NRA ends AARP's stint at top of Fortune's DC power list

WASHINGTON: The National Rifle Association (NRA) has catapulted to

first place in the just-released Power 25 ranking by Fortune magazine,

upstaging the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which had

topped the list for the last three years.



The survey of 2,900 DC insiders was conducted to determine the relative

clout of more than 80 of the city's top lobbying groups. Participants

were polled in March and April, so the list reflects several months of

President Bush's influence.



While partisan ties and lobbying credentials on Capitol Hill matter, so

does smart messaging, as evidenced by the NRA's victory.



It's clout was enhanced last week when President Bush announced his

administration's policy on the gun issue to be very much in sync with

what the NRA's own communications efforts have promoted.



NRA membership has increased substantially since 1998, and the group

mounted an aggressive communications push in 2000. Fortune writer

Jeffrey Birnbaum added that the NRA's political outreach effort has been

credited with helping Bush capture the key swing states of Tennessee and

West Virginia.



But if partisan ties helped the NRA move up, with a dollars 500

million-plus budget, the AARP is no has-been yet. It has a sophisticated

communications apparatus and has been repositioning its policy agenda

and communications effort to bridge the generation gap between aging

baby boomers and seniors.



Elsewhere in the rankings, business organizations tended to do well, but

some labor organizations declined, leading Birnbaum to emphasize the

importance of partisan ties in determining where many groups placed.



One group that jumped a remarkable 11 places (from 19th to eighth) was

the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The American Hospital

Association also enjoyed success, rising from number 31 to number 13, as

did the Recording Industry Association of America, which rose 18 places

to number 22 - aided, no doubt, by the Napster farrago.



Despite Bush's anti-abortion stance, one of the biggest tumbles was for

the National Right to Life Committee, which fell from eighth to

eighteenth.



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