This article will outline the politics and pathways of promotion among government officials working in a rural county in Anhui province and their attitudes towards elite status. It will analyze the implications these processes and pathways have for the operation of local government in rural China. Drawing on interviews and relationships spanning a ten-year period (2004-2013), this article primarily relies upon the personal experiences of colleagues and friends who have attempted to rise through the ranks of government and business in Benghai County, with varying degrees of success. While the article will focus on political elites, in Benghai it is impossible to separate business from politics. This article will delineate strategies adopted for career advancement and attaining elite political status, and the effects these strategies have on the relationship between political elites and ordinary cadres.