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Question of the Day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 16, 2011

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for best Illinois State Senator - Republican goes to Sen. John Millner

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.

Millner is one of the best legislators in the building. He’s intellectually honest and pragmatic, which are always big plusses in my book. Plus, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

* Runner-up is Sen. Matt Murphy

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

Murphy is one of those guys who can ably fight the good fight on the Senate floor and then socialize with the other side when he’s “off duty.” Over the years, legislators have seemed to separate themselves both day and night. Murphy is one of the few remaining who understands that building relationships with all his colleagues is important to the process.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for best Illinois State Senator - Democrat was a tough one. There were lots of very strong nominations. But I went with Sen. John Sullivan because he’s done some things that could hurt him politically, but were still the right things to do…

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.


* Runner-up is Sen. Kimberly 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.

That reform bill was really quite something. Lightford ran some of the best negotiating sessions that many people had ever attended. If she sticks to what she knows, she’ll be a true star.

* OK, on to today’s categories

* Best Illinois State Representative - Republican

* Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat

For the umpteenth time, make sure to fully explain your nomination. No explanation means I won’t count your vote. This is about intensity far more than numbers. And let’s leave the two top dogs out of the competition. This should be about the rank and file, not their two overlords. Also, please make sure to nominate in both categories. Thanks much and have at it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat

    Linda Chapa-LaVia even though I am with the local GOP she has always been helpful. When I go down with the gifted ed folks she always spends a lot of time with the kids, answering their questions. She also seems to understand her district fairly well. Finally she does not seem beholden to the local Democratic party structure and is willing to stand on her own even when it is not politically expedient.

    If I have to gave a Democratic state rep I am glad it is her.

  2. - eddy - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:22 am:

    Republican: Representative Skip Saviano. There is no question just how hard this man works for his consituents, his support for business and labor groups. He participates in negotiations and gets things done. Tell me who, in the Capitol and in this state does not go to Skip for any type of problem or issue? He’s one of the most selfless humans on the planet.

    Democrat: Representative Lisa Dugan. I’ve personally witnessed her mediating and problem-solving skill these past few years. She studies a groups’ concerns, learns the issue inside and out, and works non-stop to find a compromise and a solution. She is going to be greatly missed in the General Assembly.

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:25 am:

    D– John Bradley. Risen in the ranks and in the estimation of colleagues and those who work with him on dicey issues. Smart, direct, almost scary in ability to stay focused.

    R– Roger Eddy. Has stepped up as floor spokesman. I believe works well with both parties. Very bright and very fair any time I have worked with him.

  4. - Cook County - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:27 am:

    Best Rep (R) - Skip Saviano.. Skip works both sides better then anyone down here. He loves his job and is very good to his Constituents and District.

    Best Rep (D) BFC…. Being is leadership carries a burden. She is given a task of pushing legislation that she may not agree with but has to. She can debate that a pig is a dog and win every time.

  5. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:31 am:

    Republican: Skip Saviano - Best cook in the legislature and a good guy to tip a few with.

    Democrat: HRH Michael J. Madigan - Who wields the sword better than him?

  6. - Fun stuff - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    D - John Bradley. Incredibly intelligent, hyper focused, and a charmer to boot. He may not be beloved by all of his colleagues, but he’s shepherded some absolutely huge issues over the years and has become the go to guy for serious discourse. Plus, that Clinton impersonation - hoo boy.

    R - I think this should be posthumously awarded to Mark Beaubien. Smart, crafty and one of the finest people you will ever meet.

  7. - k3_Spfld_Chi - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    Republican: New(sort of) Rep David Harris. He worked his tail off on the CME deal and got the shaft for it.

    Democrat: Rep L. Ford. He is also new but he has been empowering his constituents with work and business development that has brought him to politics and prosperity.

  8. - matt - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    Skip Saviano is the best on the GOP side. He is always willing to be the go to guy for everyone when controversial licensing issues arise. Not many other legislators would actually call all parties in to work on an agreement, especially if they are not the chief sponsor.

    On the Dem side I’m going to go with Lisa Dugan. She always fights for what she believes in. Too bad IL is again losing one of the good ones!

  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    Rep. GOP - Beaubien. In reality, this award would go to Mark Beaubien. His service to his district, his caucus and his state make this a deserving nomination. Many times we all say someone can not be replaced. This is one of the rare occasions that it’s too true.

    Rep. Democrat - Lyons. When Joe Lyons said he was retiring, both sides equally were saying how much Joe Lyons would be missed. Joe Lyons, as he has reminded a few while in the chair, is not retired yet, but He brings/brought what was best in him to the Illinois House and that, at times, brought the best out in others.

  10. - reformer - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    D: McCarthy, for taking the lead on pension reform and other serious bills, even when it enrages the Democratic special interests
    R: Mathias, for passing the most bills, year and and year out, and for his thoughtful and courteous manner that wins him universal respect in his chamber.

  11. - Babybyrd - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:46 am:

    For Democratic- I would definitely go with John Bradley. He chairs two of the most powerful committees- Revenue and Labor and has put together major deals over the past years- Workers Comp- Med/Mal Reform and more recently the Sears/ CME bill without forgetting what district he represents. He also stole the show this year at COWL.

    For Republican- Michael McAuliffe. He’s continued to make his own decisions on tough votes they the years, treats everyone the same and is a favorite of his colleagues, staff and lobbyists.

    Both men deserve the nod.

  12. - PQ's Primary Opponent - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    DEM: The Speaker, everyone else is just taking up space in the mushroom bin
    REP: Skip, he does all of Leader Cross’s dirty work keeping the HREP caucus from disintegrating..

  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    ===DEM: The Speaker===

    I asked that you please not nominate the two leaders. Thanks for listening. lol

  14. - Fun stuff - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 12:07 pm:

    Actually, maybe you should make it the “Mark Beaubien Horseshoe for Best Republican Representative”

    Now that’d be an honor.

  15. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 12:12 pm:


    I was unaware there were other Dems than His Highness. I thought the rest were just moving hands that push vote buttons, designed by Wolowitz.

  16. - Dirty Red - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 12:12 pm:

    GOP - I agree with Willy. Beaubien would be the shoe-in. But if you aren’t doing post-humorous awards, then I would say Skip for busting his butt and being so approachable or Bob Pritchard for not alway going with the causcus on purely political votes. That is hard to do and has earned him respect on the other side of the aisle.

    DEM - Brandon Phelps. Nobody works harder for their constiuents than Brandon. He was the man earlier this year when the floods rocked his district. He skipped grip and grins to be where the action was. He was even civil enough to not lash out at the Governor for being on the ground for a presser and then jetting back to Chicago. Phelps all the way.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    Fun Stuff … I like the thought … Rich’s call.

    I will let my nomination sit along with yours for this year.

  18. - KGB - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 12:39 pm:

    Republican: Skip Saviano. Saavy, works both sides, knows how to get things done. Best office in the Capitol. Best house parties. Best legislator who can cook.

    Democrat: Karen Yarbrough. Often overlooked but one of the best at passing tough legislation. Smoke Free Illinois. Abolition of Death Penalty. Vacant Property legislation taking on banks. In leadership.

  19. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:00 pm:

    Dem: Frank Mautino. When you need to get something done and you want a guy smart enough to get it and hard working enough to work through institutional obstacles, Frank’s your guy.

    R: Sure, I’ll go with the crowd and say Skip. Just because he throws the best party.

  20. - Dirt Diver - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:03 pm:

    HDEM - Frank Mautino. He’s pragmatic, reasonable, realistic, humble, and just a genuinely good person. He’s just about the most grounded legislator there is, I wish he was my State Representative.

    HGOP - Although I seldom agree with the man policy wise, my vote has to go to Jim Durkin. He’s knows his stuff, can’t trip him up, and I just plain respect the man.

  21. - El tercero - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:07 pm:

    Rep. Arroyo is my pick. He’s the only latino caucus member that is effective in bringing $$$ back to his district and helping Latinos get promoted in state jobs. That is a hard task to accomPlish with this governor’s staff.

  22. - Jerry - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:32 pm:

    R - Skip Saviano - he’s the most respected on both sides; his relationships allow him to be extraordinarily effective — he’s even made friends with our new mayor! he also has the best casting couch at the capitol…

    D - Lisa Dugan - she takes her job very seriously and it’s clear she respects her position to represent her district.

  23. - Jerry - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:34 pm:

    Shoot, Jerry must take back my above D nomination. I forgot about Brandon Phelps. He’s THE BEST. He’s hard-working, passionate, devoted, and give 10000% to his job. Sorry, Lisa but Brandon is hands-down the best D.

  24. - walkinfool - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    Dem: Nekritz: smart, honest, and extremely effective at building coalitions, and resisting or improving the Speaker’s positions. She is the rare politician who attacks big problems without taking credit for what she accomplishes. She was the primary mover for the House to create the spending ceiling that Ilinois now has, and was the only Dem in recent years to vote against the Speaker’s rules.

    GOP: Ed Sulliivan, who is firm in his positions, but goes out of his way to help others from both sides of the aisle, to achieve their own goals.

  25. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    Dem: Elaine Nekritz. She voted against the speaker’s rules and continues to live to tell about it. She’s kind of like the anti-Jack Franks in every good way.

    GOP: Rosemary Mulligan. Who knew a devotion to human service appropriations would become en vogue? Once you adjust the volume and treble, she’s got a lot of important stuff to say.

  26. - persnickety - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 1:47 pm:

    R - Michael McAuliffe - Mike is sincere, always has time to listen, meets and greets his constituents by name on the street, and most importantly takes his work seriously.

    D - Frank Mautino - stand up guy, diligent, understands what his constituents are saying.

  27. - Just Me - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 2:07 pm:

    Democrat: Greg Harris. He doesn’t get too involved in “us” versus “them” and knows teamwork is required to get anything difficult accomplished. The way he handled the civil union bill is a perfect example of cutting with a scalpel instead of a powersaw when it comes to legislating.

    Republican: Mark Beabien, may he rest in peace, for his willingness to get his hands dirty in big issues and do some heavy lifting, but not be media and attention-hungry.

    The General Assembly, and I dare say the State of Illinois, would be much better if more legislators followed their example of how to legislate.

  28. - Sine Die - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 2:23 pm:

    Best GOP: Roger Eddy, really has a great understanding of the process. Should really be the GOP leader..

    Best DEM: Joe Lyons-Is there anyone better in the Chair? Tough, fair negotiator. Very approachable yet can yield power when needed. A true statesman!

  29. - Four Red Stars - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 2:46 pm:

    D - Lyons - On top of being one of the nicest guys in the Capitol, he’s one of the best when he’s in the chair. He exercises fairness and control during heated debates, but brings out that sense of humor when it’s needed. It seems like the entire chamber is in a better mood when Joe starts the day in the chair. Plus, he’s a White Sox fan.

    R - Sacia - Even though I typically don’t agree with what he says, I sometimes find myself agreeing with Jim simply because of his booming radio voice and the conviction he has when he speaks. And, he’s a great individual who will take time to talk with you.

  30. - archibald.jones - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:08 pm:

    Dem. Elaine Nekritz. Echoing walkinfool, she’s whip smart, diplomatic, and effectively iconoclast.

    Rep. Mike Tryon. He’s active, tackles relevant issues, and is a strong voice for his constituents.

  31. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:09 pm:

    D: Will Davis, very articulate when explaining his positions and is always advocating for his district.

    R: Ed Sullivan, has taken on the tough assignments for the HGOP and is not afraid to go against the conservative grain for what he believes. (Anti-Death Penalty, EITC)

  32. - The Drasil - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:14 pm:

    Dem: John Bradley has proven time and time again that he is THE rising star in the Illinois House. This year alone he has transformed the broken Worker’s Comp system as well as beefed up the corporate tax structure. In addition to being the Chairman of Revenue and Labor, he is an outstanding legislator, father, and friend.

    Rep: David Harris is the bright spot for the Republicans. He worked with Bradley to get the tax bill done and has had his hand in some of the years best legislation.

  33. - thewinner - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:20 pm:


    John Bradley is the man! It is rare for an elected official to be a good politician as well as a good legislator. He is able to raise a lot of money for his campaigns and others- as well as take care of his constituents at the same time.

    As easy as that sounds… you would be surprised at how many of them fail at one of the other.


    Rep Bariackman is cares about his constituents and will make a great Senator in 2012.

  34. - Dirty Red - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:34 pm:

    We’d also be doing a terrible injustice if we did not also consider Patti Bellock. Talk about someone who digs deeps. I can’t remember who said it during veto, but they were right: No one knows pensions like Patti Bellock.

  35. - walkinfool - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 3:49 pm:

    @michelle flaherty: you’re right about Rosemary Mulligan — she was my first choice for real heart — but the noise distracts.

  36. - southernillinois - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 4:06 pm:

    Best GOP-Jim Watson. He holds true to what he believes and works like a dog for the people in his district….and never gets mad at constuients who dont agree with him.
    Best Dem-Mary Flowers….she has such a heart for the underdog and is the one person who over and over again speaks out for people who are poor.

  37. - wearemarshall - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 4:21 pm:

    Best GOP — Rep . Morthland: aggressive freshman, spearheaded the 10% pay cut legislation that democrats shut down then co-opted.

    Best DEM — Elaine Nekritz: anyone who votes against the Speaker’s rules has got some, err, balls…

  38. - Allow for all - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 4:36 pm:

    I am going to go for the double Harris. They both worked endlessly to get different great bills passed. I don’t think they voted for the other’s bills and are near polar opposites but both are great statesman and that is what these awards are all about.

  39. - Bert - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 6:23 pm:

    Brandon Phelps is my vote cause his hard work speaks for itself, having the largest district is def a full time job!! He is always upbeat and cordial! So Mr. Phelps has my vote!!! On the other side it has to be Skip Saviano, he does a lot for both sides of the aisle and is a true statesman!! So there u have it everyone have a merry Christmas!!!!

  40. - Decaturguy - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 6:26 pm:

    Dem: Joe Lyons. A real gentleman.

    GOP: Jim Watson. Smart, fair, and a real patriot. Too few of those in public life.

  41. - A.B. - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 6:37 pm:

    Rep- Ed Sullivan. Partisan but comfortable crossing the aisle to logically discuss matters. Understands district realities and their impact on voting allowing divisions to not be personal.

    Dem- Madigan. The iron grip is amazing.

  42. - Toni - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 6:39 pm:

    My vote is Brandon Phelps and that’s all I gotta say!!!

  43. - Politicolio - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 7:30 pm:

    GOP - Jim Watson. Solid guy with a good record of bipartisanship. Always returns calls and answers even my silly questions.

    Dem - Mautino. Honest, upfront, hardworking. Hard not to like the guy.

  44. - Rick - Friday, Dec 16, 11 @ 7:59 pm:

    Skip saviano on the repub side jus because he really cares about people and I’m all about people!! On the dem side Brandon Phelps I like his values!!

  45. - Santa's Helper - Saturday, Dec 17, 11 @ 9:51 am:

    R: Skip Saviano
    D: John D’Amico

  46. - Snow - Saturday, Dec 17, 11 @ 9:56 am:

    GOP- Skip, great on Reg and Reg issues,huge supporter of police and fire, great cook, great office staff, and takes care of his residents.

    Dem- Lisa Dugan she works hard for her residents and will be missed by us.

  47. - Jon Zahm - Saturday, Dec 17, 11 @ 4:25 pm:

    Republican- Mike Fortner. Brilliant mind. Reads and researches everything. Always takes time to talk to anyone and keeps his campaign promises. Has won national awards for his work on drawing fair redistricting mapa.
    Democrat-Brandon Phelps- Represents his conservative district well. Hard worker.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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