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
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