The Yellow Hammer Power & Influence 40 is a list of the 40 most powerful and influential players in Alabama politics. For a more in-depth explanation of the list and how it was compiled, click here.
The Top 5 will be announced live on the Matt Murphy show the morning of Monday, Feb. 27. If you’re not in the Birmingham area, you can listen live by clicking here.
For names 31-40 click here.
If you have thoughts or comments, please share them with us on Facebook or Twitter or in the comment section below. Who did we get right? Who did we get wrong? Who else do you expect to be on the list? Let the debate and speculation begin!
21. Jerry Newby | President | Alabama Farmer’s Federation
Newby has seen his influence fade significantly with the rise of the GOP. ALFA supported a lot of Democrats in 2010 so they’ve had to start from scratch with a lot of people. The staff at ALFA was put together with an eye toward Democratic leadership which has hurt them now that the GOP is in charge. Newby has said he is not running for another term as president so insiders are keeping an eye on who will take his place. Stay tuned to see if the next ALFA president can elevate their profile with the new GOP leadership. In the legislature, ALFA’s influence comes through Joe Fine who lobbies on their behalf.
22. Dave Stewart: Partner | Senior Advisor for Government Affairs & Economic Development | Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings
Stewart was Bob Riley’s Chief of Staff during his second term and is a former Senior Advisor to Congressman Jo Bonner. He’s a top-notch policy guy who brings a lot to the table when representing clients in Montgomery and Washington, D.C. He’s smart, works hard, and has a great client list. “You’re not going to find a better pedigree for a lobbyist,” commented one insider. Stewart has great relationships with GOP leadership in the legislature. He’s already established and has a lot of upside. Look for him to make a jump in future versions of the Power & Influence 40.
23. Steve Windom | Alabama Political Maven
No one, and I mean NO ONE, knows the system of state government better than Steve Windom. No lobbyist has more institutional knowledge. Windom has somebody in every agency and knows what buttons to push to get things done for his clients. Insiders provided numerous background stories of Windom’s brilliance playing the game of state politics.
However, Windom fell out of favor with Governor Bentley during the GOP gubernatorial primary so that has limited his influence within the executive branch. But Windom does one thing better than almost anyone else in the state — raise money. He is a prolific fundraiser for candidates and that translates into continued influence in state government.
24. David Bronner | CEO | Retirement Systems of Alabama
Dr. Bronner is currently one of the most controversial figures in Alabama politics. 5 years ago he would have made the top 5 on this list but he has faded quickly based on the RSA’s performance and the fact that he has always counted on Democratic leadership to help him subsidize state retirement. “State employees and teachers have bought into the notion that ‘RSA is just fine, leave it alone.’” Noted one insider, “But his power is crumbling.”
GOP leadership is not going to allow Bronner to continue on “business as usual.” However, they have an uphill battle against the media who have not shed enough light on the fact that a billion taxpayer dollars are needed to prop up Bronner’s operation.
25. Kay Ivey | Lt. Governor of Alabama
Lt. Governor Ivey is well-liked in the legislature and a favorite in GOP circles across the state. She presides over the Senate and determines which committee each bill is assigned to but in reality, her role in the Senate is minimal. It’s uncharted territory for a Republican Lt. Governor to be working with a Republican majority in the legislature — so to some extent her role is still developing. The bottom line is that she’s one heart beat away from the Governor’s office.
26. Blaine Galliher | State Representative
Galliher is the Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee which determines the House calendar. Chairing that committee immediately puts him in a position of significant power. His office is right next to the Speaker’s. “He’s a good guy and kind of a quiet guy,” noted one insider, “but he carries a lot of weight around the State House.” Now in his 5th term, he’s a veteran lawmaker enjoying the perks of being in the majority Party for the first time in his career.
27. David Azbell | Partner | Swatek, Azebll, Howe, & Ross
Azbell is the most trusted and respected communications specialist in all of Alabama politics. He has been called upon for private council with countless legislators behind-the-scenes. “In a business where communication is vital,” remarked on GOP insider, “David is indispensable for many Republicans.” Azbell recently helped Speaker Hubbard write his upcoming book, “Storming the State House,” and continues to consult for the House GOP caucus and a host of others. He helps shape the debate for Republicans.
28. Victor Gaston | Speaker Pro Tem | Alabama House of Representatives
Dr. Gaston is a mentor to a large group of House members — especially some of the freshman from southern parts of the state. He has always been loyal to Speaker Hubbard and is counted on to provide unfiltered advice. Dr. Gaston deserves a ton of credit for grinding it out for years in the minority. He’s been a member of the House since 1982.
29. Mike Hill | State Representative
Representative Hill leads a bloc of House Republicans and, as a result, often has a pretty strong voice in decisions made in the State House — more so than meets the eye. Leadership needs to know what Rep. Hill thinks in order to avoid losing his bloc on key votes. He has strong relationships with a diverse group of interesting including the BCA, State Employees Association, the bankers, Forestry Association and more.
30. Paul Bryant, Jr. | President Pro Tem | UA Board of Trustees
When Dr. Bentley was just a little known candidate from Bryant’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Bryant was one of his biggest backers. The decision to support Dr. Bentley has paid off in a major way. Bryant could likely rank higher on this list if he wanted to, but insiders say he hasn’t exerted influence on the governor’s office to the degree that he probably could. Still, if Bryant calls, the Governor listens.