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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012

* The Golden Horseshoe for Best Non-political Senate Staffer award goes to Giovanni Randazzo

It doesn’t matter what the issue is, the guy’s got the answer. And if you ever ask a technical question of someone else, the answer is often “Well,…but confirm that with Gio.” He’s a veteran to the business and a man who loves what he does.

Agreed. I love the guy.

* Runner-up is Kim Schultz

Kim Schultz of the Senate Dems is one the kindest, most decent people I’ve met around the statehouse. Not only that, she really knows her stuff and really busted her tail this session working on Medicaid reform. Some of those Medicaid meetings were long and frustrating, but she never complains, but stays on task and continues to do her job very well.

* In the House, I’d like to give a special shout-out to John Lowder, who is leaving his job as approp director. He’s an all-time favorite and this award really should be named after him for all the hard work he’s put in over the years.

Best non-political House staffer is Samantha Olds

She manages some of the largest state agency budgets - DHS - HFS during a very hard time for those agencies and the clients they serve. Perhaps more timely, however, is her work on Medicaid reform. Any organization or individual that caught a glimpse of how complex the negotiations were on Medicaid reform had to appreciate the enormous time sink and the numerous interest groups that intersect on the program.

* Runner-up goes to Tyler Hunt

What can I say, he is the driving force behind the house research staff. He has brainstormed more ideas for legislation than anyone under the dome. He is a critical thinker, a team player, and an amazing human being. He volunteers regularly for Big Brother Big Sister, and is always encouraging others on staff to volunteer as well. He needs no motivation, he already has the drive within himself, but he is constantly motivating and cheering others on. He is the quiet under-recognized staffer that deserves to win this year.

* OK, let’s move on to today’s categories…

* Best campaign staffer - Senate Democrats

* Best campaign staffer - Senate Republicans

As always, this is about intensity, not about the number of votes. If you don’t explain your vote, it simply won’t count.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


39 Comments
  1. - The Captain - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 1:11 pm:

    Well on the Democratic side if you’ve got to pick between the Murphia it would be a close call but I’d take Magen over Brendan simply because she works a bar tab better. And Magen drew the map, but that is substantially less important.


  2. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    If I may ask, where is lowder going?


  3. - Ratatouille - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    Brendan O’Sullivan is without a doubt the clear choice this year. 40 seats? I mean, seriously, 40 seats? That should be enough for a plaque or something. But there’s much, much more to Brendan than just results. He is one of the most straight-forward, decent and genuine people in this business. He kept a level head while doing yeoman’s work this cycle picking up where Rowell left off, and improving on it. Knocking out Pankau could be groundbreaking for Ds in DuPage county, and the Jacobs win was only possible because of the strategy he put in place from day one (should be noted he immediately left Justice Theis’ campaign to run the SDems, and the organization was in tatters when he showed up following Rowell’s departure).

    Senate Rs - Cudney did the best he could with the hand he was dealt by Radogno, the ILGOP and Andrzejewski’s folks. Tough to win when everyone wants your boss’ job and marching to their own drummer, but he made the SDems spend some money they probably didn’t need to. Losing to Jacobs is close to unforgivable, though.


  4. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 1:34 pm:

    Best campaign staffer - Senate Republicans

    A Bye this year?


  5. - Dizzy Cow - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    Cincinnatus - Agreed


  6. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    Another Madigan sweep in the House…good work we are sure this will lead to a lucrative holiday bonus….
    Now in the House of Lords, the obvious choice for the Ds must be John Patterson on his virginal trip into politics wins the largest majority in the recorded history of mankind.
    Best Senate GOP? Lets give it to Saviano so he can have one win in 2012!


  7. - Rogue Tooth - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    My vote is for Rachel Campbell for the Senate Democrats. Not only did she bring home a win for Sullivan, she launched a successful campaign just days after tying the knot. Who else would postpone a honeymoon to ensure that Sullivan held on to his seat? That’s laser focus folks, she’s like a Kimber pistol locked in on the target. She’s hard-working, intelligent and always has a smile on her face. I don’t think you could ask for anything more in a campaign staffer. Honorable mention to her husband Steve Campbell (Haine’s campaign manager) for delaying the honeymoon as well. Haine’s opponent didn’t have a chance with Steve at the helm.

     

    Best Senate Republican staffer goes to whoever was running Pankau’s campaign. Keeping the race competitive and suppressing the Obama bump to under 3 points was impressive. DuPage County could have been a whole lot worse.


  8. - Way South of I-80 - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    For the Senate Dems - Sam Strain ran a great campaign for Andy Manar. He had a very tough district and nearly all of his staff was new to campaign work. He worked tirelessly and never got upset or ruffled. He’s a hard worker, pleasant, smart, and a great strategist.


  9. - swag - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 3:30 pm:

    Senate D’s- Sam Strain, Campaign Manager for Andy Manar, deserves the win. Not only did he work tirelessly from the start of Andy’s campaign and bring home a win for the Senate Dems (without taking time off to go visit his family or take a breather from rough campaign life), he did it with a great attitude.

    I don’t know anyone else who worked as hard as he did to pull off a seamless campaign without major “boo-boo’s” and faulty press releases. Everyone knows Andy Manar’s race was the number one target for Christine Radogno. And no offense to Manar but even he has to admit managing a race for a candidate with Andy’s background in campaigning, is much harder than managing any “normal” first time candidate. Overall it was a great well run campaign – great field campaign, regular e-blasts, good looking mailers, and amazing fundraising levels. Strain was on top of it and anyone who denies it, is not giving due credit, where it is deserved.

    Senate R’s- Ryan Cudney, he did a great job with candidate recruitment. He was played a lousy hand and the lack of coordination within the Republican Party, with numerous governor candidates stomping around, was not due to his shortcomings. He did what he could, obviously it was not enough but if he decides to stick around he needs to get a handle on the rising stars of the Republican Party before they let the party go into flames.


  10. - Horseshoe Voter - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 3:51 pm:

    As for Senate Republicans, since Ryan Cudney is the only one I know and I don’t think of him in the same category of “campaign staffers,” I’m going to just have to vote for two Senate Democrats.

    Jill Dykhoff. Really experienced, a great manager, friendly, fun. Most everyone thought this was it for Jacobs and she pulled it off.

    Sam Strain was fantastic! Extremely responsive and hard-working, quite the multi-tasker.


  11. - Crazy Like a Fox - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    Dovile Sobilinskas from the Senate Dems raised ALOT of money for just about everyone under the sun. Not only was she instrumental in securing the funds necessary for Cullerton’s domination, she also raised mega bucks for Morrison, Sullivan, McGuire, Kotowski, Link, and Hutchinson.

    Her work for the Senate President was more than impressive but it takes major talent to raise money for non-leaders. Morrison, Kotowski, and Sullivan were targets that needed to raise their own money to win and without Dovile, that would be impossible. We can give their campaign managers credit but without a superb fundraiser like Dovile, they lose.


  12. - RonMiranda - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 4:03 pm:

    Some great nominations made here! Clearly, the Senate Dems put forth a lot of effort, and it paid off.

    Given many past years of the Golden Horseshoes in this same category, I feel like Bryen Johnson deserves an honorable mention - or a least a shout out.

    While he wasn’t as deep in the trenches this year as he usually is, he did spend the last weeks in Rockford, and finally got to see a win after enduring 2 previous vicious cycles & defeats in that same district.

    Bryen works hard, thinks with a level head, and is genuine and kind to everyone who crosses his path. He knows the ropes, takes initiative and the SenDems are beyond lucky to have him.


  13. - Quincy Jim - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 4:14 pm:

    My vote goes to Kimberly Becker for Senate Republicans. Working for Randy Frese, she didn’t have too much to work with in the Field department, but she more than made up for that with the social media. Although Frese lost by 12 points, I’ve never seen such an active Facebook page or such a vocal Deputy Campaign Manager/Spokeswoman. Her attitude and skill-set ensure that she has a bright future with the Republican Party in Illinois.


  14. - Andthewinneris.... - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 4:35 pm:

    For Senate Dems, Jill Dykhoff. There were some great Senate Dem campaign staffer performances this year, particularly this cycle. But Dykhoff went into the Quad-Cities and pulled together a Jacobs campaign that most thought had no chance. She was steadfast and committed to the campaign, even when times were awful and she lead them to a huge win. That race was the stunner of the cycle in my opinion and she brought it home.

    Senate Repub staffer - Eric Murphy. He’s a bright, young guy with a bright future ahead of him. A worthy opponent. He’s a staffer to watch down the road.


  15. - Spliff - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 4:47 pm:

    For the senate Dems it would have to be a combined vote for the remap team (Jeremy Flynn, Noe, Lee LeBue and Ron Holmes) without the map no amount of money would have gotten them to 40 seats.

    For the Senate Repubs I would have to say Jo Johnson since I think all the Senate GOP got their reports filed on time. Which was about all they managed to do right this year.


  16. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 5:22 pm:

    For the Senate Republicans:

    - Paul Miller ran Arie Friedman’s campaign. Paulie oversaw an absolutely outstanding canvassing program. Apart from the candidate’s door knocking, Paulie’s team of volunteers and interns hit over 35k doors based on the SGOP’s internal tracking. Since the election, GOP campaigns have been criticized for being overly reliant on volunteer phones for voter contact. Not Paulie.

    - David Welter ran Sen. Sue Rezin’s campaign. A disciplined and successful candidate in his own right, David produced one of the best volunteer phone banks in the state generating over 135k dials. Elected vice-chair of the Grundy County Board, David’s work ethic, interpersonal skills, and formidable aptitude make him a rising star in the ILGOP party.

    - Rachel Bold ran Bill Albracht’s campaign. She parachuted into the race from Springfield after Albracht had parted ways with two prior managers. Rachel’s first test was to gain the confidence of the local organization, which viewed the party establishment with considerable suspicion. Her level temperament and ability to communicate her ideas in a respectful manner won over those around her. Regardless of the race’s outcome, Rachel demonstrated natural leadership abilities and prodigious communication skills that will serve her well on the next campaign or any future endeavor.


  17. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 5:24 pm:

    Jill Dykhoff. Hands down. The senate Dems had many great campaign managers this cycle but Jill stands out the most. Mike Jacobs was an underdog who NO ONE thought could win. Jill was disciplined and driven and never let any of the negativity surrounding the race get to her. Jill deserves to be commended for the outstanding job she did. There wouldn’t be 40 seats in the state senate without Jill and her work on the Jacobs campaign!


  18. - 'Goose - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 5:31 pm:

    Jill Dykoff. She was determined, fearless, and focused in her effort to get a victory for senator Jacobs. The dccc refused to put Jacobs on their coordinated walk lit because they thought he was a goner but Jill made sure that that the Rico Dems, not the dccc, ran a coordinated effort w Jacobs leading the way and he somehow won by ten points. Ten. Now the senate Dems only problem is finding someone as good as Jill to manage the senators 2014 campaign.


  19. - The third rail - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 6:05 pm:

    Another vote for Jill Dykhoff.


  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 6:08 pm:

    Apparently the low information voters are missing the magic of John Patterson….clearly it was nimble mind that put the Ds into the record books


  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 6:10 pm:

    For Senate Dems, I’d have to say Rachel Campbell, who ran John Sullivan’s campaign. Her dedication to the campaign already been mentioned by another commenter, but I think her focus really showed when she kept the campaign humming for two weeks while Senator Sullivan was having surgery out of the state. The campaign never lost a beat. Also, the final margin of victory in that race is a strong testament to the outstanding field operation that Rachel oversaw on that race.


  22. - Señor Seriouser - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 6:42 pm:

    Senate Dems-has to be Sam Strain on Andy Manar’s campaign. Sam started as Andy’s campaign manager months before many other staffers even thought about going on campaign. He often worked long days at the Senate, followed by long nights working at home to get everything ready for what the rest of us consider “campaign season”. While Manar was a good first time candidate, he came with much more baggage than other first time candidates. A major reason the Senate Democrats were able to allocate so many resources to other candidates that were in trouble was because of the hard work Sam put in for Manar. Sam was able to take a district that at best leaned a couple of points Democratic, and turned it into a nearly 11 point Democrat thumping for Manar, despite this being the seat the Senate Republicans focused on most heavily.


  23. - Dave - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 6:45 pm:

    Liz Nicholson raised a TON of dough…I mean a lot of money. I don’t think Jacobs would have won without the support of the leadership, I am not sure Sullivan would have been able to completely out message opposition early without knowing that big money was coming in from the ILSDVF. Hats off to Liz for chasing checks and breaking necks…

    For the R’s…. they all deserve a friendly tip of the hat for working really hard for what they believe in without resources, and a favorable map.


  24. - HEYo - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 7:30 pm:

    Senate Dems- hands down is Sam Strain on the Andy Manar’s campaign. Sam was the definition of professional. Sam Strain took on a new district and new candidate (with hardly any name recognization). Not to mention, Sam’s style of grassroots campaigning brought a whole new level to the campaign playing field. Just look at the numbers. Not only did Manar win, he won by a 11 point margin and within a heavy Republican district. Not bad for a first time candidate.


  25. - anon - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 7:54 pm:

    Helen Albert for Mike McElroy. She ran yet another of many hard fought races, this time in a district the opponent drew for himself. Helen is the epitome of persistence and hard work.


  26. - Tommy - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 8:16 pm:

    Senate Dems- Sam Strain is the clear choice. While other campaigns had hardly started, Sam had put the Manar campaign to work and laying the groundwork for a successful campaign in a tough district. He crafted a great campaign strategy and worked his heart out.


  27. - Knee Jerk - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 8:32 pm:

    Jill Dykhoff is the only SenDem campaign manager who pulled off an absolute miracle. Jacobs was all but out and while other wins like Manar were great, no one else was ever down like Jacobs was. With that perspective, no one else’s results compare!


  28. - Coupletwotree - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 9:01 pm:

    Jill Dykhoff for senate dems. The other races were difficult and others like Sam Strain(Manar), Mike Carson(Bertino-Tarrnt), and Steve and Rachel Campbell (Haine and Sullivan) all deserve recognition, as well as all the others who worked for the senate dems this year, but Jill was on the toughest race by far. Dragging an incumbent over the finish line is tough work, and Jill never backed down. Jacobs had a lot of trouble this year, Magen Ryan pulled him over the line in the primary, and Jill went up to the quads to finish the job in the general. Down and counted out over the summer, she worked hard to put Mike in a position to win, and when the cards were counted she came up big. She did a great job running the field for Marla Wilson in Rockford in 2010, and topped that with one hell of a comeback in 2012.


  29. - Happy Gilmore - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 9:10 pm:

    Hands down no question, Sam Strain for Manar’s race. Senor Seriouser had it right. No one, outworked this guy and he is loyal to a fault. He is cool and calm under pressure, developed a young staff, and led the best fundraising and field operation in the state. Manar didn’t raise over a million dollars and knock every walkable door in the district multiple times by himself. As a veteran of downstate races said, Strain ran a textbook race. I would say he is one of kind and the Seante Dems and Manar are lucky to have him!!!


  30. - Big Mike - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 9:39 pm:

    I agree, Strain without a doubt. No mistakes under tons of pressure. He managed a demanding candidate who pushes everyone’s limits and expects nothing but the best from his staff. He made Manar a disciplined candidate especially when it came to raising the money–an unbelievable amount. That race could easily have been an absolute disaster without the right manager who could handle the pressure.


  31. - Phantom of the Illini - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 11:13 pm:

    Sen Dems- Sam Strain for Manar’s campaign. Once he started on that campaign, he was not going to be outworked and much to his credit, he harnessed a lot of people together to get it done. He built his team with a young staff and a brilliant fundraising and field team. You don’t run the most expensive Senate race in state history and come away second, Sam lead put them up on TV before any other candidate in the state, it was just Andy, Rodney and Gill floating on the airwaves alone. If the DCCC had someone like Sam, they may have even pulled that one out.

    Senate GOP- Ryan Cudney- like swag said, he got dealt a poor hand, but recruited some decent candidates.


  32. - DickCheney'sHuntingBuddy - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 11:15 pm:

    SDEM staffers deserve credit for hard fought wins.

    SGOP lower level staffers who spent six months on campaigns are the ones who deserve the real credit for getting out and fighting a good fight against a superior organization. Rachel Bold, Eric Murphy, Andrew Ranch, Clark Kricher and a crop of fresh interns were thrown into the fire without the proper support of an organization. Many of them had do deal with internal bickering within a caucus that is searching for its identity and additionally dealt with lobbyists questioning who was going to be the next leader. As time went on, many of these races were de-funded by the organization and yet some still managed to raise funds despite intra-caucus bickering. These young staffers are the only positive light for a caucus decimated by a severe recent draining of institutional knowledge. These youngsters were asked to go out and win races when they were dealt a losing hand, even before they left Springfield. They came back to Springfield without so much a formal thank you from some key people in the SGOP organization. The other names mentioned for SGOP, all have qualities, but those young staffers pour hearts and souls into losing campaigns and are now questioning why they made a sacrifice for a Quixotic cause.


  33. - Uwaga - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 12:28 am:

    SDems: Really, it comes down to Jill Dykhoff, She held the most (seemingly) long-shot campaign this cycle, Polling constantly Showed Jacobs down, and yet that ground game was astounding.

    SRepub: Eric Murphy, for reasons stated above, he’s a bright, energetic, campaigner who’s more than willing to go the extra distance to ensure that his candidate does the best they can do.


  34. - SD48 Voter - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:32 am:

    Helen Albert for Senate GOP (Mike McElroy)….went up against Manar with a ton of money with a far right candidate and came close to winning (when you look at the rest of the results across Illinois).


  35. - Harmony - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:39 am:

    Sen Dems- Sam Strain was an excellent campaign manager for Manar. His organizational, strategic, planning, outreach, & fundraising skills were unequaled this cycle. He stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam. And, Jake Butcher was Manar’s field director that deserves recognition. He pulled together an inexperienced young staff and had the large district covered from corner to corner. Manar had a great team. He will want the same team next cycle.


  36. - ftw - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:47 am:

    SDems- Sam Strain ran an exceptionally well run campaign. No one can doubt his hard work and awesome grassroots campaign-style brought home a win for the Senate Dems.

    No matter where the race was in the polls, when you ran into Strain on the campaign trail, he presented a level headed and calm front to everyone. He didn’t ever look frazzled or do anything that would make Andy’s supporters think anything other than “Andy has got this.” Strain in my opinion clearly deserves praise for the way he ran this campaign and managed a candidate that expected nothing but the best from everyone around him.

    Senate Repubs: Cudney, he was given a bad hand and a bad year. It really didn’t help that, everyone and their mother were hurricaning in and out of his targeted races. Next time around, keep tabs on these “coordinated” efforts otherwise, all that will be left is McCarter’s crazy-mini caucus.


  37. - Honest Abe - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:54 am:

    Brendan O’Sullivan for putting a great puzzle together. Kept the entire operation moving. Brendan kept it all together.

    Sam Strain drew fire from all over the State with a high profile candidate who wasn’t allowed to make any errors by the press or Dem onlookers. Lots of pressure and he didn’t buckle even though all eyes were on that race. He should run Manar’s congressional race.


  38. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 8:53 am:

    I would like to recommend co-nominees—Steve and Rachel Campbell. It takes a lot of dedication to plan a wedding right after session and delay the honeymoon until after Election Day. They both took on challenging races, and hit their opponents so hard early on that they never stood a chance. I think they sent a clear message of “Don’t ever mess with our candidates again.”


  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 9:06 am:

    Sam Strain is the definition of level-headed, intelligent, and above all, incredibly organized. While there may be other solid choices on the SD side, there is no matching Sam. Top notch.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Indiana University to return $440,000 to USAID after audit
* On The Town: June 26, 2016
* A delightful start to July
* A delightful start to July ahead


* Lanes reopened after Route 53 rollover in Rolling Meadows
* Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion clinic rules
* Mount Prospect restaurateur keeps tradition going in Crystal Lake
* Surprise! The boss is buying lunch
* Actress pursues her own impossible dream to 'La Mancha'

* 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

* Illinois to get $17 million for HIV assist......

* GOP senator boasts about not supporting Do......
* GOP senator boasts about not supporting Do......
* Workplace retaliation suit against Tammy D......

* Arlington Heights' 8th grade Trump impersonator makes appearance on Jimmy Fallon
* U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Texas law on abortion clinic health regulations
* Forrest Claypool: “It’s the real thing.”
* Fighting for our parks didn’t start with the Museum of Lucas Stuff.
* Paul Ryan: “Sit-ins are bad for democracy.”
* Random thoughts. Nine dead in Mexican teacher protests. What if it were Paris?
* Trump: U.S. Supreme Court "blocked one of the most unconstitutional actions ever"
* Thorner: Stephen Moore Exposes the Mad War on Energy
* Being a poor kid in Illinois.
* Karl on Brexit.


* 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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