PERSPECTIVE: The 'hardline' on Hardwick's move 'left'

"Life on the left will be eerily reminiscent of life on the right"

Tim Wenger
December 18, 2018 - 10:40 pm

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Tuesday’s seemingly dramatic and publicity-mongering decision by Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick to realign from the Republican caucus to the Democratic caucus in the legislative body is just a fresh reminder that politicians, in general, live life like sewer rats. 

After decades of calling himself a Republican, Hardwick told me in a meeting Monday he would be making some news as he hopped off the GOP train to hitch a ride on the Democratic track.  He’ll explain it’s because the Republican Party lost its way from the days of Ronald Reagan and no longer represents the core it once stood for.  He’ll tell you he’s tiring of the arm-twisting by the party bosses and threats to not try to moderate in the middle. 

And he may be ‘spot on’ in those assessments.  But if he thinks it will be any different by aligning with the Democrats, I think he’s setting himself up for disappointment.

During my decades of armchair watching of local politics here in Erie County and Western New York, one thing is a steady.  Nobody does something for nothing.  There’s always a payoff.  It may not be obvious now, but down the road we’ll be able to look back and say, ah hah!

Nick Langworthy, current keeper of the GOP flame in Erie County, was seemingly ok with Kevin Hardwick as a Republican, until he hinted he may jump ship.  Now, to Langworthy, Hardwick is nothing more than road kill along the right lane.

And Jeremy Zellner is over at the Democratic party headquarters holding out his hand and welcoming Hardwick as he merges left and revels in Hardwick’s sudden realization that the Democratic Party is more his speed.

While these politicians spend all their time driving in the left or right lane, most of us are cruising down the center lane and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Hardwick will say he’s been promised nothing in the legislature.  No leadership post or committee assignments.  But what about something outside the legislature?  Should we all act surprised when Hardwick suddenly is mentioned for a plum Democratic statewide office that may become available down the road?  For a largely hyper-local politician, a fatter statewide salary would be a great way to line-up a sweeter retirement that’s inevitable. Time will tell.

RELATEDFallout from Hardwick's decision to split from GOP

Kevin has been a good soldier on WBEN, hosting a very successful political program and I respect that work a lot.  I also know that Hardline is bigger than any one host and will continue to be an agenda-setter for local politics with a new host(more about that soon!).  And, for the record, my meeting with Hardwick was set prior to his public decision and was a mutually-agreed upon decision to end his hosting as he would be an active candidate for re-election in 2019.

But Kevin Hardwick the politician is now living in the sewer of politics he exposed for so many years on the radio show and teaches about in his political science classes at Canisius College.

It’s sad too, that this is what local politics is all about.  The political soap opera that dominates the Erie County Legislature actually supersedes any real impact the largely symbolic body has on our lives in Western New York.

To me, the saddest part is that Hardwick thinks the answer to his troubles on the right is over on the left.  And I think the rest of us know that the zealots on the left and right are equally toxic and we all stand somewhere in between and say, “hey, what about us?”.

I’ll miss Kevin on Hardline.  But I think he’ll miss holding court on the radio more and more as he discovers life on the left will be eerily reminiscent of life on the right.

 

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