“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.

Albany Bureau Chief, The Buffalo News


Tom Precious

Last Year's Rank: 71

Change: +7

Executive Director, Working Families Party


Dan Cantor

Last Year's Rank: 84

Change: +19

Commissioner, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation


Joseph Martens

Last Year's Rank: 66

Change: No Change

Partner, Mercury Public Affairs


Michael McKeon

Last Year's Rank: 86

Change: +19

Counsel to the governor


Mylan Denerstein

Last Year's Rank: 28

Change: -40

Chief of Staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman


Micah Lasher

Last Year's Rank: 94

Change: +25

Chief Investment Officer, New York State Common Retirement Fund


Vicki Fuller

Last Year's Rank: n/a

Change: New

State Senator; Chair, Senate Republican Campaign Committee


Catharine Young

Last Year's Rank: n/a

Change: New

State Senator; Chair, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee


Michael Gianaris

Last Year's Rank: 74

Change: +2

Managing Partner, Larkin Development Group; Chair, Niagara Frontier Trans. Authority


Howard Zemsky

Last Year's Rank: n/a

Change: New

Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education of New York


Billy Easton

Last Year's Rank: 93

Change: +19

Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Mayor Bill de Blasio


Emma Wolfe

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New

New York City Budget Director


Dean Fuleihan

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New

President and Founder, The Empire Center for Public Policy


E.J. McMahon

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New

Former President, New York Gaming Association


James Featherstonhaugh

Last Year's Rank: 36

Change: -42

Chairman, Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Tom Prendergast

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New

Partner, Meara Avella Dickinson


Michael Avella

Last Year's Rank: 90

Change: +10

Vice President and Director of State Studies, Citizens Budget Commission


Elizabeth Lynam

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New

State Senator; Chair, Senate Finance Committee


John DeFrancisco

Last Year's Rank: 43

Change: -39

New York Post columnist, talk show host


Frederic Dicker

Last Year's Rank: 62

Change: -19

Counselor to the Governor


Andrew Zambelli

Last Year's Rank: N/A

Change: New