Lobbyists help shape policy, represent interests and keep people informed. Longleaf Politics wants to recognize the most powerful and influential lobbyists in the business.
We received more than three dozen nominations and chose the 20 most-cited for the final vote. Scores of Longleaf Politics readers submitted their votes for the top 10.
Here they are: The 10 most powerful lobbyists in North Carolina, as selected by Longleaf readers.
[Longleaf Politics will do this ranking every year. Think we have a glaring omission? Leave their name in the comments or send an email.]
1) Tom Apodaca
The former state senator retired in 2015 but still has the ear of North Carolina’s top lawmakers. He currently runs the influential firm Vista Strategies, and clients include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina and Rex Hospital.
2) Tom Fetzer
Fetzer is a former Raleigh mayor, former state Republican Party chairman and currently on the UNC Board of Governors. Through Fetzer Strategic Partners, the Wilmington native represents clients including the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and New Hanover County.
3) Dana Simpson
Simpson is the co-chairman of the government relations team at Smith Anderson in Raleigh, with clients including AT&T, Duke Energy, North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition and WakeMed. Simpson and his team have been key players in corporate law and economic incentives.
4) Kelli Kukura
Kukura is the director of government affairs at Duke Energy, the highly regulated and influential utility company. She previously represented the N.C. League of Municipalities and DuPont.
5) Canaan Huie
Huie is a former general counsel for the North Carolina Department of Revenue and currently a lobbyist on the powerhouse team at Moore & Van Allen. He knows his stuff: Huie spent more than a decade drafting legislation at the General Assembly.
Current clients include American Airlines, Baby+Co, Bank of America, Novant, and the Carolina Panthers.
6) Harold Brubaker
Brubaker served in the N.C. House from 1977 to 2012, and has the claim to fame of being the only Republican Speaker of the House in the 20th century. After leaving office, he was a leader of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the group that helped direct much of the Republican agenda in the early part of the decade.
His expertise lies in insurance, public utilities, and health and current clients include FedEx and GlaxoSmithKline.
7) Cady Thomas
Thomas is a partner with FOCUS Carolina and the director of government affairs at the powerful North Carolina Association of REALTORS.
8) Sarah Hardin
Sarah has represented some of the most influential interests in North Carolina. She’s currently manager of government affairs for the N.C. Dental Society, and her resume includes leading lobbying efforts for the state lottery and CenturyLink as well.
9) Alex Miller
Miller runs a Triangle-based lobbying shop that represents clients including the Apartment Association of North Carolina, North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and the Towing and Recovery Professionals of NC.
10) David Powers
Powers runs Powers Strategies LLC and serves on the UNC Board of Governors. He’s previously run lobbying efforts for Womble Carlyle and Reynolds American Inc.
Also receiving votes:
- Jim Herrell, Bode & Harrell LLP
- Andy Ellen, North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
- Wendy Kelly, FOCUS Carolina
- Andy Munn, Moore & Van Allen
- Gary Salamido, NC Chamber
- John Cooper, Connect C LLC
- Courtney Crowder, Crowder Consulting Co.
- Cameron Henley, Moore & Van Allen
- Tim Kent, North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association
- Lori Ann Harris, Carolina State Strategies
- Chris McClure, Brooks Pierce
Photos come from LinkedIn, Twitter and the lobbyists’ professional websites.