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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for best Senate Democratic campaign staffer goes to 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!

The SDems did have a lot of stars this year, so it was a difficult decision, but Jill dragged Sen. Mike Jacobs across the finish line when pretty much everyone - including her own bosses - had given up on him. She’s the most deserving.

* Sam Strain is our runner-up…

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.

That campaign was indeed almost flawless. Great candidate, excellent staff.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for best Senate Republican campaign staffer goes to Helen Albert

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.

Helen is leaving the SGOP staff soon. I wish her nothing but the best. She’s run several winning campaigns over the years. It’s just too bad that she’s leaving on such a down note.

* Runner-up is Rachel Bold

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.

Albracht was an impossible candidate to deal with. Rachel didn’t win the race, but she won a lot of respect back in Springfield.

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

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Democrats

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Republicans

I know you may be getting tired of hearing this, but the contest is about the intensity of your nominations, not the number of votes. No explanation means your vote won’t count. At all. So, write the best nominations you can. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


62 Comments
  1. - Dewey Decimal - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 12:52 pm:

    I will go for Shaw Decremer for the House Dems. A tough and loyal workhorse whose leadership will be sorely missed. A real go to guy. Someone the younger folks and lobbyists alike rely on. A vital part of MJM’s team.

    Not sure on HGOP.


  2. - Just Me - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 12:53 pm:

    I would say Shaw Decremer for his race working in a strange atmosphere and smiling the whole way through it, but since he was working for an “independent” and neither off the party caucuses I guess it doesn’t count in this category. Ha!


  3. - horse w/ no name - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:11 pm:

    House democrats should go to Anne Schafer. She was the lead staffer on the remap of the state, a map that led to huge gains for the Dems. Every new member and safe incumbent should probably thank her.


  4. - CubbieBlue - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    JP Valadez for the Dems. Put up impressive 65-35 win for Laura Fine. In 2010 ran Biss to victory. Quiet and dedicated, he goes the extra mile for his candidates


  5. - Lakewood-Balmoral - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    Elaine Nekritz’s campaign would have been doomed without Mark Rosenfeld. Mark flew into the Elaine Nekritz campaign and turned it around over night. That campaign had a nonexistent field program and Greenberg started to gain some momentum…then Rosenfeld stopped him in his tracks.


  6. - myfavehorseshoe - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:32 pm:

    I think this award should go to the everyone who worked on House dem races, but if it has to be one person I would say Shaw Decremer. Not because of his good looks or charming personality, but because the guy can get the job done. He’s a political soldier.

    The members, both dem and GOP, respect him and know that they can trust his political judgment. Younger staffers know they can turn to him as a mentor for advice and guidance. When it comes to campaigns, you won’t find anyone better. He has a ridiculous lists of successes and this year tried to accomplish a double whammy. I know he’s leaving staff, but I doubt he’ll be hanging up his campaign manager jacket anytime soon.


  7. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:33 pm:

    Shaw Decremer, smart not only with retail campaigning, but also messaging, and getting campaign funding from sources most thought dried up. Trustworthy, and knows the value and the right time to do what works in his district, regardless of “the program”.


  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:37 pm:

    Try to nominate for both staffs, please. Thanks.


  9. - DownstateConservative - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:41 pm:

    Chris Guy for the House GOP. Anyone can deal with the craziness of the Julie Eggers campaign and can keep his sanity should be given props.


  10. - RVD - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:42 pm:

    Shaw is great, but he’s won before and is hanging up his cleats. Time to go with someone new. I second Anne Schaeffer. The map is no small thing. dozens of members, House and Senate staff with competing ideas, gigantic egos in the room, legislators lives at stake. Anne managed the whole thing with professionalism and class.

    For GOP, I’d say Nick McNeely if for no other reason, he got blamed for other people’s screwups.


  11. - reformer - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:54 pm:

    I also support Anne Schaeffer. Not only for her impressive handiwork with the map, but for twice managing landslide victories in the 56th district, in 2008 and in 2012, when the House GOP thought they had good chancea to win. (Shaw won a close one there when it was an open seat in 2010.)

    Anne has a gift for being organized. She’s able to keep all the plates rotating during hectic campaigns and humiliate the opposition, winning by 16 points and by 20 points in the 56th.

    Since the Republicans haven’t won much lately in the northwest suburbs, it’s harder to find a worthy nominee.


  12. - 'Goose - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    Emily Wurth. She ran a lean, mean, race for Scott Drury, who dramatically overperformed Brad Schneider despite being a first-time candidate with no prior name ID. Despite being Speaker’s staff, she also had the ability to completely win over the HP wacktivists as well and integrate them into the campaign effort.


  13. - Crazy Like A Fox - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    Emily Wurth from Drury’s campaign handled a dramatic last few days with poise to bring home a big win in the Northshore. Emily’s calm, cool, collected demeanor won over the locals and helped implement a HUGE GOTV effort to secure a victory for Scott Drury.


  14. - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:11 pm:

    For the House Dems, Kristen Bauer is simply the best. In 10 years with the HDems, she has NEVER lost a race. Not even Shaw Decremer can say that.

    In 2012 specifically, Kristen has proven herself to be invaluable to the HDems.

    In the 2012 primary, Speaker Madigan had his first real primary challenger in 40 years - with quite a bit of new territory due to the remap. We all know that the Speaker never takes any chances. Who did he call upon to serve as the lead on his primary campaign? Kristen Bauer. She delivered.

    In the 2012 general election, Kristen was sent to Decatur to lead Sue Scherer’s campaign - a campaign that was left licking its wounds after a brutal primary. Bauer was able to repair the relationships that were left strained after the primary and was also able to keep Scherer on the program - not an easy task to say the least. At the end of the day, Kristen led Scherer to a 24 point victory. People claim that this was a district that leaned Democratic, but not 24 points Democratic!

    Kristen aslo took a number of newer staffers under her wing in the least few years. Many of these newer staffers served as leads and won a number of targeted campaigns (Moylan, Willis, etc.). Kristen Bauer is the obvious choice!


  15. - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:12 pm:

    And Sorry, I do not know as much about the HRep staff, but I hear that Nick Bellini is good.


  16. - Maureen Artl - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    I understand why the GOP staff is getting no love, but it really isn’t fair - our guys worked like crazy and got caught up in a horrible year. I believe Kevin Artl did a great job managing the staff while keeping the members and candidates on track. Seriously - it’s a very tough job that requires you to be much more than just a campaign manager - I’d say cheerleader, therapist, marriage counselor and drinking buddy are all part of the job description (and yes, I’m biased, but he’s awesome).
    As for the rest - Nick Bellini always does a great job; as does Mike Mahoney. Jordan Ryan should get some credit for Cabello and McSweeney and Bob Stefanski did great work with Sweeney. I’m missing a lot of others but they were all great.


  17. - Oh please... - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:19 pm:

    I vote for Nick Bellini for House R staffer. He is smart, hardworking and doesn’t play partisan games. He stays level-headed even in stressful situations, and has a mind of his own and is not afraid to take a stand when need be. For House D staff, I would have to say Tom Wogan. Did a great job up in Yingling, rolled in only 2 weeks before election day, kept the momentum going without disrupting what the candidate and existing team was doing. Both a pleasure to work with!


  18. - final countdown - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:22 pm:

    House Dems, it’s got to be Anne Schaeffer. No one person did more to ensure a strong Democratic year than Anne and her map team. House and Senate landslides were not accidents, they were the result of a carefully and skillfully crafted map. And then she went on to an impressive victory in a tough district.

    GOP I’d say Mike Mahoney. None of the GOP political efforts deserve much praise but Mike is smart, earnest and a straight shooter. Good person to work with.


  19. - IL for Life - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:24 pm:

    I vote for Joe Woodward. Hard worker, knows what’s going on, is in touch with each campaign, tireless worker. Worked hard for the HGOP, despite the remap debacle.


  20. - MilwaukeeAveMauler - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    +1 on Valadez. I can’t remember ever working with a more dedicated retail campaigner. He takes his candidates to knock on every door, can handle cadres of north shore volunteers (never an easy task since many of them are like Rev Lovejoys wife), and stays under the radar and out of the press. Improved 10 plus points from Biss in the 17th. Guy is a winner not just on campaigns but as a person


  21. - TPain - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    I nominate Shaw Decremer for House Dems. That he takes pictures of himself with everyone he beats (at least in D primaries) is amusing.

    Nick Mcneeley deserves a nod. Most of the young HGOP staffers worked with him or were mentored by him. He managed dozens of successful races, and a really expensive unsuccessful primary, and somehow ended up the subject of an audit courtesy of our Auditor General.


  22. - Statehouse - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    2 words- Fred Moody. Nobody knocks a door like him.


  23. - Maureen Artl - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:35 pm:

    I can’t believe I forgot Joe Woodward - Joe did a great job this year. Everyone loves him and he worked around the clock this year!


  24. - Little Giant Country - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:48 pm:

    For the HR’s, I nominate Dan Pelfrey who managed Unes’ race in the 91st. That was a tough district for the GOP prior to the remap and only became more Democrat after the re-map. Unes was a tier 1 challenger in 2010 who beat out a 16 year Democrat incumbent. Pelfrey positioned Unes not only well on the issues in that district, but most important was the huge fundraising advantage. Madigan recruited a young, attractive, hardworking female candidate who knocked on thousands of doors. Jen Allison received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Organized Labor. She had full autonomy on receipts from Madigan that the GOP could hang around her neck. But because of the huge early money and earned media advantage that was established over the past two years, none of the Dems plusses mattered. Unes was a star in his polling throughout the race and won the district by a landslide margin, despite the same district voting overwhelmingly Democrat in the State Senate Race and at the top of the ticket. Pelfrey positioned Unes to not only perform well as a Republican in a Dem district, but pretty much provided a blueprint for how you win as a Conservative Republican in a Democrat district.


  25. - Mathskellar - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 2:59 pm:

    HGOP: I agree with Maureen. Kevin Artl did a great job with what he had. If your wife still loves you after campaign season then you are doing something right. True love can be neither remapped nor defeated.

    HDEM: Jon Valadez. He’s been around a while and won (Thapedi, Nekritz, Farnham, Anazette, Biss, Fine).

    Most impressively he’s a Mexican dude with White Sox license plates who works for the speaker and has won 2 races on the North Shore. North Shore people LOVE Mexican Sox Fan political hacks telling them what to do, but JP organized those volunteers and got it done.

    That makes up for Anazette.


  26. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    Political insiders have a reputation for looking after only themselves, but Kristen Bauer proves that there is a better way to do things. Bauer is a strong mentor to new staffers and an example of a true professional. She manages to stay under the media’s radar, but her efforts will be felt by the whole Democratic organization for many years.

    Can’t say anything for HRO.


  27. - Byebye2012 - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:33 pm:

    HGOP: Mike Mahoney or Nick Bellini. Both are super smart and know how to stay focused.

    HDems: I don’t know how this could go to anyone other than Shaw Decremer. He’s a legend and does more behind the scenes than anyone else. Before you get to the big races you have to get through the petition process. Shaw is the master of the petition process - no one knows how to keep on or kick off a person like he does. Go into a board of election or clerks office around petition time and you’ll see his opponents trembling with fear. The democratic members who had opponents kicked off the ballot owe their seats to his skills.


  28. - JMM - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:38 pm:

    I don’t normally vote for these, but Emily Wurth was a phenom. I was assigned to Drury’s campaign for the last week and that girl was the most put together. The ground game she had going was a sight to behold. The best part is she and I were in the same class in high school, different towns,down in deep southern Illinois (we randomly realized we knew each other from a previous life on election day). To see another southern Illinois transplant be able to work Chicago without missing a beat makes my heart super happy.

    She deserves it for showing that it doesn’t matter where you come from, hard work and a sharp mind can get you a winner anywhere in this business.

    Vote cast. Make it so.


  29. - Blue - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:42 pm:

    No contest for 2012 Shaw Decremer deserves to win for bringing home the first ever Democratic seat in DuPage County. Not only did he win his GOTV put that win over 16 points.


  30. - DemPower - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    Best Dem campaign staffer has to be Shaw Decremer. Nobody is as good as Shaw which explains why he’s been given some pretty tough assignments. He knows the business and can run campaigns upstate and downstate with equal ability. He has a great personality and is extremely loyal to the Madigan cause. Not only all this but he has gotten more media attention than any staffer ever. Normally this wouldn’t be good but it has added to the Shaw mystique.


  31. - Alex - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    Three democratic staffers stand out this election year. They are Shaw Decremer, Tiffany Moy, and Anne Schaeffer. Decremer and Moy ran state rep elect Deb Conroy’s campaign in the 46th district. This was an open seat in northern DuPage county and Conroy won by 16%! “Team Conroy” did an amazing job in republican DuPage. Their campaign was organized, patient, and hard-working! Decremer and Moy made a great team! No one predicted a 16% win in that race. Since Shaw is leaving staff I’d just like to say that it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him. No one makes volunteers feel at home like shaw. He makes us feel like we are the key to winning the race, but we all know that it’s Shaw’s leadership that gets the job done! He’s just a cool dude and all around good guy. He will be missed!
    Anne Schaeffer obviously did an amazing job in redistricting! She was also in charge of state rep Michelle Mussman’s campaign in the 56th district.(Schaumburg) Mussman won by 20%! Just 6 years ago this district was solid republican! (redistricting barely changed the 56th) Anne did a fabulous job in guiding Mussman’s win. When it comes to campaigns no one is more determined and intelligent. Any day that I had a chance to volunteer for Anne was “winning the day!” Anne is simply AWESOME!!!
    So my votes are a three way tie between Shaw Decremer, Tiffany Moy, and Anne Schaeffer


  32. - ERB - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    Shaw Decremer should win hands down. Who else has been the quintessential poster-boy of the Big Bad Madigan Political Operative, while continuing to win over the hearts and minds of suburban women for several big wins. He also manages to be respected by nearly everyone in the capitol, which is not easy considering the many big He also manages to be respected by nearly everyone in the capitol, which is no easy task, considering the many big personalities involved. I would say he will be missed when he moves on, but people with reputations like his never really leave…


  33. - Honest Abe - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:06 pm:

    Kristin Bauer deserves it. Sue Scherer’s primary race was terribly run and Kristin’s early efforts in the General put it all back together preventing HGOP from coming in.


  34. - National League - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:07 pm:

    Shaw Decremer. Based on his long list of wins over the years the award should probably be renamed in his honor. He fought an amazing tough race with Beaubien and meanwhile pulled out a win for Conroy. Many a D are indebted to him.


  35. - MatchStick - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:14 pm:

    HDems, I think the award should be named the Shaw Decremer Award. Though he didn’t end his time on Speaker’s staff with a victory, a lifetime of dedication and winning should bring him this award as a proper send off. Since we couldn’t nominate him for legislative staff, I would also like to add in how Shaw is a key member on the Speaker’s staff, counting votes, keeping members in line, and acknowledging the political consequences involved for each member on each vote.

    HRepubs, Garrett Hill has been able to make lemonade while being thrown into some of the worst possible situations possible. Starting off with Gaffney, only to watch him and his family to get drug through the mud and come out clean, to having to deal with the insanity that was Julie Eggers and finishing off with Saviano, it has been a cycle full of madness for this kid and yet, he is still standing. I will say, the biggest thing standing in his way (other than the complete Republican collapse) is his suzy curl locks flapping in the wind.


  36. - 1776 - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:22 pm:

    Will Cousineau was the field general who accomplished what previous greats like Tom Cullen, Eileen Mitchell and Mike Thomson couldn’t do - a super majority. He’s a quiet low key guy who never gets frazzled.

    On the GOP side, you can’t blame “bad GOP years” for the continued ineptness. McNeely got dinged for violations of law so he can’t win. “Bitter Nick” Bellini works his ass off and is a great researcher so I’d have to go with him.


  37. - ME - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:32 pm:

    Without question the best campaign staffer this cycle, and in numerous primary and general election seasons, is Shaw Decremer.

    His winning record speaks volumes. Shaw has been successful turning the collar counties blue because of his ability to motivate candidates and take charge of any situation, often with a baseball bat in one hand and cell phone in the other.


  38. - RegionRat 324 - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:43 pm:

    Mathskeller’s comment about Vaaldez is spot on. But he got the license plate wrong. Although JP is a huge Sox fan, he represents the Hawks on his plate. But as dedicated to both those teams as he is, he is more dedicated to his candidates. Case in point….he refused to go get his picture taken with the stanley cup in 2010 because the event was held in October 2010 and he had to knock doors for Biss. He sent his brother instead. He decided to forgo his seat to the banner raising game in 2010 because he wasnt comfortable with Biss’s lead. He sent his wife instead. Im told that this year, as soon as his new born started crawling, he had the kid working over day care moms for votes.

    And its not just dedication, he’s also as sneaky as they come. Like all Southsiders. He worked a picture of Brent Sopel into the 2011 innauguration banner. Not superstars like Kane or Toews, but a grinder….Sopel. He makes sure that he gets his people to the places they deserve to be.

    In fact Sopel may be the best analog to Valadez. He aint pretty, he aint flashy, he aint the best, but without him, you cant win.


  39. - reformer - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:49 pm:

    If the contest were best precinct worker, it would be Fred Moody, hands down.

    If it’s for the best senior campaign staffer, it would go to Will Cousineau (Sorry Kevin)

    I voted for Shaw in 2010 when he beat the “next Aaron Schock” from Schaumburg and won an open seat in a Republican wave election. He deserves the recognition he has gotten as a previous winner.

    The map made it easier for Democrats everywhere to win the close ones and to pick up some surprises as well. That map will keep Democrats in the majority through 2022. Anne Schaeffer put it together.

    As campaign manager, she kept a district Democratic that the Republicans and Fran Eaton have been insisting since 2007 is really “their” district. She clobbered the Twp Assessor by 20 points — probably ending serious competition in the Schaumburg area once and for all. In short, Anne — who is nicknamed “Anne-i-mal” by co-workers — has earned the top spot this year.

    Shaw


  40. - reformer - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 4:51 pm:

    Sorry for the stray “Shaw.”


  41. - SouthernIL Belle - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:04 pm:

    The award has to go to Shaw Decremer. A gentleman and a scholar, Shaw is one of the hardest working members of the HDems staff. While there are many deserving “behind-the-scenes” guys like Will Cousineau, Chris Maley, and those doing the research, writing, and designing, Shaw is consistently on the front lines. He handles candidates with grace, and volunteers and staff with even more poise and control.

    On his way out the door (though you never really leave staff, do you?), bestowing this award for a repeat time, should be Shaw’s swan song.


  42. - Anonagain - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:14 pm:

    HDems - Kristen Bauer, for all the reasons previously mentioned and because Shaw’s won it enough already. Kristen was runner-up last time and is more than deserving of the prize. She’s been a force to reckon with for a long time.

    HGOP - Gotta go with Nick McNeely. Has any campaign staffer gone through a year like McNeely had in 2012? The guy gets his name dragged through the mud by David McSweeney, then the IG dumps more crap on him. Even Rich said it was ridiculous. And to top it all off, for his many years of loyal campaign work, the HGOP let him go after the election.


  43. - Jerry - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:35 pm:

    HGOP - Nick Bellini. He was thrown into the Savaino race 3 weeks out and expected to fix a tough situation. He did more than any other staffer could’ve done and was 100% invested in Saviano. If he had been put on the race from day one maybe the outcome would have been different.

    HDEMS - Not sure. I’ll go with Krisen Bauer.


  44. - Illinoise - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:42 pm:

    Shaw Decremer. I’m convinced he’s part machine; no one is more organized. For being part machine, he’s still a pretty okay guy.
    In his races, there is no such thing as life/work balance for him… or the people who work for him. If you’re looking for sheer work ethic and motivational skills, then dude should have this on lock.


  45. - Maptastic - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:42 pm:

    For the GOP, Nick McNeely deserves credit and an apology for being the fall guy for the House GOP.

    For the Dems, I like Ann Schaefer and think she’s good at the campaign stuff, but it’s a little much to credit her with the map. I doubt she made decisions about boundaries and i think she’d agree the map is the result of many people in the House and Senate. With that said, she is incredibly organized and dedicated. She did a great job keeping Mussman in the House.

    Shaw is great too and his illustrious career will no doubt follow him into the future and hopefully Dane Placko will stop following him.


  46. - stucknmiddle - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:46 pm:

    The house dems are a tough one…obviously they all did what they were sent out to do (& then some)! House gop is easy…Nick Bellini was working behind the scenes in most races but was
    thrown into saviano blindly..too late…but he stopped the madigan
    surge from gaining.


  47. - Not Important - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 5:46 pm:

    Nick “the Hitman” Bellini. They don’t call him the Hitman for nothing. You may think that he is the quiet nice guy that doesn’t always say a lot, but that’s where he has everyone fooled. The guy is a “hitman” when it comes to strategy and opposition research. That’s just how he rolls….


  48. - Kunu - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:01 pm:

    MatchStick, I vote Garrett Hill too as long as he promises to cut his hair :)


  49. - George - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:08 pm:

    House Dems: Shaw Decremer should win this award on merit and as a lifetime achievement. Perhaps the award could be renamed the “Shaw Decremer Award,” and the recipient gets a wooden bat sponsored by Brent Hassert LLC.

    House Republicans: Tim Mapes. Thanks to his map, the remaining republicans all have safe seats.


  50. - Junkie - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:31 pm:

    All kidding aside with Garrett Hill, and in all seriousness with Nick McNeely, neither of them deserve the teeatment they got from their own party. That alone is deserving of a vote.


  51. - Fantasma - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:39 pm:

    House dems, I’d have to do with Anne Schaefer. Shaw has won before and it is time to pass the torch. Anne is the next big thing for the Speakers staff. The super majority would not have been able to have been won without a well written map, and Anne was in charge or writing that map.

    Even more importantly, is that Anne is genuinely willing to help new staffers, and really wants to see people succeed. She will go out of her way to help fellow staffers, even if it means pulling later hours herself.

    She is a workhorse, but somehow always manages to work with a smile on her face. She’s super organized and a true people person. My vote is for Anne Schaefer this year.


  52. - Anon-amiss - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:47 pm:

    —If the contest were best precinct worker, it would be Fred Moody, hands down.—

    Fred Moody is so 2006. If you want a real precinct worker, look no further than Mark Bretz… hes on the rise!


  53. - SHAW? - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 6:50 pm:

    He’s no Wogan.


  54. - Has had enough - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:02 pm:

    My first opinions nick mcneely. That guy dedicated himself to cross and the members only to get completely treated like crap in the end. He and nick Bellini are out there every year working to get the members re-elected and get treated poorly. It’s quite embarrassing who Tom has at the top. As for dem - I would say Fred is the. Guy.


  55. - Stockholm - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 7:24 pm:

    House Dems - a dual nomination. Chris Maley and Eric Lane. Neither has a high profile job but both did yeoman’s work. Lane oversaw 5 House races from the metro east to the northern suburbs. His versatility not only allowed him to stave off Democratic disaster downstate (Beiser and Costello) but he was able to shepherd Michelle Mussman across the finish line. He has a record a decade long that merits all star status.

    Maley directs a team or writers and researchers who cranked out hundreds of thousands of mail pieces in every corner of Illinois. His attention to detail and ability to quickly transform GOP gaffes to game changing attack pieces prematurely ended more than one GOP candidates hopes before October.

    HOuse GOP - Kevin Artl. He made do with less in a state overrun with Obama Democrats. It could have been alot worse if he had listened to his critics. One of the hardest things for a manager is to push aside others suggestions and stick to your guns. If he hasn’t done that the Dems would be around 75 seats.


  56. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 8:04 pm:

    Will Cousineau - For the reasons stated, the Veto-Proof Majority and making the HGOP Senior Staff look uttery foolish. Will Cousineau “owned” the HGOP, going deep into the Caucus, and taking out Saviano to top the night for the Speaker.

    For HGOP - “Nick McNeely deserves credit and an apology for being the fall guy for the House GOP.”

    It wasn’t the MAP, It wasn’t getting “caught up in a horrible year”, and Nick McNeely takes the fall? At the bare minimum, Nick should get an apology, and the Golden Horseshoe.


  57. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 9:24 pm:

    Steve Brown


  58. - Joe Bidenopoulous - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 9:51 pm:

    HDEMS:
    I agree the award should be named for Shaw Decreamer, the literal cream of the crop and misspelled as such, but it should be passed on this year. I’d give it collectively to departing staff, but if somebody put a gun to my head…and he might…I’d choose Tom Wogan. Simultaneously wielding an acid pen in the shadows and easily audible verbosity in public, Wogan has coddled and cajoled innumerable candidates and members. Close, close second to Miss Anne Schaeffer, who deserves kudos for the map but also the yoeman’s work she does day in and day out.

    HREPs
    I don’t care what the people say, Nick McNeely wins the day! Great attitude and demeanor, great skill, even a bus can’t keep the man down.


  59. - thecategory - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 10:40 pm:

    I think most people will agree that the House dems have the best campaign staffers out there. The staff that writes the mail is brilliant; the staff in the field is top notch; and Will Cousineau is a mastermind (he should win when we vote for best political director).

    The category is best campaign staffer - that doesn’t mean the nicest person or the person most willing to mentor new staff. It means the person who knows how to do what is necessary to make candidates win. That takes a person who can develop a strategy, get candidates to do things they may not want to do, and gut an opponent with a smile. The winner of this category should be someone who strikes fear in the heart of their opponent, and admiration from their colleagues. Ask any republican who they most fear running their opponents campaign and they’ll say Shaw Decremer.

    For nearly a decade he’s engaged in a type of campaign warfare that few understand or will ever see. Simply put, what he does is magical.

    Sure he won this award before (once 2 years ago), but that shouldn’t preclude him from winning again. He’s the best. Hands down.


  60. - anon - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 10:47 pm:

    Nick McNealy should get a bronze statute for surviving this year.

    Shaw Decremer should get kudos for a stellar year and a tremendous career.


  61. - Lets see here.. - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 10:54 pm:

    McNeely - This a no brainer. Great person. Great campaigner. He deserves it.


  62. - NW GOPer - Thursday, Dec 13, 12 @ 12:18 pm:

    My nomination on the GOP side goes to Bob Stefanski who ran Susan Sweeney’s campaign. Stefanski dealt with a trio of unprecedented circumstances: a write-in candidate in a tier 1 race, an opponent with unparalleled union support and an incumbent GOP member who supported a dem. Stefanski turned a newbie candidate into one of the most impressive challengers of the fall. She was one of the top GOP fundraisers and most aggressive campaigners. She outperformed every GOP candidate in her area, but in this year, unfortunately that still wasn’t enough.


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