Ogden, Duncan Get Key Assignments Amid Leadership Reshuffling

Eltife to Face Sadler in Runoff as Attacks Stagger Merritt

Edwards Wins
Runoff Spot Versus Seliger

Seliger, Sadler Appear to Be Leading
the Packs

GOP Fields Record Class for Congress with Final Surprise

State Prosecutor Starts Preliminary Inquiry into Attack Ad

Welcome to the Hotel Texarkana: SadlerGets Lawyers' Support

Congressman Might be Behind Move to Stop Doggett

South Texas Group Might Shift Support Away from Judge

Valley Powers Back State Judge in Flores' Place

Congressional Contest Gets
Devine Intervention

Dozens of Texas Republicans Line Up
to Run

Democrat Throws
Wrench into Hammer's Plans

Moore, Davis Seek East Texas House Seats

Candidates Jockey
for South Texas Seats

Novel Ex-Judge Throws Name in Race for CD 2

GOP Donor, Delegate Takes Candidate Role

Doggett's Bid Is A Bad Déjà Vu for Barrientos

Barrientos Gets Word Out He's Running

Christian Carries Conservative Mantle into CD 1 Race


Bill Messer
Texas Lobby Group, Former State Representative
Neal T. "Buddy" Jones
Hillco Partners, Former State Representative, Executive Assistant to Speaker

Rusty Kelley
Public Strategies, Former Executive Assistant to Speaker, House Sgt. at Arms

David Sibley
Former State Senator, Waco Mayor
Randy Erben
Former Office of State-Federal Relations Director, Assistant Secretary of State
Elton Bomer
Former State Representative, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State
Galt Graydon
Graydon Group, Former Senate Aide, Senate Investigating Committee Counsel
J.E. "Buster" Brown
Former State Senator, Former Assistant District Attorney
Demetrius McDaniel
Akin Gump, Former Department of Agriculture Special Assistant, House Aide
Gib Lewis
Business Partners LTD, Former House Speaker, City Council Member
Gaylord Armstrong
McGinnis Lochgridge & Kilgore, Campaign Finance Consultant, Former Congressional Aide

Dick Brown
Former Texas Municipal League Executive Director


Stan Schlueter
The Schlueter Group, Former State Representative


Jim Warren
Former Aide to Secretary of State, Campaign Consultant


Mignon McGarry
Former State Senate Aide


Gordon Johnson, Rob Johnson
Johnson & Johnson

Jack Roberts
Former Deputy Comptroller
Clint Hackney
Former State Representative

Steve Bresnen
Former General Counsel to Lieutenant Governor, Former Aide to Comptroller


Ron Lewis
Former State Representative



Mike McKinney
Wholesale Beer Distributors


John Fainter
Association of Electric Companies

Bill Hammond
Texas Association of Business
Rick Donley
Beer Alliance of Texas
Jeff Bonham
CenterPoint Energy



Reggie Bashur
Bashur, Carney & Sullivan


Bill Miller


Ray Sullivan
Bashur, Carney & Sullivan


Bryan Eppstein
Bryan Eppstein & Company

Nick Voinis
Public Strategies


Locke Liddell & Sapp
Gary Compton, Bill Jones, Bruce LaBoon, Yuniedth Midence, Robert Miller, Alan Waldrop
Akin Gump
Sandy Kress, Melissa Irion, Demetrius McDaniel, John Pitts, Jody Richardson
Hughes Luce
John Erskine, Myra Leo, Larry McGinnis, Marc Shivers
Gardere Wynne Sewell
A.W. (Woody) Pogue, Carl Richie, Robert Spellings, Kimberly Yelkin
Bracewell Patterson
Jim Chapman, Mindy Ellmer, Pat Oxford, David Thompson, Jill Warren
Vinson & Elkins
Joe Bill Watkins
Jackson Walker
Zack Brady, Kathy Hutto, Ed Small
Loeffler, Jonas & Tuggey
Allen Beinke, James Jonas, Lisa Mayes
Winstead, Sechrest & Minick
Robert Bass, Janis Carter, Forrest Roan
McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore
Gaylord Armstrong, Campbell McGinnis, Keith Strama
Kemp Smith
Clyde Alexander, Thomas Forbes
Public Strategies
Joey Bennett, Rusty Kelley, Carol McGarah
Hillco Partners
David Anderson, Hector Gutierrez, Jay Howard, Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, Bill Miller, J. McCartt, Dan Pearson, Clint Smith
Graydon Group
Jay Brown, Galt Graydon, Machree Gibson, Jay Propes, Shannon Swan
Texas Lobby Group
Lara Laneri Keel, Bill Messer, Ellen Williams
Capital Consultants
Chuck Bailey, Billy Clayton, Hector Uribe



Texans for Lawsuit Reform
Leo Linbeck, Richard Weekley, Richard Trabulsi


Texas Trial Lawyers Association
Tommy Townsend, James Fields


Texas Medical Association
Richard Johnson, Rocky Wilcox


Texas Civil Justice League
Ralph Wayne, Jerry "Nub" Donaldson

Texas Association of Realtors
Daniel Gonzalez, Mark Lehman, Bill Stinson



Texas Municipal League
Shanna Igo


Texas Association of Counties
Carey Boethel


Texas Association of School Boards
Cathy Douglass


Texas State Teachers Association
Jay Levin

Texas Classroom Teachers Association
Jeri Stone

January 23, 2004

View from the Owners' Box:
Capitol Inside Unveils Lobby
Rankings on 1st Anniversary

Education Lobby Gains Power with Special
School Finance Session on Horizon

Best New Lobby Group:
The Ratliff Company

Lobby Battles to Watch
at the Texas Capitol in 2004

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

When the Rio Nuevo partnership in Midland needed permission from the Texas Legislature to transport water pumped from aquifers down the Rio Grande, what did the group of investors have in common with State Farm Insurance last year? When State Farm needed emergency help to battle a blaze sparked by political rhetoric about rate shock, what common thread did the firm share with the Texans for Lawsuit Reform? When TLR looked to the free-agent market for help in the fight over medical malpractice liability and tort reform, what common denominator did its leaders have with Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick?

The answer to all of the above is the same: They all had Bill Messer to get the job done.

They usually knew where to find the former House Calendars chairman because he always seemed to be somewhere in the vicinity of the second floor hallway behind the House of Representatives. That's where Craddick has an office - and that's where Messer spent a significant amount of his valuable time while guiding his former House colleague through an often-tumultuous first season as the chamber's first Republican presiding officer in more than 130 years.

Since representing Belton as a Democrat for eight years in the 1980's, the short, unassuming lawyer has been a powerful force in the Capitol lobby. But in 2003 he had to split time between four dozen high-dollar clients and the speaker - who depended on him from the start when he chose Messer as one of three lobbyists to oversee his transition from a veteran representative to the presiding officer's job.

Whether the heat was on over tort reform, the state budget or redistricting, Craddick continued to turn to Messer for a calm and intellectual but down-to-earth perspective on the intricate problems he faced day to day. Messer was the unofficial chief of staff that the speaker didn't think he would need - and he enjoyed a level of influence and access that few if any members of the lobby or the Legislature for that matter ever imagine much less achieve. That experience helped him vault from fourth place to first on the list of top hired gun lobbyists in Capitol Inside's 2nd Annual Texas Lobby Power Rankings.

Today marks the first anniversary of Capitol Inside's debut on the World Wide Web. We kicked it all off that very first day with the original lobby power rankings as the centerpiece story - and now we're celebrating the first day of our second year by unveiling an updated package that's bigger and better even than the inaugural version. And while Capitol Inside was a spur-of-the-moment creation in unexplored terrain, we can say now with immeasurable confidence that we will publish the third annual lobby rankings exactly one year from today. Hence, a tradition is born.

Sizing up the lobby proved to be an appropriate way to launch our coverage of the Capitol at a time when power was about to be wielded like never before. With the changing of the partisan guard in the Texas House, the acclimation of the Senate to a new style of leadership and the maturing of a governor who's probably more sympathetic to the lobby's concerns than any of his modern-day predecessors were, the Texas Capitol became an unplowed field of opportunity for lobbyists in 2003. They found innovative ways to create bills and roads that had not been taken down which to shepherd landmark legislation through perfect storms. The most influential lobbyists had maximum cooperation from the leadership. It was a bad year for the economy outside the beltway, and state government spent much of 2003 in the deepest budget hole in Texas history. But the lobby remained relatively immune from the downturn and its top members prospered while finding more doors open than they'd known before.

It was the year of the owner's box - when the roughest, toughest and most amazingly effective group of lobbyists in town could be found in their regular seats in the gallery above the House floor - where the members on the floor below could see them and maybe think twice before casting a vote. The Texans for Lawsuit Reform raised the bar of success for team lobbying while giving new meaning to the analogy that politics is a contact sport that's not for the fein of heart. TLR's point men in Austin were among more than 1,600 lobbyists who were registered to do business at the Texas Capitol in 2003. It was a year in which advocates for businesses, lawyers, education and other concerns ignored the bad economy outside the beltway while jockeying seats at the new table where they hoped to feast in Republican style.

The Hired Guns

Bill Messer passed three of the most successful lobbyists of the past generation in his ascension to the number one ranking in our first category - the top 20 hired gun lobbyists going into 2004. A compelling case for the top spot could bee made for Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, the former House member and Hillco Partners co-founder who moved from third up to second on the new rankings in the wake of another banner year. A Democrat who hailed from Hillsboro while serving in the House with Messer, Jones represented 56 clients that included big businesses, family businesses, school districts, river authorities, hospitals, firemen and other public employees. He was a key player at the heart of the debate on the high-priority issues from homeowners' insurance reform to homebuilder regulation. He helped defuse a powder keg situation over high-speed online access. He led interference for the Dallas Cowboys in a pitch for public help for a new playing field and surrounding entertainment complex. He did so good that he passed Rusty Kelley - who still to this day may be the most successful lobbyist who ever worked the halls of the Capitol. He's still one of the best in the business - as his number three ranking on the new CI list suggests. A former House sergeant at arms and top aide to Speaker Billy Clayton, Kelley worked independently before joining Public Strategies, where he directs the public affairs section. He was the eyes and ears at the Capitol for 58 clients in 2003.

The Rest of the Best

The rankings once again feature the category gauging the top lobbyists who have the ability to take on as many different clients and issues as they so choose. They are also known as hired guns. Some are members of lobbying groups. Some belong to law firms. Some work for themselves.

The category has been expanded from 15 a year ago to 20 on this year's list. The second and third categories also appeared on the original lobby rankings last year. The top five single-client lobbyists are focused in a specific area of policy-setting and answer to only one boss - usually an employer. The top five consultants who lobby are diverse professionals who are generally known as communications and-or campaign consultants first and lobbyists second. Every lobbyist on the single-client and consultant-lobbyist list operates on the same level of power as the top 20 hired guns. The 2004 edition includes several new categories as well: the top five lobby teams, top five law firm lobby practices, top five associations that lobby and a special report on former government education experts who are quickly gaining more power in the months leading up to an expected special session on public school finance.

The Art of Ranking Lobbyists

The Texas Lobby Power Rankings are based on a subjective and unscientific system of information gathering from a small group of selective advisors that includes members of the Legislature, the press, the consulting business or the lobby itself. Factors such as the amount of compensation and the number of clients a lobbyist reports to the Texas Ethics Commission are incorporated into the decision-making process along with a number of intangible variables such as a lobbyist's connections, overall access, reputation, experience - and in even-numbered years like this - actual track record during the legislative session (or sessions) of the previous calendar year.

As your eyes scroll down the new lists, you will inevitably disagree with some of the names on the screen before you and wonder why certain others aren't there instead. Keep in mind what we said a year ago - success as a lobbyist can't be calculated by the amount of money somebody makes or the sheer number of clients they report or the marquee nature of their Rolodex. The Texas Lobby Power Rankings are not portending to say who is the best lobbyist in town or the nicest or the busiest. This is all about power - and that's an art - not a science.

Copyright 2003 Capitol Inside
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