He's not an elected official, and his name rarely gets in the news.
But Secretary of Finance Stuart W. Connock outpolled his boss, Gov. Charles S. Robb, who was third, in a new survey on the effectiveness of top state leaders. In second place was state Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles.
"He can't comment because he's out sick," Connock's secretary said this week. Connock, the ultimate insider, later declined to comment when his secretary called him at home.
George M. Stoddart, Robb's press secretary, said Robb "read it with amusement, just like everyone else. Everybody who doesn't like someone gives them a zero and somebody they like they give a 10. I don't know how accurate it is."
The poll of legislators, reporters, lobbyists and top state officials themselves was conducted by the Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star newspapers of Norfolk. It ranked the officials on a scale of one to 10, and it is the second installment; last week, the poll showed the ranking of all 140 members of the legislature.
Connock's overall score was 8.18. Robb's was 7.53, and Baliles scored 7.63.
Baliles, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, scored well above his rival, Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis of Portsmouth, who placed ninth in the poll, with a 6.43 rating.
Connock is a soft-spoken master of the intricate details of Virginia's two-year budget process, which tracks how $16 billion is spent. A respected "numbers man," Connock served as a low-level tax official and later as director of planning and budget for Republican governor John N. Dalton.
Robb kept Connock when the Democrats took over in 1982, and last year the governor promoted him to secretary of finance.
The lowest ranked of the 22 officials named was Franklin E. White, Robb's secretary of transportation and public safety, who has struggled over the past year with the continuing crisis in the state's prison system. White received an average rating of 5.12, with the legislators ranking him 5.06.
Rounding out the top 10 behind Connock, Baliles and Robb were, in order of rank:
* Secretary of Administration Andrew B. Fogarty (7.35).
* Gordon K. Davis, director of the State Council of Higher Education (7.15).
* S. John Davis, former Fairfax school superintendent, who is now superintendent of the state's education department (6.94).
* John T. Casteen III, Robb's secretary of education (6.56).
* Susan Fitz-Hugh, secretary of the State Elections Board (6.44).
* Lt. Gov. Davis.
* Junie L. Bradshaw, the just-resigned member of the State Corporation Commission (6.32).
Betty J. Diener, Robb's sometimes controversial secretary of commerce, scored 20th in the poll, with a ranking of 5.63.
David A. McCloud, Robb's longtime chief of staff, who oversees the activities of many people rated in the poll, was number 11, with an average score of 6.21. His lowest ranking came from the category "officials," which ranked him 5.23. He got a 6.89 from reporters.
Secretary of Human Resources Joseph L. Fisher, a former 10th District congressman, ranked 16th with 5.79.
Last week's column mentioned that two Northern Virginia Republicans had scored well in a similar poll of state legislators, but it mentioned only Fairfax Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. by name. The other is State Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr. of Alexandria.