2021 POWER & INFLUENCE 40: Numbers 31-40
It would stand to reason that the most powerful and influential media outlet in Alabama would have a keen sense of which state political figures fit the same bill.
That’s why Yellowhammer Multimedia, once again, is publishing its Power and Influence 40.
Taking into account countless conversations with political insiders, as well as the most recent developments in politics and public policy, the list is meant to recognize the top individuals in government and politics who leverage their power and influence on behalf of those they represent and the Yellowhammer State.
The ranked list is being released in four segments, with 31-40 coming first and 1-10 finishing the week out.
Welcome to a peek behind the curtain.
40. Anthony Daniels
Anthony Daniels has seemingly done the impossible in the Alabama House of Representatives. As House Minority Leader, he has increased his power and influence in the lower chamber despite a reduction in numbers within his caucus.
Sometimes in the House, it is harder to lead that smaller number of people because personalities and agendas become magnified. But Daniels has deftly handled his current leadership position.
Possessing a natural intellect for legislative process and politics, Daniels has figured out how to best channel his caucus’ energy to leverage a permanent seat at the policymaking table.
The Rocket City can count Daniels among its growing list of powerful and influential politicians in state government.
39. Greg Butrus
What we said in 2019: It’s impossible not to learn something during a conversation with Butrus. Once a Senate staffer for legendary Alabama political figure Howell Heflin, Butrus displays the type of personality rare among the silk stocking law firms in downtown Birmingham.
The question is not “what does Greg Butrus know about legislation, ethics opinions and campaign finance laws?” Instead, the question usually asked by Alabama political insiders is “what doesn’t he know?”
This Balch & Bingham attorney has incomparable knowledge in the areas which matter most to lobbyists and principals trying to navigate the Alabama political waters.
His ability to be such a valuable resource among power players makes him one of their peers.
38. Greg Jones
Anyone who thinks bipartisanship is dead has never encountered the governmental affairs practice of Greg Jones.
Possessing an innate ability to connect with policymakers of both parties and all backgrounds, Jones has built one of the most durable practices in Montgomery. This experienced lobbyist and entrepreneur has set up a firm ready to engage on a wide range of issues at all levels of government.
A former Arkansas State defensive back, Jones’ ability to see the entire political field keeps his services in high demand.
37. Sommer Vaughn
What we said in 2019: Vaughn has hit her stride as a lobbyist who consistently delivers results for her clients. No issue is too big or too complex for her to handle.
Being a lobbyist comes naturally to Sommer Vaughn. An ingrained interest in public policy and an ebullient personality allow her to get locked into the decision-making process on any issue in state government.
Perhaps just as important for getting work done in politics is that hint of “don’t mess with me” that Vaughn possesses. Being able to evoke a tinge of fear in people behind an otherwise relatable personality is what delivers results for clients and amounts to longevity in the industry.
The ingredients are there for Vaughn to maintain her power and influence for decades to come.
36. Jeremy Walker
While his members have enjoyed a stellar year in the real estate market, Jeremy Walker has worked to position them well in the realm of Alabama politics.
Walker leads a thriving business association which now has more than $2.5 million in its political action committee. Coupling his ambitious leadership style with those resources will make Walker and his association one of the most impactful players during the upcoming 2022 election cycle.
An attorney and former football player for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Walker should continue to widen his trail of power and influence.
35. Bobby Singleton
Bobby Singleton could teach a master class in how to maximize the power and influence available to an Alabama state senator. He squeezes every ounce of available juice out of his position from start to finish each legislative session.
A commanding presence at the microphone in the well of the chamber, lobbyists and staffers – as well as many of his fellow senators – never quite know whether he is speaking from the heart or with the wink of an eye.
That ability to keep other stakeholders off balance, and a willingness to utilize his influence, necessitates their inclusion of Singleton throughout the policymaking process.
34. Josh Blades
What we said in 2019: The depth of his work in the executive and legislative branches of government provides him the institutional knowledge to service his clients, but his influence comes from having the relationships to bring about results.
When Josh Blades’ clients gain his representation, they get way more than just a guy who walks up and down the hallways of the Statehouse.
Blades has an ability to think about issues and their impact more globally than most, and he could just as easily be running a business or an organization as he could be doing his present job as one of Alabama’s top lobbyists.
It is fascinating to think of how much is left out there for a talent like Blades to accomplish even with how much he has done already. Yet, his work is just beginning.
33. Ben Patterson
What we said in 2019: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable governmental affairs professional in Alabama than Ben Patterson. And there’s a good reason for this…Patterson holds a doctorate and quite literally taught classes in state and local government, as well as American politics, at the University of Alabama.
Lobbyists come in varying forms. One type is the lobbyist who can open a door and get a meeting scheduled but has no idea what their client actually needs. Another, although somewhat rarer, is the lobbyist who understands the issues but not the personal and political nuances that must be taken into account.
Ben Patterson is the perfect mix of what is good from both of those scenarios.
Patterson is a scholar and able to easily grasp complicated issues. He is also a relationship-builder by nature and has connected with the state’s power players on a personal level.
Being able to leverage that combination of influential traits puts Patterson in a unique position in Montgomery.
32. Paul Pinyan
What we said in 2019: With an impressive phone banking and polling operation, along with the best grassroots network in the state, Pinyan has the top tools at his disposal to continue increasing his power and influence.
Paul Pinyan has drawn up the blueprint for becoming powerful and influential at a business association in Montgomery.
A native of Holly Pond, Pinyan was appointed in 2010 by former Alabama Farmers Federation president Jerry Newby to replace legendary executive director Mike Kilgore. Since that time, Pinyan has effectively consolidated power both within his own building and externally.
Pinyan is particularly proficient in the art of subtle influence in advancing his cause and that of current president Jimmy Parnell, who relies heavily upon Pinyan’s guidance and counsel.
Pinyan’s organization has a little more than $750,000 in its state political action committee. With that tidy sum, the trust of his members and a variety of campaign tools at his disposal, Pinyan has the opportunity for continued success.
31. David Cole
What we said in 2019: Cole is a natural people’s person, someone adept at building genuine relationships and making real connections. In the governmental affairs world, these traits are hard to find.
Few have seen their stock shoot up in recent legislative sessions the way David Cole has.
Cole transitioned from a single industry constituency to the diverse industry interests of the Business Council of Alabama a little more than two years ago. He has thrived under that change of scenery.
Cole came charging out of the gate as senior vice president of governmental affairs at BCA. He was the tip of the legislative spear on the business community’s support for the Rebuild Alabama infrastructure package.
There is no question he will be at the forefront of many legislative fights in the future. All Cole needs is a white board and a phone and he will relentlessly pursue votes on behalf of his group.
Meanwhile, his stock continues to climb.
Check back on Wednesday for the next segment: 21-30