On the record, no one in Washington wants to speculate on who will come out of the midterm elections having gained—or at least held onto—the Capitol’s most precious commodity: Power. Privately, however, figuring out who to suck up to next has surpassed guessing Bob Woodward’s sources as DC’s most popular parlor game. We conducted our unscientific survey of elected officials, staffers, and others with a vested interest in coloring their noses the right shade of brown, and came up with this list.
1. Haley Barbour, Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Right now, Democrats hold a narrow majority of the nation’s governorships: 26 to Republicans’ 24. Thanks to Barbour’s aggressive leadership, the GOP will likely come out of the midterms with 29 seats, an especially valuable advantage as states use this year’s census figures to redraw their electoral maps. “It’s going to be his night,” says a Republican staffer working on the midterms. “He is basically the de-facto chairman of the party because of how weak Steele is.” The staffer dismisses speculation that Barbour may become the RNC chairman de jute. “He’s not going to run for chairman because I’m sure he’s interested in running for president.” A freshman House Republican notes that in addition to money, Barbour is in a position to offer incoming elected officials the advice and counsel of someone who’s worked at every level of the game. “People will gravitate to him.”