The 50 most influential politicos in Oregon

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Over at PolitickerOR, they've posted their own ranking of the top 50 most powerful hacks, lobbyists, staffers, consultants in Oregon. (They excluded elected officials.)

Lists like this are designed to generate argument and debate. So, let's talk about it.

I'll start: The person ranked #39 absolutely, positively shouldn't be anywhere on this list. I'm sure I can think of at least fifty more people that should be ranked ahead of Mr. 39.

Here's the list. Who did they miss? Discuss.

1.Chip TerhuneKulongoski chief of staff
2.Josh KardonWyden chief of staff
3.Art TowersSEIU political director
4.Mark Nelsonlobbyist
5.Kerry TymchuckSmith state director
6.Bob Stolldonor, trial lawyer
7.Lisa Grovepollster
8.Tom ChamberlainAFL-CIO president
9.Dan Laveylobbyist, Smith strategist
10.BethAnne DarbyOEA political director
11.Tim NesbittKulongoski deputy chief
12.Larry Campbelllobbyist, former Speaker (R)
13.Eric Lemelsonwinemaker, enviro donor
14.Mark Wienerpolitical consultant (D)
15.Chuck Adamspolitical consultant (R)
16.Jordan Schnitzerdonor
17.Ryan DeckertOBA president
18.Liz Kaufmanpolitical consultant (D)
19.Phil Knightdonor
20.Len Bergsteinlobbyist
21.Connie SeeleySenate Dems chief of staff
22.Kristin Leonard & Kevin NeelyC&E Systems
23.Tim Phillipspolitical consultant (R)
24.Jon IsaacsMerkley campaign manager
25.Michael Simonelection lawyer
26.Loren Parkssexual hypnotist/donor
27.Meredith Wood SmithDPO Chair
28.Junki Yoshidadonor
29.Steve Novickpolitical consultant (D)
30.Bill Sizemoreinitiative racketeer
31.Dave Barrowslobbyist
32.Gary Conklinglobbyist
33.Ken AllenOregon AFSCME, exec. dir.
34.Mike Williams & Linda Lovedonor, trial lawyer
35.Jeff MapesOregonian reporter
36.Amy Langdonpolitical consultant (R)
37.Paul Romainlobbyist
38.Bob ShiprackBuilding Trades, exec. dir.
39.Kari Chisholmpolitical consultant (D)
40.Russ WalkerORP vice-chair, FreedomWorks
41.Kevin LooperOur Oregon, exec. dir.
42.Peter BragdonColumbia Sportswear VP
43.Alan Tresidderlobbyist
44.Debi Colemandonor
45.Trent LutzDPO exec. dir.
46.Vance DayORP chair
47.Beth BernardOregon Trial Lawyers exec. dir.
48.Andrew OverORP exec. dir.
49.John DiLorenzolobbyist
50.Stacey Dycuspolitical consultant (D)

Head on over to Politicker for full write-ups and photos.

  • LT (unverified)

    Good list, but the descriptions seem to need a proofreader.

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    Based on the comments here, you'd think Kari would rate above 39. Perhaps old structures (see #3, 8, 10 etc) still have more juice than the netroots?

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    People they left out, that clearly should be ranked higher than me:

    Barry Pack, political consultant (D) Bill McCormick, restaurateur, Ambassador to NZ Bob Caldwell, Oregonian opinion editor Bob Stacey, 1000 Friends exec dir Charles Swindells, banker, Ambassador to NZ Cheryl Perrin, political consultant (D) Chuck Sheketoff, OCPP exec dir Duke Shepard, AFL-CIO political dir Duncan Wyse, Oregon Business Council Dylan Amo, former Oregon Club for Growth guy Hiram Sachs, political consultant (D) Homer Williams, developer Jefferson Smith, Oregon Bus Project Joan Mooney Evans, Hooley chief of staff John Fregonese, land-use consultant Jonathan Poisner, OLCV exec dir Judy Peppler, Qwest Julia Brim-Edwards, Nike Michele Rossolo, FuturePAC exec dir Pat Egan, Pacificorp Patricia McCaig, pollster & strategist Rob Wagner, AFT-OR political dir Stephen Kafoury, lobbyist, former elected Steve Janik, attorney Terry Bean, donor Tim Hibbits, pollster Wayne Kinney, DPO Natl Committeeman, Wyden staffer Win McCormack, donor

    And that's just in five minutes of thinking about it. I'm sure there are plenty more....

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    Good list, but the descriptions seem to need a proofreader.

    Yeah, those are my descriptions - not Politicker's.

    Based on the comments here, you'd think Kari would rate above 39.

    No kidding. Some of the folks hanging out at BlueOregon that seem to think I'm sort of Grand Puppetmaster of Oregon politics. Which couldn't possibly be further from the truth.

  • LeLo (unverified)

    I love that Oregon's #26 most influential politico is a sexual hypnotist. That Loren Parks gets me everytime!

  • Pat (unverified)

    This is a silly list. Where are the congressional staff?

    Stacey Dycus is on this list, but not Willie Smith, Joan Mooney Evans, Lisa Rockower, and Karmen Fore?

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    Paul Romain does seem a wee bit low, though. Wonder what the more connected hacky types think of the list and people's relative place on it?

  • kmg (unverified)

    Jennifer Yocom - Ran campaigns of both Erik Sten and Sam Adams. Both races were contested and she put them over without a runoff. She also was a major force in the vitality of the Bus Project.

  • anon (unverified)

    Only 10 of these are women. 2 of the 8 share billing with men. Guess Oregon is a guy state.

  • anon (unverified)
    1. And that should have read two of the 11 share their slots with men.
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    Yes, Jen Yocom!

    And his mayoral run didn't go so well, but you gotta include Sho Dozono.

    Where are the congressional staff?

    Not to mention Portland City Hall staff...

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    Yeah, eleven women.... that's both a failing of the list and a failing of reality.

    I'd also include Elaine Franklin, GOP consultant and the latest Mrs. Bob Packwood.

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    Much as I hate to admit it but Sizemore needs to be in the top 10. Not that he contributes in any way constructively, but we spend an awful lot of time and money defeating him and the legislature must constantly think about the implications of a ballot measure on any controversial legistlation. And how can we forget Mr. Mannix. In spite of his ability to snatch defeat from victory, he is also a perpetual political pain with a big impact on the political discussion and spending in Oregon.

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    OMG, you're right, John.

    How does Kevin Mannix get left off this list?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Kari writes, "OMG, you're right, John.

    How does Kevin Mannix get left off this list?"

    Same way Lars Larson gets left off (or should that be right off?) Some people earn their irrelevance.

    I note that not only women get little notice, but also the down-State and rural folks. Like Kari, I think that Wayne Kinney should make the list as he is after all the man in most of the non-smoke filled rooms of power. Also, Pat Ackley has been behind the scenes for years and pulls a few strings here and there.

  • John Skelter (unverified)

    Not much ethnic diversity in the list. Sad, but true. As a progressive I would expect more.

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    The fact that I'm not on this list renders the entire thing useless.

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    I feel the same way. ; )

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    Totally agree with your list...nice that your remembered some of the gay folk. I cannot believe, in particular, that Terry Bean did not make the original list. And what about Dan Ryan, the former co-chair of the School Board and new CEO of the Portland Schools Foundation?

    And what about Fred Miller?

  • Josh Reynolds (unverified)

    Whether you like him or not, Dale Riddle.

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    and btw, number 39 on the list, work with a successful Senate candidate and three posts up on blueoregon right now...too bad parenting is slowing Kari down...:).

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    We could go all HuffPost and have a 50 Hottest Politicos in Oregon. Saw me some honies at the state convo.

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    Not much ethnic diversity in the list. Sad, but true. As a progressive I would expect more.

    Well, most of that is a failure of reality - not a failure of the listmaking effort.


  • [email protected] (unverified)

    Joan Mooney Evans? I think I'm going to be sick. Talk about earning her irrelevance. Kari, reality please.

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    I agree that Carla and Pat Ackley should be listed. Dan Carol should clearly be on any top 50 list for Oregon if not the country.

    To make this not so Portland-centric, the off-the-top-of-my-head Lane County contributions that are not already listed above would be James Mattiace formerly OLCV board member and Lane Bus Project Chair(even though he is in Morocco he still has quite a lot of influence on the local political scene), Jana Rygas (long time environmental activist and brilliant political strategist), Juine Chada (Wyden staffer), Becky Flynn (BRO staffer), Harriet Merrick (Planned Parenthood and ACLU board member), Jared Mason-Gere (DPLC Chair and Dem. House staffer), George Grier (DPLC vice-chair, Lane Farm Bureau), Tony Corcoran, Autumn Wilburn (DNC staffer and former rodeo queen), Chuck Lindholm and Jack Roberts. CJ Mann, Pat Riggs Henson and Gary Gillespie from AFSME would be on any local list.

    Not sure what is going on with the other counties but we have no shortage of women wielding political influence here in Lane County.

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    Ah well, Kari, so long as they THINK you have the power, wield it like a meathook. Make someone tremble. Make others feed you peeled grapes. Offer to be godfather to their children. And demand a raise from your skinflint employer.


    In addition to Carla, I would add Jeff. And maybe Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber. Tom Walsh? The CEOs of Mentor Graphics or Intel? Doesn't anyone wield power for Big Timber anymore, like Allyn Ford, Rob Freres and Aaron Jones?

    Downstaters like Dave Frohnmayer. Jack Roberts. Gayle Atteberry.

    The list just seems terribly short and weighing the most influential? I'd say, follow the money first.

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    I keep thinking of names that should have been on the list:

    Margi Hoffman, coordinated campaign Maura Roche, lobbyist Michelle Stranger-Hunter, NARAL Tom Novick, M&R Pat McCormick, lobbyist Paul Phillips, lobbyist/consultant

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    And maybe Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber.

    They explicitly said they were excluding elected officials and former Governors and Senators. I think they also excluded former statewides too, judging from the lack of Jim Hill, Dan Gardner, Dave Frohnmayer, Norma Paulus, Phil Keisling, etc.

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    I agree that the lack of diversity is not a list issue as much as it is a matter of a lack of outreach. Politics is an insider game by nature and we need to do a better job of building our bench with people that don't look like the usual suspects whether that be in rural areas, the communities of color, religious groups, etc. Keeping the status quo is like fielding a baseball team and expecting the pitcher to cover center field, it just won't work in the long term. If we don't start building a deeper bench with some players from different communities, the other side will and we will lose our political advantage.


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    I'd add Jonah Edelman somewhere in the mix.

  • Insider (unverified)

    Chip Terhune and Connie Seeley are rightly on this list.

    But they left off Jeanne Atkins, Dmitri Palmateer, Debbie Dorris Koreski, Geoff Sugerman, Amelia Porterfield, and Michele Rossolo who collectively lead the Oregon House Democrats' staff team. They are major players with major achievements under their belts -- and many more to come in the future. And 67% of them are women!

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    Actually they had many former elected officals on their. I don't know why Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber being former governors matters at all.


    Keep plugging away, your doing a great job! I would have voted for you.


    Your so cute when you brag!


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    Uhh..I was joking.

    I have no business being on a list like this. And if someone was going to slap my name on it, it would have to be the 1,357,459 most influential people in Oregon politics. I'd be down in the 1,000,000 area.

    I'm just a blogger and writer. People like Jenni Simonis actually do real stuff.

  • Stunned (unverified)

    Boy, I'm struck how at least about the top half of this list is the very embodiment of the Peter Principle, and how that goes a LONG way to explaining the venal, surly, dysfunctional governance in this state. I can also think of a few names nobody mentioned who also belong in that top half because their influence is way out of proportion to their brains or the quality of their character and contributions, but since they weren't outed by PolitickerOR, I won't either.

    Thanks for bringing it to our attention Kari (and actually, I think it is actually a testament to you that you aren't in that top half).

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I wonder why Mark Nelson ranks way above most other lobbyists listed, such as Dave Barrows who probably has as many clients? I suppose because of all of his ballot measure work.

  • anonRepub (unverified)

    I know you all are focused on the Democratic side, which is understandable. So if you don't mind my making some suggestions from the right?

    I think that Amy Langdon and Vance Day are way over rated. As is Elaine Franklin (ok not on that list but someone upthread suggested her.)

    I agree, add Dale Riddle.

    Dave Hunicutt? Larry George? Rob Kremer?

    And though the Republicans are lagging behind the left in the new media are there any that might make the list?

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    This list is pretty interesting and for the most part, pretty thorough. Kari, you should be on the list and I'm glad you are. Many have tried but none have succeeded building this "water cooler" format on the interwebs.

    To Val's point, politics is an insiders' game. There isn't going to be a ton of room for the folks who check "other." Even if you play the game, you aren't invited to the table that often. But I think that's part of the downside of living in a pretty homogeneous state.

    I'm convinced times will change as will the faces of the players. I look forward to watching things unfold.

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    I'm just a blogger and writer.

    None of us has any real influence, but if you devoted a slot to the entire blogosphere, it might make us the fiftieth most influential. Might. Kari's there almost in spite of his association with us rabble.

  • LT (unverified)

    What have Hunnicutt or Kremer won recently? Seems to me the young farmers who were the face of Measure 49 (yea, that's a group, not an individual) are more powerful--look at the results of Yes on 49 in rural counties.

    And I would choose Frank Morse over any Republican who deserves to be listed--for his work on the Public Comm. on the Legislature (no one from that group mentioned except for Connie Seeley) and as the hope of someday restoring the Republicans to the glory of the McCall-Atiyeh years.

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    I agree Kari should be on this list. OK, folks on my side can slap me now. However in all fairness his idea (OK and his other fellow travlers, but I am just thinking as a figurehead.) with BO did break some new ground. And he is involved in other campaigns.

    The fact that he is one of the "go-to guys" with the mainstream press with news stories periodically I think speaks to that.

    Actually Hunnicutt (again more as a figure head) should be in that group. Oh sure ya'll can call up M49 all you want but what about M7? M47? He (and his organization) has shaped the debate on land use in Oregon over the last ten years.

    Would you have even HAD a M49 if not for Hunnicutt's group?

    And further the list speaks a lot of folks behind the scenes. Whenever there are discussions of Republican candidates and if they are going to be viable, there is always a question "what does OIA think?"

    Whether you like it or not Hunnicutt is always part of the discussion.

    Kremer? Well he does have a radio show. He is part of the group that Tim Phillips put together and he made the list.

    He is the father of the charter school movement.

    He plays a role when discussing Republican candidates. Maybe not so much as Hunnicutt.

    Although his recent comments about Sen. Smith might have had him removed from some Christmas card lists.

    Other than all that it is probably a prett good list and one of those fun things to bounce around. I am not surprised that there are more Democrats on that list. It is Oregon after all.

    Just think however of some of the folks who, ten years ago, would have been on it but now would not get close.

    Neil Goldschmidt Craig Berkman

    Ouch that would have to hurt.

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    Are my eyes decieving me or do I not see Earl Blumenour on that list? Shouldn't he be there somewhere?

  • Brian Hartung (unverified)

    Remarkably absent are Marla Rae and Fred VanNatta. And what about Scott Harra at DAS?

  • Elven (unverified)

    Great list! Of course, some of the most powerful people intentionally stay behind the scenes. Thus, they are glad not to be on the list.

    Thus, I give a vote to "Anonymous" to be on the list.

  • waste of our time (unverified)

    this must be like porn for blue oregon readers

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    How did Josh Kardon get to be No. 2? Given his performance on this site representing Hillary and failing to respond to her critics it is difficult to see how he even made the cut.

  • Gin (unverified)

    How about the list everyone really wants, forget power and influence, who has the looks in Oregon politics??? Here is my first crack at the list (in no particular order), but as always on BlueOregon, this is "up" for discussion.

    Drew Johnston – Tobias Read Staff

    Rob Wagner –lobbyist

    Karmen Fore – DeFazio staff

    Brett Barton – State House candidate

    Mayor Elect Sam Adams

    Joe Bollenbaugh – Blumenauer staff

    Hasina Squires – lobbyist

    Joyce Fleming – Blumenauer staff

    Patrick Capper - lobbyist

    Sarah Walker -

    Treasure Mackley – Kate Brown staff

    Amanda Dalton - lobbyist

    Senator Jason Atkinson

    Representative Chris Edwards

    Angie Dilkes - lobbyist

    Nabil Kanso

    Erica Hagedorn - lobbyist

    Jen Gilbreth – DeFazio staff

    Kristine Phillips - lobbyist

    Kristen Leonard - C & E Systems

    Shawn Miller - lobbyist

    Jefferson Smith

    Lauren Rhodes- lobbyist

    Jenna Swearingen - lobbyist

    Marshall Jenning – Wu staff

    Leyla Estes – House Republican office

    Jarel Lapan – Obama staff

    Hillary Barbour – Blumenauer Staff

    Jack Dempsey - lobbyist

    Trent Lutz – Democratic Party of Oregon

    Representative Scott Bruin

    Elizabeth Wilson – Blumenauer Staff

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    Oh Bill, your candidate won. Can't you let it go?

  • Byard Pidgeon (unverified)

    Downstate list includes Sizemore and Ron Saxton...and most of all, their paymaster and puppeteer, Dick Wendt of Jeld-Wen, who also pulls a lot of Mannix's strings and finances much of the right wing agenda. Amazing that Wendt manages to be under the radar so much.

  • brirob (unverified)

    Don't forget Dan Carol, the content advisor to the Obama campaign. He resides in Eugene but currently is working in Obama's Chicago headquarters.

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