In addition to electricians and plumbers, Wetch's clients include the unions representing utility workers, sheet metal fabricators and people employed in the forest products industry.
His success also has won over business clients, including the Assn. of California Insurance Cos., lottery equipment maker GTech Corp. and Diageo, the big alcoholic beverage company. Wetch also has lobbied for developer Ed Roski Jr., who is trying to build a football stadium in Los Angeles County.
Blunt, even intimidating, Wetch makes no apologies for what he calls a "tenacious" lobbying style. "If it's a bad bill," he said, "I'm going to go up and say it's a bad bill."
That attitude helped him persuade lawmakers to kill a 2010 bill that would have let cement, steel and other energy-hungry factories produce some of their own solar or wind power, saving the plants money and allowing them to sell excess power back to the power grid.
Heavy industries and environmentalists backed the measure. But the bill threatened the jobs of IBEW and Utility Workers Union of America members. Wetch denounced the legislation as a "ratepayer subsidy to big polluters."
Barbara Barkovich, a consultant for one of the bill's backers, the California Large Energy Consumers Assn., accused Wetch of misrepresenting the measure. At a Senate energy committee hearing, both sides were told to go out to the hallway and work out a compromise.
Wetch didn't budge, knowing he had the votes.
"He was clearly not interested in trying to work something out," recalled Barkovich. "He had a very negative attitude."
Last year, Wetch employed that same talent when he plunged into a personal fight with the California Nurses Assn. and other unions.
The nurses, along with the California Teachers Assn. and others, opposed legislation that would allow specially trained public school staff members, in an emergency, to administer a suppository drug to a child having an epileptic seizure. They argued that it was unsafe for school principals or bus drivers to get involved when no school nurse was available.
Wetch said he was especially interested in the bill because his 7-year-old daughter suffers from grand mal seizures. He got permission from his labor clients to jump into the fray.
"I figured the bill wasn't going to go anywhere if I didn't get involved," he said.
The nurses were livid. They accused Wetch of using his clients' substantial political influence to lobby for the bill, demonizing the nurses' union in the process.
But the Legislature passed the measure, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law. The bill's author, Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), said Wetch made the difference.
"We might not have experienced this kind of success without him," he said.