be on it? Who should be off it?  Why?  Thanks.

UPDATE: Also, no corporate media figures in here? The Washington Post editorial board, which helped give us Creigh Deeds?  Jeff Schapiro? Ryan Nobles? Roz Helderman? Bob Lewis? Etc, etc?  Ouch.


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