If money is power and politics is money, then Richmond is rolling in it.
The gubernatorial race is in full swing already, with Democrat Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine nipping at the heels of GOP heir Jerry Kilgore. There are not-so-quiet whispers about Gov. Mark Warner's presidential potential during his final months in office. Congressman Eric Cantor has become a money machine. And Mayor Doug Wilder is showing who's boss.
Power is always in flux, and our Power List is meant to be a snapshot in time. So how have things changed since our first ranking in 2004?
For the most part, Richmond's biggest corporations are getting bigger, and so is the region's reliance on their support and presence. Genworth Financial's Michael D. Fraizer, No. 38 last year, is a rising power player. Philip Morris is growing too.
The new city government has turned power on its head. Last year Mayor Rudy McCollum didn't even make the list; this year Wilder is No. 1. Former City Manager Calvin Jamision's old regime seems so long gone.
Leaders of Chesterfield and Henrico counties are exerting more power. Chesterfield Schools Superintendent Billy Cannaday has attracted more buzz.
Some key names from last year have become less prominent, a lesson that as formal power fades, it must be replaced in other ways.
Another person missing from the list is the woman who held spot No. 62 last year. We lost a grand dame in Mary Tyler Freeman Cheek McClenahan, who died at her Westmoreland home in January at age 87.
What hasn't changed is the picture of Richmond as a country club network of old money and good ol' boys. Women are sparse on the list again this year. Although the city is full of talented, intelligent female leaders, few are in a position to call the shots, hit the greens with the heavies or place a powerful call behind the scenes.
Should things change? Will they? And who will be behind those shifts, ready to emerge more powerful in 2006? For students of the power game, it's a battle royal.
Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation.
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