“Power is a lot like real estate,” says Rep. Francis Underwood in the political drama House of Cards. “It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.”

Underwood is a fictional character, but in the real world of politics his words often hold true. In New York, proximity to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who holds the state’s highest elected office, can serve as an indicator of political clout. Nearly a dozen people on this year’s list owe their jobs directly to the governor, and many others are highly ranked largely because of their connections to him or to other state power brokers. Even those who have earned election to a high level office generally owe their position to key patrons and mentors who helped them climb the rungs of power. Cuomo himself grew up with a father who was governor, after all.

However, simply being close to a powerful figure does not always mean that one is powerful as a result. Dozens of state commissioners and agency heads are nowhere to be found on this list. Sandra Lee, the governor’s longtime girlfriend, did not make the cut, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy just squeezed on to it for a second consecutive year at No. 100.

As Rep. Underwood notes in a later episode, “Proximity to power deludes some into thinking they wield it.”

To give our readers an accurate portrayal of who really holds sway in Albany politics, City & State presents its second annual Albany Power 100. Of course, any list of this sort is bound to generate criticism and controversy. We acknowledge that our ranking is imperfect—yet it is not arbitrary. Off-the-record conversations with many of the state’s most savvy political insiders helped us arrive at a list that we hope will resound with the people who know the score as well as anyone—our readers.

Chief of Staff, Independent Democratic Conference


John Emrick

Last Year's Rank: n/a

Change: New

Assemblyman; Chair, Housing Committee; Chair, State Democratic Party


Keith Wright

Last Year's Rank: 47

Change: +24

Former Secretary to the Governor


Steven M. Cohen

Last Year's Rank: 30

Change: +6

President and CEO, Partnership for New York City


Kathryn Wylde

Last Year's Rank: 17

Change: -8

Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker


Jennifer Cunningham

Last Year's Rank: 23

Change: -3

Chairman, Association for a Better New York; President, Rudin Management Company


William Rudin

Last Year's Rank: 40

Change: +13

President, New York State AFL-CIO


Mario Cilento

Last Year's Rank: 53

Change: +25

Partner, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker


Kenneth Shapiro

Last Year's Rank: 31

Change: +2

President, New York State Public Employees Federation


Susan Kent

Last Year's Rank: 64

Change: +34

President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York


Gary LaBarbera

Last Year's Rank: 33

Change: +2

President, Greater New York Hospital Association


Kenneth Raske

Last Year's Rank: 43

Change: +10

Billionaire venture capitalist and investment banker


Kenneth Langone

Last Year's Rank: 31

Change: -2

President, New York State Civil Service Employees Association


Daniel Donohue

Last Year's Rank: 46

Change: +12

President, United Federation of Teachers


Michael Mulgrew

Last Year's Rank: 44

Change: +9

State Superintendent of Financial Services


Benjamin Lawsky

Last Year's Rank: 52

Change: +16

Founder and Chairman, The Related Companies


Stephen Ross

Last Year's Rank: 39

Change: +2

President, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council


Peter Ward

Last Year's Rank: 72

Change: +34

Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents


Merryl Tisch

Last Year's Rank: 34

Change: -5

Host, Capital Tonight


Liz Benjamin

Last Year's Rank: 45

Change: +5

Assemblyman; Chairman, Bronx Democratic Party


Carl Heastie

Last Year's Rank: n/a

Change: New

Albany Managing Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig


Harold Iselin

Last Year's Rank: 48

Change: +6