10. Barry Rand « The Washington Independent
Whenever you represent 40 million people — folks who also tend to vote — there’s a good chance your voice will carry in Washington. Such is the case with Rand, CEO of AARP. The organization’s influence was on display in 2003, when its last-minute endorsement of the Medicare prescription drug benefit helped push the bill over the finish line. And that sway may be even greater as Democrats bend over backwards to convince worried seniors that their health reform plans won’t cut Medicare benefits, a central criticism from across the aisle. Indeed, Democrats are now vowing to close Part D’s coverage gap altogether, a move that AARP has been pushing for years. Democrats don’t seem to know yet how they’ll pay to do it, but that may prove insignificant to winning the seniors’ vote in 2010.