Capitol Weekly’s Top 100: Nick Hardeman

Illustration by Chris Shary for Capitol Weekly

23. 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 for more than 20 years. 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. 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. Note that while the Democratic Caucus in the Assembly has been rife with drama the past year, the Senate’s Dem contingent appears to be sailing smoothly, and Hardeman deserves some of the credit for that. More than one capitol insider calls him the best chief in the building.

Updated August 15, 2023

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