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Question of the Day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 15, 2011

* A deluge started on the blog around 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. This comment was the first of the bunch nominating Kristin Milligan for the Beth Hamilton Golden Horseshoe Award for best House secretary/admin. assistant

Kristin Milligan - for putting up with the throngs of “hangers on” in Skip’s office.

The non-stop crush of people in that office suite is always astounding and more than a little amusing. Yet, Kristin usually handles the chaos with aplomb, which is why they apparently all descended on the blog at once yesterday afternoon. And then there’s this…

Kristin because a) she has to put up with more crap than most and b) the end of session party. Well, ok, mostly because of b.

The work she does every year on that end of session party is enough to win this prize on its own.

* Runner-up is Sally Smith

Sally Smith for the House, although she’s so much more than an administrative assistant. She is one the smartest, hardest working people in this building. Many don’t know her because she’s tied to her chair in Ellis’ office, but this classy lady is the reason that office functions. She’s den mother to the Speaker’s legal staff. She tracks every bill and knows everything that’s going on in this place. She’s priceless.

* In the Senate, the clear winner is Bunny Fourez

How has Bunny not won this award before? She always gets tons of votes because she is so amazingly organized, friendly, and on top of things. Add my vote for Bunny Fourez.

I love Bunny, and, like that commenter, I can’t believe she hasn’t won. This historical tragedy has finally been corrected.

* Runner-up is Selena Gorman

My vote is for The Bulldog Selena Gorman. She has one of the. toughest groups in the capitol to wrangle, the Senate Democrat Legal Review Staff, while also being trusted with highly sensitive material.

* Before I move along to today’s nominations, let me just say that I have never met an administrative assistant who I didn’t like. They put up with a lot of guff at the Capitol, yet they’ve all treated me with such kindness over the years that this is by far the most difficult category for me. I hate to pick the winners because it implies that the rest are somehow losers. They’re most definitely not.

* On to today’s nominations

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

Please nominate in both categories. And, as always, keep in mind that this is more about intensity than numbers. If you don’t explain your nomination, I’ll ignore it - and I mean that. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 1:49 pm:


  2. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    Cinci, what did I say about explaining your votes? C’mon, man.

  3. - LoLoBonA - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 1:57 pm:

    Best IL State Senator - Democrat: Michael Frerichs. Senator Frerichs has shown himself to be a respectful person willing to listen to views different than his own. He takes the time to listen and makes solid judgements based on his constituent’s requests. His leadership during the Health Alliance breakdown was stellar. His office clearly was the leading driver in the distribution of solid information and guidance.
    Best IL State Senator - Republican: John Milner … why is he a Republican anyway?

  4. - Rod Blagojevich's lonely hairbrush - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:03 pm:

    I’m going to go with Senator Dale Righter on the GOP side.
    He is brilliant, hard-working, keeps the majority in check on the floor, and is incredibly well liked in his district. He may need a new haircut, but he’s a fantastic Senator.

    On the Dem side, I’ll go with Sen. John Sullivan. While he’s sided with the Chicago leadership far too much for my taste, he’s a decent guy who represents his district pretty well.

  5. - Long Shot - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:04 pm:

    R: Murphy, a message bulldog who always lands punches. Rarely agree with him, but he makes a pretty compelling case for his party.

    D: Cullerton, for being one of the most progressive guys in the GA he still pushes bills that help his other, non-Chicago members. He calls out the Governor when he should and works behind the scenes when he should. And he’s hilarious.

  6. - Montrose - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:04 pm:

    I concur with LoLoBonA on both nominations:

    Frerichs is very smart, works hard to engage the other side of the isle, very responsive and thoughtful. We need more like him.

    Ditto on Milner. There are too few folks like him left that are not dogmatic, but willing to listen to the facts and *gasp* change their mind when a reasonable argument is presented to him. He understands that good policy is too often hostage to good politics. He will be missed.

  7. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:04 pm:


    Dillard - Able to work across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion, and nudge bills more in line with the Republican caucus. He is the go-to guy for Illinois media when they need to have a comment from the Republican side of the aisle.

    Cullerton - Also will work across the aisle on some bills and can whip his caucus.

  8. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:08 pm:

    GOP - I’m a Dale Righter fan. Not because I agree with him politically (at least on most things), but because he seems to really dig-in at Committee. He’s also very approachable and works his district, which isn’t easy given it’s geographic size.

    DEM - Harmon and Kotowski and two of my favorites. President Cullerton is a good man, and I have A LOT of respect for Donne Trotter.

    But I think this year I have to give my shout out to John Sullivan. Even if his schedule is full, Sullivan has time for anyone. I think that’s best demonstrated by his ability to be an incumbent Democrat in a strong conservative area. But he’s there because he treats his constituents like they are his neighbors. I really hope he survives the new map.

  9. - dave - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:08 pm:

    Althoff - quietly leads, and is always reasonable. Don’t always agree with her, but she is always willing to talk and listen. She’s not interested in putting on a show like some of her counterparts.

    Harmon - no one controls a committee as well as he does, in large part because he also has a great command of the issues in front of him. Few legislators in Springfield have as good of a command of the issues, and there isn’t a legislator that I would rather have carry my bill.

  10. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:13 pm:

    R - Sen. Cultra. Because he proudly displays his legislative plates on his mastadon.

    D - Sen. Lightford. Ah hell to the yeah baby, you know she deserves it.

  11. - unspun - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:13 pm:

    Cullerton. When he wasn’t the President, he handled more bills than anyone, and stood up to leadership when they were out of line. As President, he’s been highly effective at working with the other chamber/Governor, and against them when necessary. He also keeps a very diverse caucus together on the big issues.
    Milner. As a newbie, he quickly built alliances by being approachable, level-headed, and fair minded despite partisan differences. And you can’t beat his loyalty to his family.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    Dem: John Sullivan. I have always found him thoughtful and a good listener and a real asset to leadership.

    Republican: I would go with David Luechtefeld. It’s not only his size that commands attention but fairness and ability to dissect an issue dispassionately and vote intelligently.

  13. - ElMaya - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    Dan Kotowski - Modest enough to drive a Pontiac G6 and smart enough not to name it or tweet about it.

    Larry Bomke - Mustache

  14. - walkinfool - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:15 pm:

    Dem: Kotowski, high energy, focused on peoples’ needs, but also very strong on fiscal issues. We wouldn’t have a new budget process without Kotowski, and he personally sold it to House leadership, and the Governor’s staff, as well.

    GOP: Radogno. Though many love to talk about state fiscal issues for political reasons, Radogno is one of the few who always tells the whole truth.

  15. - BigBlake - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:22 pm:

    I agree with LoLo. Senator Frerichs seemed to have really dug himself (and maybe even his party) out of that huge tax increase nightmare by being a true leader in every sense of the word and fighting for his constituents who were being played like pawns by big insurance. His leadership helped countless people… and hey, isn’t that what government is all about!

  16. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:33 pm:

    For the SDems - Cullerton. To orchestrate the possibility of a Veto-Proof Majority for years and years to come via the map, and have the political crew to finish the job makes Cullerton my choice. Politics ain’t bean bag, and Cullerton has shepparded his caucus, and has ensured, on papaer mind you, will hold the Upper Chamber for the forseeable future. The Senate Democrats are in a better place with Cullerton leading.

    For the SGOP - Milner. In a caucus filled with “seat-fillers” waiting for the next election so they can run OUT of the Illinois Senate, Milner does the work needed. Although the slant of my posts drip with political tones, what makes Milner special is that policy is good or bad first, partisan second. That should be honored.

  17. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    Dillard - a voice of reason in the symphony of sound that is the Sen Repub caucus.
    Frerichs - honest, smart and very funny - yes funny once you break the shell.

  18. - anon - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:39 pm:

    Harmon: Smart, patient, pragmatic. He is the go-to guy on just about everytning that is complicated. A very good listener who is unassuming. No Senator better engages and respects staff.

    Righter: Smart, articulate, team player. He plays the role of minority floor leader very well, and respects both the chamber and his colleagues.

  19. - anon - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:44 pm:

    Senate Repub - Kirk Dillard. Works across the aisle well. In these times, that’s what needed.

    Hat tip to John Millner. A suburban republican with good sense and I agree with the prior poster, puts policy first.

    Senate Dem - Kim Lightford. Girl gets stuff done. Period. And the way she’s been able to navigate the negotiating table, first with pay-day-loans, and then with ed reform, is top notch. She’s turned herself into a serious player under the dome.

    Honorable mention to Kwame Raoul. Handles big issues for the caucus and seemingly does so with ease.

  20. - Ahoy - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:49 pm:

    Democrat: John Sullivan - He is often the voice of reason in an often insane caucus. He is pragmatic and can work with Republicans as well as his own party. He has a lot of good ideas and could probably broker a deal between the more reasonable Senate Democrats and a portion of the more reasonable Senate Republicans if the Senate Republicans would work with the other side of the aisle.

    Republican: I don’ think any of them have had a good year, probably starting off with the press conference to nowhere… you know the one that outlined a budget proposal that they never proposed. I’ll vote for Bomke because of the mustache, but overall it was a horrible year for this group.

  21. - Pleading the Fifth - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 2:50 pm:

    Dems: Don Harmon - He has great command of the issues in front of him and is always willing to listen to your side of the story before making a decision on what is best for his constituents.

    Republicans: John Millner - He goes above and beyond what is required of his position. While many are in it for the sound bite, he prefers to to do his job, cross the aisle, if necessary, and fully understand the issue before making a final decision. In his spare time, he volunteers to drive trucks for Northern Illinois Food Bank, not for the photo op, but because he truly believes in the cause. He will be truly missed in the Senate.

  22. - thewinner - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:04 pm:

    SDems: Senator Michael Frerichs- he tackles problems head on and is not afraid to face the reality of a situation. His work for his constituency and for Central Illinois with the Health Alliance/Health Insurance issue makes me respect him even more. I would not be surprised if he runs for statewide office some day- he sure would have my vote!

    SRepubs: Does Bariackman count (maybe next year)? My vote is for Sen. Milner for being able to reach across the isle and work with the “other side.”

  23. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:15 pm:

    SGOP: Tim Bivins. Smart, understands that not every issue has to be turned into crises and a knock down drag out. Willing to hear both sides of the issues and does call a presser everytime he has thought.

    SDEMS: Don Harmon, not afraid to handle some of the heavy lifting bills that don’t lend themselves to Blue Room events.

  24. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:26 pm:

    Sorry, that line for Bivins should have said “does not call a presser everytime he has a thought”.

    I will now proceed to flog myself for the error.

  25. - MiddeOfTheRoad - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:28 pm:

    SDems: Sen Frerichs. He’s young, smart, ambitious and has a bright future ahead of him. He’s figured out a way to stay in Cullterton’s favor without turning into his lapdog. He gets things does for his district and all of downstate without bowing down to Chicago on every issue.

    SReps: Sen. Milner. He’s one of the few SReps who’s figured out he has a better shot a getting things done by actually working with the other side of the aisle rather than complaining about them all of the time.

  26. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:33 pm:

    Dem: Lightford, the Ed Reform mess got tossed in her lap last January. She made all sides sit down and work out an agreed bill that passed with bipartisan support. No easy task.

    Repub: I would love to nominate someone, but I just haven’t seen much from that side. If this were a year ago, I would nominate Dan Rutherford for his speech in support of the civil unions bill. (He was a Sen for a few days in Jan.)

  27. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:36 pm:

    SDems - Kim Lightford. Great at the negotiating table. The education reform bill she passed this year is a testament to her “stick to it” attitude and her ability to get all the stakeholders on an issue together to hash out their disagreements. When the process began, nobody thought that she could craft an agreed bill, and she did it. She deserves the award.

    SGOP: John Millner. He has the ability to work with anyone. His expertise on criminal law bills has been utilized on a number of bills, even when he isn’t the sponsor. Just a stand up guy.

  28. - JL - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:36 pm:

    Dem: Kotowski, his drive and competency are second to none. The way he is working to not only curb spending but change the way we budget is truly remarkable and commendable. Not to mention he is a prince of a guy and a fellow Rambler.

    Pam Althoff, many of the same reasons as above in terms of spending reform. Also willing to work across the aisle.

  29. - Soooo... - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:37 pm:

    Definitely Toi Hutchinson on the Democratic side. The hard work she put in, especially during veto session should not go unnoticed. She is incredibly smart, kind and can relate to absolutely anyone!

    On the Republican side, Pamela Althoff hands down. She works well with both sides, is intelligent, and a great lady all around.

  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 3:46 pm:

    D: Lightford for her effective leadership on the controversial school reform bill.

    R: Millner for being less partisan than his caucus, more open-minded, and willing to think for himself on some issues rather than automatically voting with the GOP pack.

  31. - Easy - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:05 pm:

    GOP: matt murphy. empty podiums tremble with fear when Murphy is near. No one crashes press conferences with more vigor and intensity.

    DEM: toi hutchison. measured and responsible.

  32. - Rayne of Terror - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:08 pm:

    I’m so glad for Sally. I vote for her every year and I’m glad the rest of the building has taken notice or now will take notice of her.

    Sen. Righter. I don’t agree with him on anything, but he represents his district well and is quite bright and actually knows his bills.

    Sen. Haine. A total gentleman.

  33. - WizzardOfOzzie - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:13 pm:


    Kotowski. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. He really is everything you could ask for in a public servant: Hard working, competent, and willing to take tough votes (voting for a tax increase while representing Park Ridge territory hostile to Dems).

    He is friendly and kind, but can also be tough.
    It also cracks me up when he refers to kids on the floor as “Nate the Great” and “Super Cooper”. Genuinely a fantastic human being.

    Senate Dems are the most talented caucus under the Dome by far. Senators Harmon, Steans, Munoz, Koehler, Hutchinson, and Trotter are all terrific.


    Altoff. Easy to work with. Smart and dedicated. Is always on top the issues she advocates for.

    Millner, Dillard, and Righter are runners up.

  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:18 pm:

    Cullerton - Because he uses his smarts and his power to accomplish things he actually cares about, not (just) things a powerful interest group or pal lobster cares about. (Contrasting with Madigan, who I admire, but who uses his smarts and power to accomplish only one thing - retain a majority.)

    Righter - For similar reasons. Smart and uses it more than most to advance things he actually cares about, regardless of whether they will win him “points” with anyone.

  35. - Just Sayin' - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:22 pm:

    Dem: Dave Koehler. He is hard-working, passionate, sincere, credible, a gentleman, and has tons of integrity.
    Rep: Kirk Dillard. Smart and a good guy although I rarely agree with him.

  36. - soccermom - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:36 pm:

    Is it too late to add a category? I think it would be nice to end the year with an award for Best Party. (The Democrats!)

    Actually, I was thinking the best annual party/event, including fundraisers, receptions, and awards ceremonies…

  37. - Man of the people - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:40 pm:

    SRepubs: Althoff. She really seems to care about the people she represents and is the epitome of class in the way she treats people. She is respectful, bright, and principled.

    SDems: Lightford. Her work on education reform demonstrates how the process can work when partisan politics and bickering are put aside in favor of enacting good public policy. She did an incredible job this year.

    We could really use more people like these two women in the General Assembly right now.

  38. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:43 pm:

    ===end the year with an award for Best Party.===

    The best party is always the end of session party, for lots of reasons. So, I don’t think we need a contest.

  39. - Watching - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 4:59 pm:

    I’m going to assume there will be a leaders category, so instead of Cullerton I’ll go with Sullivan. Always willing to ask the questions others are afraid to (but are appreciative that he did) he then does what he believes is right and works to convince (and often successfully) the residents of his district.

    I can’t believe no one has nominated McCarter, Duffy or McCann. Any of the three of them should be given credit for taking an unofficial leadership role in their caucus and steering their own course.

  40. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 5:38 pm:

    I am a fan of Senator Haine. He is very personable, obviously knows the nuances of the law and has a sharp and able staff.

    Senator John O. Jones has been one of favorites for a long time. You cannot find a more down-to-earth elected official than John O.

  41. - HiredGun - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 6:24 pm:

    Dems: John Sullivan, hands down. Any man who is willing to tackle some of the real problems facing our state (bill backlog, paying ROEs after Quinn’s debacle, etc.) by not only supporting solutions , but leading on those issues tIme and again, deserves our respect. Then, when you learn he does all this with the kind of district he has… Yeesh, he deserves a medal. Especially on bonding–he is going to catch hell in his district for it, but he did it anyway…because its the right thing to do. We could use a few more with this kind of courage.

    GOP: It’s gotta be Murphy. I usually disagree with everything he says, but damnit if he doesn’t say it so well! And at the end of the day, he’s got a sense of humor, and who doesn’t love that?

  42. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 7:52 pm:

    Dems: I’m going with Frerichs. Smart and on target. We need guys like this. Cross your fingers he stays this way.

    GOP: Luechtefeld I’m always proud of him. He once told me in a parking lot conversation, “Politics is a phony business, I just try to do the right thing.”

  43. - Joe Bethersonton - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 10:36 pm:

    Republican: John Millner - Well respected on both sides of the aisle, works in a bipartisan manner to get things done (a rarity these days). Also sincerely a very nice guy.

    Democrat: Mike Frerichs - Very smart, but doesn’t flaunt it. In a chamber filled with its share of blowhards, he stands out as a thoughtful, quietly effective legislator. Represents his district well as a strong advocate for the University of Illinois and as Chair of the Ag Committee.

  44. - jala - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 10:38 pm:

    Dem.-Mike Frerichs. He’s honest, a hard worker, very intelligent and a great family man. Very popular, even with the GOP!

  45. - Long Time Listener - Thursday, Dec 15, 11 @ 10:49 pm:

    On the Dem side, I’m torn between Senator Wilhelmi and Senator Harmon. Both run their committees very well and are very bright and engaging. They don’t always agree with me (I’ve been debating Harmon for years) but they always listen. I thunk Harmon has won this a few times so I will go with AJ. A bright, thoughtful, rising star in the Senate Democratic caucus. He deserves a nod here.

    On the Senate R side, I have to go with Matt Murphy. He’s smart, funny and a Bear fan who knows how to tailgate!

  46. - Dix 56 - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 9:50 am:

    State Senator Michael Frerichs is my winner. He is always willing to go the extra mile to help everyone, truly listens and isn’t afraid to take a stand in what he believes.

  47. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 10:09 am:

    Dem: Kwame Raoul for leading the charge on abolishing the death penalty. Illinois’ broken death penalty system, with its legion of innocents awaiting a state-sanctioned appointment with the Grim Reaper, was an affront to 21st Century humanity. Splendid behavior by Raoul in insisting on justice and reason in this era of anger.

    GOP: Radogno, for even trying to ride herd on a caucus composed of future governors who can’t stop admiring themselves in the mirror.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* USD hires consultant to help search for new football coach
* The Latest: Paris extends ban on protests in Le Bourget
* Taraji P. Henson lends hand to Keys' HIV & AIDS charity
* Latest: Chicago mayor to create police accountability panel

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Tightening L-1 Rules in Grassley/Durbin Bi......
* Legislation proposed to reform H-1B and L-......

* Syrian Refugees Become Issue in Illinois S......
* Syrian refugees become issue in Illinois S......
* Syrian refugees become issue in Illinois S......

* Black Friday on North Michigan Avenue.
* Sixty years ago today.
* REEDER: Thanks to young freelance reporter, Chicagoans now know about Laquan McDonald
* Burke, Lampkin unopposed for Appellate Court; three unopposed for countywide Circuit Court vacancies
* Random thoughts.
* Education of the Handicapped Act is threatened by ESEA’s inclusion of Pay for Success.
* Paying for incarceration? What stops demands for better accommodations?
* Maryville Vote Took Place Tonight, Results Tomorrow
* Chicago Winter Overnight Parking Ban Starts Tonight
* Officer In Laquan McDonald Shooting Released After Posting $1.5 Million Bail

* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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