Power 100 – Albany 2016


Putting together our annual Power 100 list for Albany is a lot of fun. We talk to sources we trust and get pitches from people – some with clear agendas and others with opaque objectives – that leave us scratching our heads. In the end, we take all the information we’ve gathered and have some grand discussions (even a few heated yelling matches) over who should be on the list, or who should be on top. This year we spent roughly 14 hours talking through the list in a series of seven meetings over the course of two months.

I mention all this because I want you to know how seriously we take this list. And not just because it’s fun, but because understanding who has influence and power helps shed at least a little light on why some things get done, and others don’t. And, as our list makes clear, almost nothing in Albany gets done solely on merit. It requires political maneuvering that often involves a handful of people, if not dozens, weighing in and helping craft a final decision – whether it’s a bill, a budget allocation or an implementation of policy.

Times may be changing, though. The overarching trend we noticed is that lobbyists, fundraisers and top lawmakers don’t have as tight a grip on control. This I think we can directly attribute to the string of corruption convictions and plethora of investigations coming from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. While the fear of Preet hasn’t halted traditional Albany government operations, it definitely has leveled the playing field a little. Advocates, rank-and-file lawmakers and many other politicos who have long been ignored now feel like they have a little bit more power to get things done. That sentiment played heavily into making this list, which includes more members of the state Legislature than in past years and a wider range of advocates at the expense of some of the prominent campaign fundraisers who may not wield as much power in the new Albany (emphasis on the word “may”).

Like all of our lists, this is a snapshot in time. I have no doubt that there will be large shifts in the coming weeks and months, but right now this is our view of the power structures at the Capitol. Enjoy.

-Michael Gareth Johnson, City & State Editorial Director

1. Andrew Cuomo, Governor

2. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York

3. Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator

4. Carl Heastie, Assembly Speaker

5. John Flanagan, Senate Majority Leader

6. Eric Schneiderman, State Attorney General

7. Thomas DiNapoli, State Comptroller

8. Jim Malatras, Director of State Operations

9. George Gresham, President, 1199 SEIU

10. Robert Mujica, New York State Budget Director

11. Jeffrey Klein, State Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader

12. Rob Speyer, President and CEO, Tishman Speyer

13. Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor

14. Melissa DeRosa, Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office

15. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator

16. Bill Mulrow, Secretary to the governor

17. William Rudin, Chairman, Association for a Better New York CEO, Rudin Management Company

18. Peter Ward, President, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council

19. Steven Cohen, Former secretary to the governor

20. Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor

21. Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council

22. Neal Kwatra, Founder/CEO, Metropolitan Public Strategies

23. Jennifer Cunningham, Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker

24. Tom Prendergast, Chairman and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

25. Kenneth Shapiro, Regional Managing Partner, Wilson Elser

26. Howard Zemsky, President and CEO, Empire State Development

27. John Banks III, President, REBNY

28. David Weinraub, Managing Partner, Brown Weinraub

29. Patrick Brown, Managing Partner, Brown Weinraub

30. Karen E. Magee, President, New York State United Teachers

31. Joseph Morelle, Assembly Majority Leader

32. MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner, state Department of Education

33. Kenneth Langone, Founder and CEO, Invemed Associates LLC

34. Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers

35. Jason Helgerson, State Medicaid Director

36. Betty Rosa, Chancellor, Board of Regents

37. Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President

38. Kenneth Raske, President, Greater New York Hospital Association

39. Liz Benjamin, Host, “Capital Tonight”

40. John DeFrancisco, Deputy Majority Leader, State Senate

41. Kenneth Lovett, Albany Bureau Chief, New York Daily News

42. Joanie Mahoney, Chairwoman, New York State Thruway Authority

43. Elizabeth Garvey, Counsel for Senate Republican

44. Blake Washington, Secretary, Assembly Ways and Means Committee

45. Jill Furillo, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association

46. Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City

47. Emily Giske, Partner, Bolton-St. Johns

48. Hector Figueroa, President, SEIU 32BJ

49. Kevin Law, President and CEO, Long Island Association

50. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Democratic Leader

51. Mario Cilento, state AFL­CIO

52. Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, State University of New York

53. Richard Kauffmann, Chairman, Energy and Finance for New York

54. Daniel Donohue, President, Civil Service Employees Association

55. Andrew Zambelli, Pollster

56. Heather Briccetti, President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State

57. Patrick Jenkins, President, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates

58. Cynthia Shenker, Founding Partner, Shenker, Russo & Clark

59. Catharine Young, Chairwoman, State Senate Finance Committee

60. Michael Gianaris, State Senate Deputy Democratic Conference Leader

61. Suri Kasirer, Founder and President, Kasirer Consulting

62. Peter Mooney, Senior Adviser to the State Senate Majority Leader

63. Harold Iselin, Albany Managing Shareholder and Chairman, Government Law and Policy Practice, Greenberg Traurig

64. Peter King, U.S. Congressman

65. Jef Pollock, Founding Partner and President, Global Strategy, Group

66. Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO Associated General Contractors of New York State

67. Jenny Sedlis, Executive Director, StudentsFirstNY

68. Alfonse D'Amato, Founder, Park Strategies

69. Risa Sugarman, Chief Enforcement Counsel State Board of Elections

70. Susan Arbetter, News and Public Affairs Director, WCNY

71. Evan Stavisky, Partner, The Parkside Group

72. Marcos Crespo, Chairman, Bronx County Democratic Party

73. Joseph Crowley, Chairman, Queens County Democratic Party

74. Basil Smikle, Executive Director, State Democratic Party

75. Keith Wright, New York State Assemblyman

76. John Emrick, Independent Democratic Conference, Chief of Staff

77. Andrew Farkas, CEO, Island Capital Group

78. Michael McKeon, Partner, Mercury Public Affairs

79. Wayne Spence, President, Public Employees Federation

80. Robert Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce

81. Beth Finkel, State Director, AARP NY

82. Joseph Robach, Chairman, State Senate Transportation Committee

83. Josh Mohrer, General Manager, Uber NYC

84. Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge

85. Lou Ann Ciccone, Program and Policy Secretary, Assembly Democratic Conference

86. Vicki Fuller, Chief Investment Officer, State Comptroller’s Office

87. Gil Quiniones, President and CEO, New York Power Authority

88. Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor

89. Edward Cox, Chairman, State Republican Party

90. Josh Benson, Co­-Founder and Co­-Editor, Politico States

91. Bill Lipton, State Director, Working Families Party

92. Tom Precious, Reporter, The Buffalo News

93. Carl Paladino, Chairman, Ellicott Development

94. Simcha Felder, State Senator

95. E.J. McMahon, President, Empire Center for Public Policy

96. Timothy Dolan, Cardinal, Archbishop of New York

97. Don Levy, Director, Siena College Research Institute

98. Cathy Nolan, Chairwoman, Assembly Education Committee

99. John Degnan, Chairman, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

100. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Riverkeeper


NEXT STORY: 50 over Fifty 2016