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.
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!
31. Seth Hammett | Vice President of Business Development | PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
Hammet was at the top of the mountain a couple of years ago as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. He was Governor Bentley’s first ADO director and continues to play a role in economic development in his new post at PowerSouth. He is on fairly good terms with GOP legislative leadership and his relationship with the governor keeps him well positioned to continue being a player.
32. Mac McArthur | Executive Director | Alabama State Employees Association
McArthur has always supported Democrats and his goals are in conflict with GOP leadership’s mission to increase government efficiency. A couple of scandals at the state employees union have further hurt his ability to wield influence. 5 years ago he may have made the top 10. McArthur is the first of several members of the Power and Influence 40 who is struggling to adapt to the political landscape that has emerged with the rise of the GOP.
33. Gary Palmer | President | Alabama Policy Institute
Palmer has for years been at the forefront of conservative policy in Alabama. Unfortunately, his reform ideas fell on deaf ears under decades of Democrat control. Palmer’s influence has grown significantly with the rise of the GOP. Insiders say that numerous GOP policy initiatives have been born during Palmer’s private meetings with GOP leadership. There was some debate on whether or not Palmer was a fit for a “power and influence” list, but few people are in a position to understand just how influential he is.
34. Anita Archie | Senior Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs | Business Council of Alabama
Archie has a tremendous amount of experience in many aspects of state government. She now overseas the state’s top government affairs operation at the BCA. She is well respected on both sides of the aisle and is enjoying a whole new level of influence based on the BCA’s close ties to GOP leadership.
35. Joe Perkins | Democrat Political Consultant
Joe Perkins is a legend in Alabama politics but his influence has slowly eroded over the decade since Don Siegelman left the governor’s office. The GOP’s rise has accelerated Perkins’ fall but he still has a solid client list and his resiliency shouldn’t be underestimated. His opposition research exploits have made him a feared figure behind-the-scenes for years. One insider said to never count Perkins out, “He’s shrewd enough to get himself back in the mix very soon.”
36. John McMahon, Jr. | Chairman | Ligon Industries
Board of Trustees | University of Alabama
McMahon sparked some of the most interesting conversations during the building of this list. One insider called McMahon “the invisible force behind the GOP takeover of the Supreme Court.” Opponents have called him “the dark overlord” of Alabama judicial races. In truth, only a handful of people truly know how influential he has been. Alabama’s courts went from being trial lawyer driven to business friendly — you can thank McMahon for that.
37. Chuck Malone | Chief Justice | Alabama Supreme Court
The case for Chief Justice Malone’s inclusion on this list is one of the most interesting. Paradoxically, If he loses his Chief Justice seat in March, his influence may actually increase — that’s how close he is to the Governor. He has basically had his choice of jobs during the Bentley administration. It’s hard to consider being Chief Justice as a constraint, but in that role Malone is just 1 of 9 votes. Outside of that, he has the Governor’s ear like no one else. “If someone hired Chuck Malone as a lobbyist right now,” one insider quipped, “they’d be in the cat-bird’s seat for any issues in the Governor’s office.”
38. Marquita Davis | Finance Director | Office of Governor Robert Bentley
Finance Director is always a powerful position. Even though she’s new, Davis is quickly gaining influence and respect. Her background is in education policy, rather than finance, but she’s smart and already has a few years of state government experience under her belt. Look for her to rise in future versions of this list.
39. Mark Kennedy | Chairman | Alabama Democratic Party
In a 1996 Reader’s Digest article, The Center for Judicial Accountability named Kennedy one of “America’s Worst Judges.” Now he’s overseeing a Party in shambles after the 2010 GOP wave. Kennedy is tough as nails though and the state media has a sympathetic ear for Democrats because of the GOP’s strength. His place at the table is secure. Still, decisions like partnering with far left-wing talk show host Bill Maher for an upcoming event have left some Democrats questioning whether or not Kennedy is the man to lead the Party in one of the nation’s most conservative states.
40. Jere Beasley | Attorney | Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.
Beasley is one of the leading trial lawyers in the country. The trial lawyers are losing the battle for the Alabama appellate courts and their influence has deteriorated significantly with the GOP takeover of the legislature. However, Beasley remains in the mix. One insider summed it up by saying, “The trial lawyers still have a lot of money and Jere and his firm remain the leaders in that movement.”