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.
Names 10-6 will be released Friday and the top 5 will be announced live on the Matt Murphy show at 7:30 a.m. the morning of Monday, Feb. 27. If you’re not in the Birmingham area, you can listen live by clicking here.
11. Trip Pittman | State Senator
Pittman is Chairman of the Senate Finance and Education Taxation Committee, more commonly known as the ETF (Education Trust Fund). He’s a solid policy guy who comes from one of the most GOP friendly counties in the state. He has the backbone to go toe-to-toe with the AEA which is one of the reasons leadership has trusted him with the $3+ Billion education budget. “Pittman casts an imposing shadow — literally and figuratively,” said one insider. “That’s exactly what Republicans need in that position.”
12. Jim Barton | State Representative
Barton is the House General Fund Chairman. With the state’s finances in dire shape, his position has become one of even more importance and influence. The Speaker trusts him to play a huge role. “He seems to know everyone in Montgomery,” one insider remarked about Barton’s extensive network. It’s also of note that he (along with Sen. Pittman) is one of the few legislators from the Mobile area who’s in a significant leadership position. He has a lot on his plate in this session.
13. David Perry | Chief of Staff | Governor Robert Bentley
Perry is incredibly intelligent and brings his experience as Finance Director into his role as Chief of Staff. Former Bentley Chief of Staff and current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Chuck Malone once told me that being Chief of Staff was like “drinking water from a fire hose.” Perry has jumped right in and taken on the challenge with great success. He runs day-to-day operations for the Administration and all of the Governor’s cabinet members report to him. He protects the Governor’s interests.
14. Clay Ryan | Special Counsel | Governor Robert Bentley
The discussion of Ryan’s inclusion in the Power & Influence 40 sparked a lot of great quotes. “He has taken on the role of Consigliere in the Bentley administration,” said one insider. “It seems like that guy must be in every meeting because he knows about every issue going on in the governor’s office — large or small,” said another. The bottom line is, his office is closest to the Governor’s for a reason. He acts as an informal liaison between Bentley and legislative leadership and the Governor values his council on a wide range of issues. He has also been a bridge to the Birmingham business community for Bentley.
15. Quentin Riggins | Vice President of Governmental Relations | Alabama Power Company
Riggins has a long history in Alabama politics. He was Governor Fob James’ legislative director in the House, he worked for former Speaker Seth Hammet, then was Governor Riley’s legislative director, then went to the Business Council of Alabama and then jumped out and lobbied on his own for a while. Now he’s in one of the top posts at Alabama Power. It is a rarity for Alabama Power to bring someone in from the outside. They have a history of promoting from within, and the fact that they when out and got Riggins is a testament to how talented he is. Everyone likes him. Everyone respects him. Period. He’s also very close to GOP leadership in the House and Senate.
16. Bob Geddie | Lobbyist | Fine Geddie & Associates
Geddie is a little lower on this list than he normally would be because he missed the first legislative session of the quadrinium because of the bingo trial (he was acquitted), but folks around the State House say he hasn’t lost a step. His client list is gigantic. He’s also raised a ton of money for candidates over the years. He is extremely well liked on both sides of the aisle and leadership trusts him. He’s picking back up right where he left off.
17. Josh Blades | Chief of Staff | Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard
Several legislators and insiders were adamant about Blades’ inclusion in the Power & Influence 40. “He’s probably the youngest guy to ever hold that job,” said one legislator, “but he carries the biggest stick.” The Speaker has given him a good amount of room to operate and he has used it well. He also digs in on policy issues in a way that gives him additional credibility with both legislators and policy folks. Blades is fiercely loyal to the Speaker.
18. Philip Bryan | Chief of Staff | President Pro Tem of the Senate Del Marsh
As Del Marsh’s Chief of Staff, Bryan has positioned himself as the hub of all activity in the Senate. He is a high-energy guy who’s on-the-go non-stop. He has significant input on how the Rules Committee proceeds when setting the calendar. The President Pro Tem can’t be everywhere at once and Bryan often speaks and meets on his behalf. His reach also extends beyond the 7th floor of the State House. He was Communications Director at Alabama Republican Party during Speaker Hubbard’s tenure as Chairman so he maintains a great relationship with the Speaker and his staff.
The unprecedented level of cooperation between the House and Senate chambers are a result of Blades and Bryan making sure leadership is on the same page and actively communicating. The way they work together further increases their ability to influence.
19. Johnny Johns | CEO | Protective Life Corporation
Chairman | Birmingham Business Alliance
Johns has been active in Alabama politics for years and is on every prominent politician’s call list. His network of business leaders around the state is second to none. He’s also a past Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama and maintains great relationships with GOP leadership. The current makeup of the Alabama Supreme Court is in large part a result of Johns’ efforts on behalf of the business community.
20. Henry Mabry | Executive Secretary | Alabama Education Association
Any AEA Chief would have been a cinch for the top 5 on this list prior to the GOP takeover. Paul Hubbert would have been #1 on this list for years — even trumping governors. Now, Mabry’s inclusion on this list is more-less a placeholder for the AEA. Their massive membership will always give them a voice, but it’s up to Mabry whether he sinks or rises. He’s off to a rocky start.