The Most Powerful People In Denver

Our list of the movers and shakers who are shaping the Mile High City—now. 

April 2014


redarrow 18. TIM MARQUEZ

Executive Chairman, Venoco Inc. (12)

This self-made oilman continues to run one of the state’s top energy producers, which in recent years has expanded into fracking, further extending his influence. Tim Marquez and his wife, Bernadette, also run the TBM Foundation, which provides need-based college scholarships to DPS teens and increases access to health care and human services for low-income, high-risk Denverites.


redarrow 19. TOURISM LEADERS


Richard Scharf (CEO, Visit Denver) and Al White (director, Colorado Come to Life) aren’t co-workers, but this duo is a one-two punch in Colorado tourism efforts, from skiing to weed (although neither of them is a huge fan of the latter). If Denver lures the 2016 Republican National Convention, their sway will only increase. In the mountains, Rob Katz (CEO, Vail Resorts) and Melanie Mills (CEO and president, Colorado Ski Country USA) are the major forces behind our $3 billion ski tourism industry. 


redarrow 20. JARED POLIS

 U.S. Representative (41)

Over the past several years, while many of his colleagues in Congress have resorted to either grabbing empty headlines or acting as bottlenecks, Jared Polis has simply been productive in Washington. The Democrat has helped pass multiple laws aimed at improving opportunities and standards for students and teachers and ending gender- and sexual orientation–based discrimination. He’s also been a vocal proponent of modifying and updating marijuana prohibition laws, and he’s been a tireless advocate for policies—such as ensuring that environmental safeguards are established in communities where fracking is underway—that benefit his constituents at home in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District.


redarrow 21. MARK UDALL

 U.S. Senator (14)

udallColorado’s senior senator has had some recent ups and downs—including family-related setbacks and scrutiny of his office over whether it pressured state insurance officials to alter their Obamacare cancellation numbers. Then in February, the Democrat’s still relatively smooth path to re-election ran into a roadblock when GOP darling Cory Gardner entered the race. (See number 25.) Mark Udall still has a formidable campaign war chest, incumbent status, and an admirable record of environmental activism and vocal criticism of the Obama administration’s NSA domestic surveillance practices. But to maintain his influence, he’ll have to navigate a race that’s suddenly changed into one of the tightest and most scrutinized campaigns in the nation.


redarrow 22. MICKEY ZEPPELIN

 Developer, Zeppelin Development Inc. (new)

zeppelinRiver North, aka RiNo, has long been the brainchild of Mickey Zeppelin—his son, Kyle, runs the company’s day-to-day operations—and this master developer’s vision for downtown Denver’s last untapped area is finally coming to fruition. Over the past few years, the long-promised residential and commercial activity has been percolating from I-70 to Coors Field. Although it remains a gritty work in progress, RiNo is one of the hottest areas in town for new restaurants, galleries, clubs, condos, and apartment complexes, and the Zeppelins have had a hand in almost all of it.


redarrow 23. MARIO CARRERA

 Chief Revenue Officer, Entravision (16)

Still the most visible media magnate in the Latino community, the nonpartisan Mario Carrera also presided over the post-2010 legislative redistricting that shaped Colorado’s political races for the ensuing decade—without turning our congressional borders into transparent voter-grabs.


redarrow 24. DUDLEY BROWN

 Founder and Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners; Executive Vice President, National Association for Gun Rights (new)

dudleybrownHis methods are often vile—Dudley Brown is notorious for twisting facts about candidates’ positions and bullying them into supporting his Second Amendment absolutism—but they’re usually ruthlessly effective. The activist, virtually unknown in mainstream Colorado until recently, has landed on this list almost solely because he and his allies have all but hijacked the GOP primary process over the past several election cycles. The question is: How many more of his self-selected candidates have to kill the party’s statewide chances before the powers that be (or would be) finally decide to try and neuter this gun-toting intimidator?

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