24. Nick Hardeman
Nick Hardeman is chief of staff to Senate Leader Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat who earlier served as Assembly speaker – and Hardeman was her top staffer there, too. As with many people on this list, Hardeman is virtually unknown to the general public although he’s been in the Capitol more than 20 years. He is a significant force in the Senate, where he serves as the leader’s eyes and ears on the electeds and their staffs, coordinates messaging and spots political issues and defuses them, if necessary. Bottom line, his core responsibility – similar to the chiefs of staff of all electeds – is to push the boss’s legislative agenda, which takes tact, force and wily cajolery. Over the past few years that has been an increasing challenge, what with climate change, the pandemic and assorted education issues, among the hurdles. But Hardeman, who began his Capitol career as a Senate fellow, can do it all.
Updated August 9, 2022