4. Calvin Say

October, 2004

Age: 52
Title: Speaker of the House
Nickname: The Good Son

Power Surge: Not forgetting where you come from is an important lesson for any politician to remember. But for Say, it’s a way of life. The soft-spoken, unassuming, onetime busboy, hasn’t gotten too big for his britches, building coalitions and fashioning consensus local style. That is, with humility and respect. Say kills them with kindness, giving important face time to all parties involved in a dispute. This is not to say that the speaker won’t lower the boom from time to time. But usually it’s a velvet hammer, and it doesn’t leave any marks.

Power Play: Say treats the powerful and the powerless with the same delicate touch, making him well loved in his district and well liked in the corridors of power. During his tenure, the Capitol culture has become considerably more amiable, which may have something to do with Say’s climb up our power list. In 2002, he was listed at No. 8.

Personal Voltage: He may not have the kind of personal magnetism needed for statewide office, but he’s plenty happy (and powerful) right where he is.

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