The 30 people who matter most in Obama's Washington--in order.

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16. Dick Durbin
Senator, Illinois
It was telling that Obama asked Durbin to introduce the biggest speech of his career, back in Denver. Along with Claire McCaskill, he is the president's staunchest ally in the Senate, a total loyalist. That's a good thing for Obama, because the well-liked Durbin is the second most powerful Democrat there. Durbin will confront one problem with the Senate Democrats: They all believe they have more experience than that upstart president.

17. John Kerry
Senator, Massachusetts
According to the rumor mill, Kerry traded his primary endorsement of Obama in return for the secretary of state gig. That would be a selection bound to provoke controversy with moderate Democrats, not to mention Republicans eager to frame Obama as soft. (Kerry wasn't tough enough to defend himself from the Swifties!) If he doesn't join the administration, the omnipresent surrogate could become head of the Senate banking committee--and the author of legislation creating the next regulatory state.

18. Eric Holder
Former deputy attorney general of the United States
His role in the pardoning of Marc Rich and the Elián González fiasco made him a favorite whipping boy of the right. But he's racked up serious wise-man points since serving as Clinton's deputy attorney general, getting tapped for all sorts of supersensitive missions--from investigating Michael Vick's dog-fighting for the NFL to co-heading Obama's veep search. Could a Justice Department appointment be far behind? The man known as "The Heartthrob" at U.S. Superior Court during his prosecutor days will need all his charm during that confirmation battle.

19. Andy Stern
President, Service Employees International Union
The only real powerhouse left in the House of Labor, he has kept seiu growing as other unions shrank. His people endorsed Obama early, and, with his man in the White House, Stern stands to be the go-to guy on issues of economic security. The animating notion of Obama's domestic policy is the creation of an economy that rewards work instead of wealth. Stern will be making sure that his hard-working union members get what Obama owes them.

20. Hillary Clinton
Senator, New York
Many people suspected she would do the bare minimum, and no more, to elect her erstwhile rival. By energetically stumping for Obama, she put those fears to bed. But how will she play the next four years? She can transform herself into a latter-day Ted Kennedy, a legislative maestro. (Thanks to Podesta, she'll have plenty of her former worker bees in top administration positions.) Or she can wait to see if Obama falls on his face, positioning her for one last run at the White House.

Next: Al Gore, Nicholas Sarkozy, and more.

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By TNR Staff