Thursday, October 06, 2005

POWER 50, 2003

POWER 50, 2003: "The POWER 50 identifies Pennsylvania's 50 most politically influential personalities. In developing our list, we eliminated anyone who currently holds public office, as well as judges and state Cabinet members. This is an Insiders List. We looked at policy makers, party leaders, fundraisers, lobbyists, labor unions, businesses, the media, and associations. We have assembled the ultimate list of Pennsylvanians with clout -- with an impact on politics and government in the Commonwealth. From last year's list, gone are several GOP operatives, and other Republicans who leveraged their power on their relationship with the administration. Instead, we find more labor leaders, and Democratic power brokers and donors. Just remember that our list is purely subjective. And this list is always changing. We welcome your comments on this list or on the PoliticsPA.com website.

David Cohen: Rendell's former mayoral Chief of Staff is the PoliticsPA pick for the most politically powerful unelected Pennsylvanian. Never more than a cell phone call away, Cohen is now Executive Vice President for Comcast-AT&T, and has helped deliver big for his friend Ed and his former law firm.*

John Estey: Now serving as the Governor's Chief of Staff, Estey served as Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Mayor Rendell in the City of Philadelphia. Estey was most recently a business and finance attorney at Ballard Spahr Anderws & Ingersoll. *

Mark Singel: This is one Western Pennsylvania Democrat who picked the right candidate in last year's gubernatorial primary. To quote when PoliticsPA named Singel a 2002 Winner of the Year Runner-Up: Singel came out early for the former Philly mayor and would not support the son of the former governor. He even withstood the wrath of state Senator Vince Fumo when he sent out a letter supporting Rendell during the primary. Mark Singel just might be "Pennsylvania's comeback kid." After unexpectedly losing a U.S. Senate primary race and suffering a close defeat for governor, most speculated that the popular Penn State booster's political career was over. It may well be for elected public office but that's only because he's found great success in the private sector. Expect Singel to be a major player and advisor in the Rendell administration, while he keeps his eye on Jack Murtha's congressional seat, or perhaps another statewide run. *

Dave Sweet: The attorney, former state legislator and former Rendell Campaign Manager served as Rendell's Transition Team Executive Director is respected, well liked and gets his calls returned.*

William George: The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President - Pennsylvania's top labor leader - moves up as Rendell is elected Governor. Last year, George was ranked eighth. This year, he easily comes in ahead of GOP powerhouse Asher and Republican consigliore Girard-DiCarlo. Sure, labor supported Casey in the primary, but all involved have worked hard to unite. *

Bob Feldman: The CEO and President of The Feldman Group has served as Co-Finance Chairman for Street for Mayor, Finance Chairman for McGreevey for Governor, Finance Chairman for Casey for Governor, Co-Finance Chairman for Rendell for Governor; U.S. Finance Chairman for the re-election campaign of Congressman Anibal Acevedo-Vila of Puerto Rico, and once served as Finance Chairman for Barbara Hafer. Bottom line: the man knows how to raise money, and continues to break fundraising records. This is one Democrat whose name you want on your finance committee.

Bob Asher: Asher drops a few slots on the Power 50 list as he loses his close friend, Tom Ridge, in the governor's office. But Asher remains heavily involved in the daily operations of a number of campaigns, and he has forged a close relationship with House Speaker John Perzel and many state Senators.

David Girard-DiCarlo: The attorney, Bush Pioneer, Ridge confidant, and former Fisher for Governor Chairman drops from the top slot on last year's list. He remains powerful, with a finger in the White House, the Office of Homeland Security, but does not have the same pull when he calls 717-787-2500.

Steve Froubouck: The Fox Chapel F.O.E (Friend of Ed) and highly successful businessman gave the Governor in his last campaign at least $668,000 - much of it a loan. A smart donor, he told the Tribune Reivew he simply "want[s] to be an advisor" to Governor Rendell. But Froubouck, a Democrat, understands realpolitik, and donates to Republicans as well, including: Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey, Congressman Bill Shuster, and Governor Jeb Bush.*

Mark Schweiker: Despite being the only Republican who polls showed beating Ed Rendell, Schweiker opted for early (temporary?) retirement. He left office well liked by many in Harrisburg. As Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce President, Schweiker will retain a sizeable soapbox and earn more than the Governor.

Alan Kessler: Kessler is a valuable fundraiser for state and national Democrats, not to mention a Rendell finance co-chair. Kessler has given to Lieberman for President, Schwartz for state Senate, Carper for Senate (DE), Gore for President, and Hoeffel for Congress, among others. A partner at Wolf Block Shorr Solis Cohen, he is also a former Township Supervisor in Lower Merion.*

Steve MacNett: As General Counsel to the GOP state Senate, he is still referred to as the "51st Senator." But he drops a few places as Democrats take control of the Governor's Mansion.

Stan Rapp: Rapp's ties to Rendell and Labor help elevate him on our list, while others are forced down with the departure of a Republican administration. In the last few election cycles, Rapp has donated to Congressmen English, Murtha, Greenwood, Brady, Doyle, Bud Shuster, and Senators Specter and Santorum.

Manny Stamatakis: The former DRPA Chairman, Fisher for Governor Finance Chairman, and Philadelphia-area businessman remains in a strong position as Governor Rendell asks him to remain on at the DRPA. Stamatakis gives heavily to Republicans across the country, but has been known to donate to Democrats when needed; he's given to Democratic Senators Biden and Sarbenes, and Congressmen Murtha and Borski.

Ken Jarin: Joined at the hip with Alan Kessler, Jarin is a powerhouse in his own right. A sampling of contributions to candidates for federal office over the last few cycles: Biden for Senate (DE), Borski for Congress, Bowles for Senate (NC), Carper for Senate (DE), Casey for Congress, Duval for Congress (AZ), Fattah for Congress, Foley for Senate, Gilman for Congress (NY), Gore for President, Gormley for Senate (NJ), Hoeffel for Congress, Holden for Congress, Johnson for Senate (SD), Kirk for Senate (TX), Landrieu for Senate (LA), Lautenberg for Senate (NJ), Levin for Senate (MI), Lieberman 2000, Maloney for Congress (NY), Menendez for Congress (NJ), Pryor for Senate (AR), Rodham Clinton for Senate (NY), Rovner for Senate, Schwartz for Senate, Schweitzer for Senate (MT), Shaheen for Senate (NH), Specter for Senate, Stabenow for Senate (MI), Swett for Congress (NH), and Wellstone for Senate (MN)*

Elsie Hillman: GOP activist, major donor and philanthropist, Elsie has helped to elect every statewide GOP office holder in the past 30 years. But with the departure of Ridge, retirement of Schweiker and loss of Fisher, Hillman drops several spots from last year's list.

Henry Nicholas: The President of National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees since 1981. Nicholas, who has a knack for picking the wrong candidate (Nicholas, in 1995: "Rendell has no base."), still commands respect among state leaders.

Sam Katz: The former CEO of Greater Philadelphia First remains in the top twenty this year, but with his mayoral campaign underway, his position will undoubtedly change in time for the 2004 Power List.

Brian Tierney: The television personality and GOP strategist, is chairing Katz for Mayor campaign, and his name has floated as a potential statewide candidate in 2004.

Dick Hayden: The low-key Rendell confidant is easily overlooked by many, but should be ignored by nobody. The former state House member - who served served on the Rendell transition team as co-chair of the DEP team- will leverage key contacts for some key contracts.*

Vernon Hill: The Commerce Bank Chairman heads one of Pennsylvania's fastest growing banks, and more importantly, gets the game when it comes to politics- earning a spot on the list. Hill plays to both Republicans and Democrats, and gets what he wants.

Mark Holman: Formerly Tom Ridge's Chief of Staff, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security at the White House, Holman has rejoined Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley in the Government Relations Department. The guy still has some great contacts, to say the least.

Steve Wojdak: This lobbyist moves up in the ranks as Rendell moves into the Governor's Mansion and he acquires new, key staff.

Brian Preski: Without allies in the Governor's mansion, Perzel's Chief of Staff drops a few slots but remains the most powerful, trusted advisor ton the new Speaker of the House.

Nick DeBenedictis: The Philadelphia Suburban Water CEO, former DEP Secretary under Thornburgh and major GOP fundraiser gets his calls returned. He's close with Perzel and he's given heavily to Republicans nationally, in Pennsylvania, and New Jersey... plus Bill Bradley for President.

Bill Greenlee: Greenlee remains a powerhouse in Pennsylvania politics, with strong contacts throughout Harrisburg and the Commonwealth.

John Brabender: The President of BrabenderCox remains on the list despite the defeat of Mike Fisher, as a result of his strong ties to Hart, Santorum and Roddey, and successful open seat campaigns of Tim Murphy and Jim Gerlach.

George Burrell: Mayor John Street's right hand man, is thoroughly unapologetic and fiercely loyal to his boss. The former city Councilman and Deputy Mayor understands the business and investment community, to the benefit of the more inward-looking mayor.

John Dougherty: The Hatfield to Vince Fumo's McCoy, Dougherty is never far from the headlines. As Business Manager for IBEW Local 98, "Johnny Doc" has mastered the game.

Richard Mellon-Scaife: The conservative philanthropist and publishers drops down several slots on list with the loss of Western Pennsylvania Republicans Tom Ridge, Mike Fisher, and Barbara Hafer. With the departure of Mellon-Scaife's favorite boogeyman from the White House, he garners fewer headlines these days.

Tom Previc: Top gun for the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers, his group has an important friend in the governor's office and major influence with half the state Senate.

Steve Crawford: Now Rendell's legislative director, Crawford served as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under Governor Casey, and is the former Executive Director the State House Agricultural Committee.*

Donna Cooper: Cooper most recently served as the Executive Director of Good Schools Pennsylvania, a public education advocacy organization. Cooper served as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning in the Rendell administration, and now serves as Policy Director for the Governor.

Mike Long: The State Senate GOP wunderkid helped engineer congressional redistricting to give the careers of Tim Murphy, Jim Gerlach, and Jack Murtha a boost. But with redistricting over, and Jubelirer done with his double-duty stint, Long drops a bit from last year.

Marilyn Ware: This GOP donor and fundraiser remains powerful, even with Ridge, Schweiker, and Fisher gone.

Alan Novak: Novak has guided the state GOP for many years but he doesn't have the tight control of the Party that other state chairmen have. That being said, Novak easily makes the Power 50 list for a second year.

Keith Schmidt: Rick Santorum's State Director drops from last year's position as the junior Senator focuses on national politics and Pennsylvania politics focus on the senior Senator.

Becky Corman: Top GOP grass roots operative and activist. Like Hillman, her star may be on the downward slope, albeit temporarily.

Sam Marshall: The President of the Pennsylvania Insurance Federation leader remains an influential player in Harrisburg.

Leslie Anne Miller: The Rendell General Counsel was named in a recent feature as one of Pennsylvania's most politically powerful women, and remains one of the most connected members of the political-legal community.

Holly Kinser: After her much published breakup with House Minority Leader Bill DeWeese in 1999, Kinser went into self-imposed exile, but returned to join Steve Wojdak's lobbying shop. Kinser's lobbying talent speaks for itself, and with her connections the the state's CEO, she joins the PoliticsPA power list.

Jim Nevels: As the Chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, Nevels oversees the largest school system in the state. The only guy in Pennsylvania who controls more public contracts for construction, food service, banking, insurance, and real estate is the Governor himself, whose first term ends a year before Nevels' does.

Erik Arneson: The Chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill, Arneson has a major say in what legislation moves through the state Senate.

Frank Sirianni: The new President of Pennsylvania Buildings and Trades is a powerful voice for labor.

Brian Roberts: The Comcast Cable CEO belatedly joins the Power 50 list with the acquisition of AT&T and David Cohen.

Terry Madonna: Pennsylvania's Pollster-Laureate remains unquestionably the most respected and quoted independent pollster in the state. When Madonna speaks, just about every power broker, media outlet, and political junkie in Pennsylvania listens.

Peter Buttenweiser: The reclusive Democrat continues to be the single biggest individual contributor to the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, and one of the biggest in the country, having donated with his wife $565,500 in the last election cycle. Buttenweiser's stock would shoot through the roof in our listing if he exercised any of the clout he has built up.

LeRoy Zimmerman: The first elected Attorney General, Zimmerman remains a power broker in Central Pennsylvania. Managing partner with Eckert Seamans in Harrisburg, Zimmerman contributes heavily to state and national Republicans, but maintains friendly ties with the administration.

Neil Oxman: Rendell's media strategist has done well for his boss, and continues to be influential in several high profile campaigns throughout Pennsylvania. Should Oxman's candidates win, look for Oxman's rank on this list to rise.

Michael Karp: The prominent Philadelphia real-estate developer has strong ties to Perzel, Casey, and Rendell, and most Philadelphia-area legislators. He's donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rendell in the last decade-plus, and has reaped the rewards of a close relationship. "

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