Well‐resourced and well‐connected individuals, or “policy entrepreneurs,” often play an important role in advocating and securing the adoption of policies. There is a striking lack of inquiry into the ways that social networks shape the ability of these actors to achieve their aims, including the ways in which network ties may channel policy conflict. To address these gaps, we analyze data from an original survey and an original database of policies to assess the success of policy entrepreneurs (PEs) active in a highly contentious arena: municipal policymaking concerning high‐volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in New York. We use text‐mining to collect social network data from local newspaper archives, then use those data to construct municipal HVHF policy networks. Municipal anti‐HVHF PEs appear more successful when they operate in less cohesive networks, act as bridges to relative newcomers to the governance network, and have a larger number of network connections. Pro‐HVHF PEs appear more successful when they can forge high‐value connections to key decision makers. Policy entrepreneurs on both sides of the issue are more successful when they have a greater number of sympathetic coalition partners.