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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 14, 2012

* The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson goes to Joe Tybor at the Illinois Supreme Court

The Supreme Court finally allowed cameras in the courtroom this year and Tybor has been everywhere working with media and judges to make the experiment work. He’s getting good coverage for the court, but also helped develop a working cameras policy in Illinois. No one else has had as much influence as a spokesman.

Tybor’s work will have a lasting impact on Illinois, so he wins hands down.

* Runner-up is John Patterson with the Senate Democrats…

He “came over to the dark side” from a successful career in journalism, so he understands how reporters tick. That’s been invaluable for the Sen Dems - and will be even more important with all those new members needing to make a name for themselves with the statehouse press corps. John has a quick wit but is always respectful of other people and their time. He may be paid to put a spin on things, but he still goes out of his way to get the story right and make sure his staff puts out top-quality work.

* For the second year in a row, the Golden Horseshoe for Best Campaign Staff Director goes to Will Cousineau. He was a clear commenter favorite. Oswego Willy summed it up well

My vote goes to Will Cousineau. While Will might not be the best cheerleader, therapist, marriage counselor and drinking buddy, what Will is really, really, good at … is winning.

Will “owned” the HGOP Senoir Staff, threw the “Fire Madigan” back at the HGOP and beat the HGOP Senior staff like a drum. Will had twice as many seats than the SDems to worry about, and Will ran circles around his HGOP counterpart.

When you are Senior Staff, you don’t get Participatory Trophies , you win Seats.

Will Cousineau appears to understand that better than some. Not taking anything away from SDems, as a whole or the leadership, but Will Cousineau ran as perfect of a cycle to defeat his opponents as you can.

* Brendan O’Sullivan was a very, very close second place…

Brendan O’Sullivan was responsible for picking up 40 seats for the Senate Dems - a truly historic feat in modern Illinois politics. It was only his first cycle in charge of the Senate Dems, and he was able lead his team to win where they never had before, as well as fend off challenges that most thought were foregone conclusions. It wasn’t just the map or the President at the top of the ticket - and it was flat-out hard work. And he did it all with a level-head and easy-going manner. Hands down, he is to be one of the true rising stars in this business.

* And now for today’s categories…

* Best Illinois State Representative - Republican

* Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat

As always, remember that this is about the intensity of your vote. A simple name won’t suffice. Please explain your nominations as fully as you can.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Illiniforlife - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    Representative Joe Lyons- In addition to all his other accomplishments, he was the chief sponsor of the bill to licensed assisted living facilities in Illinois. Many elderly people live better lives because of Representative Lyons. He will be missed.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    First, Rich, thanks for the cite.

    Second, to the Post, Rich, are you going to do the Mark Beaubien Lifetime Achievement Award? Asking because that may factor into others nominating, including me.

    With Respect. Thanks.

  3. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:46 pm:

    Dem - Greg Harris. Easy choice, he’s a natural leader, level headed, and knows how to count votes. Also, if I remember correctly, he’s the kind of guy that can shrug off Rahm Emmanuel threatening to burn down his house and not let it interfere with the business at hand.

    Repub - I guess if I have to pick one it would be Mike Tryon. This is based solely on a pleasant conversation I had with him at Floyds some time ago, seems like a decent guy.

  4. - dave - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    **Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat**

    Kelly Cassidy — she hit the ground running as a freshman legislator, and I don’t know if there is a smarter and more engaged legislator in Springfield. She is also fearless- unafraid of taking on any powerful players- from the nursing home industry, to the Catholic Church, to the NRA. Her work on criminal justice issues is already that of a leader, and she has quickly become one of THE go-to progressive legislators in Springfield. She also navigates the line between machine/independent as well as anyone.

    **Best Illinois State Representative - Republican**

    This has to be Skip Saviano. There has not been a more accessible, bi-partisan legislator in many years, and it is a true shame that he won’t be in the building any more, at least not as a legislator. He was and is unafraid to against his party, and has always willing to do what he thought was the rot thing to do.

  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:53 pm:

    ===are you going to do the Mark Beaubien Lifetime Achievement Award? ===


  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:56 pm:

    Thanks for clarification…

  7. - reformer - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    The Republican is Sid Mathias, who has consistently been one of the most productive members in moving legislation, not an easy feat for someone in the minority. Respected on both sides of the aisle for his character and demeanor, Sid will be missed.

    The Democrat is Elaine Nekritz. She’s the only Democrat to ever vote against Madigan’s rules. She’s the leader on pension reform. She thinks for herself, rather than doing what she’s told. The House would be a more productive and civil place if there were more members like Sid and Elaine.

  8. - Not It - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    House Republican — Sid Mathias. Sid was never an overly partisan guy, and truly cared about his district. He was usually more tepid in his critical remarks and concerned more about the legislation, and how bills actually worked. He always respectful and a pleasure to work with even if he wasn’t with you.

    House Democrat — Joe Lyons will be missed for sure, but Greg Harris’ ability to focus on a detailed policy issue, learn about it, and then figure out a way to get it done is amazing. I wish he could be the sponsor for all my bills.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    Democratic state Representative - In athletics, in the Arts, Academics, winning awards is tough. Repeating that win is even harder.

    Greg Harris has been a “rising star” for sometime, but I think we are all wet about that. Greg Harris IS a star. Harris understands the Process, can convey that Process to his District Constituents, and to Groups that Greg is advocating, all the while working the “levers” to get the task at hand completed.

    Greg Harris is a work horse that has the temperature of the General Assembly clocked like few do. Harris can count noses. Harris knows where “noses” can be had, and works hard to build coalitions, not just voting blocks, to ensure whatever he is advocating has the necessary support to give the votes a valid foundation to withstand scrutiny.

    While some may disagree with Greg Harris, they all know it will be difficult to outwork him on an issue, and almost impossible to outmanuever him, as Harris has an exceptional grasp of the workings of the General Assembly and the complete understanding of the interworkings of the politics of Springfield.

    Freshman members coming in January would be very wise to talk to this “STAR” who passed “rising” a while back.

    Another year well done, Rep. Harris.

  10. - 1776 - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:16 pm:

    Democrat: While Greg Harris and I may not agree on many issues, he does honor his word. He committed to voting “yes” on a piece of legislation this year that later became controversial. While he personally probably wanted to backtrack, he lived up to his word and honored his commitment which is rare these days. I’ll never forget it.

    Republican: Ed Sullivan who has grown into a leadership role. He’s quiet and unassuming but has really developed an expertise and become a leader.

  11. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:22 pm:

    I moved into his district in May and I am very happy Greg Harris is my representative. Besides what everyone else has said, he doesn’t seem to be afraid of anyone or anything.

  12. - Centennial - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:25 pm:

    House Dems – Elaine Nekritz – hands down. She embodies what I believe to be the ideal characteristics of a legislator. She actually cares. Cares about her constituents, the legislative process and her colleagues. She thinks for herself, and simultaneously respects other people’s right to disagree with class and grace. No easy task. And perhaps most importantly… she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has little to no ego, when she is one of the few in the building that deserves to have one.

    House Repub – Rebolleti. I just think he is funny - and again doesn’t take himself too seriously. When he objected to Lyons announcing BFC’s birthday… classic.

  13. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:29 pm:

    Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat

    Linda Chapa-LaVia, the thing that bummed me out the most about redistricting was losing her as my rep. Always quick to return a call and offer help, we had some stuff going on with borders and the school district (that was mostly out of her district just our little corner of the district was in her district) and she was very helpful and supportive as we are dealing with it. She would ask pro-actively for updates about was going on, what we needed her to do to help. All of this for a small corner of her district that she was going to lose in redistricting. Also considering the person taking point on this in the area was me and I am a Republican and she knows that.

    It was a small thing that had us stressed out, but she was more on top of it than the state senator who covered much more of the 308 district.

    Also just running into her from time to time (we have daughters the same age) and her genuine warmth and interest in how my kids are doing.

    Finally I know she is very supportive to some open minded local Democrats even when it isn’t to her personal advantage.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:32 pm:

    Republican state Representative - Being in the Minority Party in any legislative body, it is difficult at times to be seen as “shining” or “the best” when you may be shut out of your goals. So, looking for Outstanding state Representative, Republican, you may have to look at different criteria.

    Jim Durkin is seen, and known, as the person his Caucus looks to for leadership, be it as a Manager during the Smith removal, or as the touchstone for his Caucus as they advocate the “counter” to the House Majority.

    Durkin is known to be a strong advocate for those who need a voice. As a legislator, Jim Durkin has leaned on his Prosecutor’s background to give clarity to muddied issues when emotions run high.

    Jim Durkin’s leadership on the policy of the Caucus is seen in the manner the Caucus looks to make the arguement, especially when discussing Criminal Law. And it is not surprising that you will find others sitting across the aisle asking Jim Durkin’s opinion.

    Jim Durkin has earned this Golden Horseshoe for the hard work and dedication he has shown. As Jim Durkin sits in the Minority, a vast majority of members, sitting on both sides of the aisle, look to Jim Durkin to get the benefit of his counsel, and his knowledge that has benefitted the entire House, not just the House Republicans.

  15. - walkinfool - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:53 pm:

    House GOP: David Harris gets my vote, (much as it hurts me to say it.)

    D. Harris has been out front on budget negotiations, and on pension reform, and focuses not on political party loyalty or leadership, but rather on what will work for the state. He used to try to negotiate between Sunni, Shia, and Kurd factions in Baghdad. That’s almost prepared him for dealing in Springfield.

    For House Dem: Nekritz simply stands out.

    Nekritz attacks the big issues, listening to all parties inside and outside of Springfield, and trying to fashion workable solutions. She has developed her own following among members of both sides of the aisle, as smart, fair, and not especially partisan. Her personal strength, logic and evidence will move the Speaker, not an easy task. She doesn’t openly play to the cameras, and is willing to share credit.

  16. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    Dem - I completely agree with “Dave” about Kelly Cassidy. She didn’t hit the ground running - she hit it galloping. When you’re dropped into the last few days of a session and immediately move from being thought as a naive Bambi to a tough as nails Rambo, you know you’re doing something right. I predict fastest path to leadership…ever.

    Republican - Mike Tryon. Smart and capable. For R’s in the Capitol these days, a good guy.

  17. - Eddy - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:06 pm:

    Repub: Skip Saviano. I live in his district. He has always made constituent services his priority. When you needed an issue in Springfield negotiated and solved, you went to Skip. He’s loyal friend and professional. Springfield will never be the same without him. Thanks Skip.

    Dem: Lou Lang. Leader Lou is loaded with passion. He is articulate and doesn’t know how to quit on an issue. He would have been an outstanding governor.

  18. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:10 pm:

    Representative Elaine Nekritz:

    For those of us exasperated by legislators who play it safe and duck tough issues to get re-elected, she shows another way to lead.
    Rep. Nekritz has proven that an elected official can boldly make tough choices, stand up as a responsible guardian of the state and be re-elected. Regardless, she just couldn’t be any other way.

    She’s immensely loved in her district, and takes on the most pressing issues in the state with grace, intelligence, stamina and the kind of optimism that comes from being capable and reliable.

    As evidence, she has taken on: pension reform, led the finding of fact for the Derrick Smith expulsion, and got a bill through the House to allow the recording of on-duty police officers.

    She voted to raise taxes because it had to be done, but then also was one of the only legislators to vote for facility closures because it had to be done. (Even the “cut-all-government” Republicans could not bring themselves to do that.) Without blinking an eye, she is openly smart-on-crime and supportive of criminal justice reform.

    Her campaign slogan was “She’s honestly different” and it is the honest truth.

    Republican nominee coming up.

  19. - Dan Bureaucrat - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    Republican nominee:
    Rep. Moffitt deserves praise for being a good listener, an honest communicator and a pleasure to talk to regardless of his position.
    And, I concur with those who applaud Rep. Mathias for being a voice of reason and intelligence.

  20. - ZC - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:25 pm:

    Harris for the Democrats, for all the above reasons but including he just has the flat-out funniest Facebook postings of any General Assembly member. He seems to have mastered the art of taking his work very seriously without taking himself too seriously. I live in Chicago alas so I get scant opportunity to observe or hear from the IL Republican party, so no nominations there.

  21. - Thomas - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 4:00 pm:

    I like Cassidy, too. Definitely a bright future. But c’mon, she’s been here less than 20 months. And there’s a big difference between sponsoring bills that get a lot publicity and actually passing bills that accomplish something. My nomination goes to Nekritz. Not only a workhorse — she chairs both Jud I and Pensions, two of the toughest committees around — but she might be the chamber’s most independent members. She also happens to be one of the nicest people under the dome.

    I’ll go with David Harris on the GOP side. He’s living proof that you can succeed as a pre-Fox News Republican, one who is conservative and bi-partisan at the same time. A leader on tough issues like the Sears/CME tax breaks and pensions, he’s a calming voice on the floor during heated debates. I don’t always agree with him, but everything he says makes sense.

  22. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 4:06 pm:

    Thomas, I’ll grant you that and meant no disrespect to Elaine Nekritz who I love and support for the reasons you identified. Final balloting in the Chicago Cynic precinct showed Cassidy with 50.01% and Nekritz with 49.99%.

  23. - Anon - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 4:07 pm:

    For the Dems - Dan Beiser. He’s an unassuming guy that goes about his business and delivers for his district. He doesn’t politicize every issue for political gain, but instead delivers for his contitients with a humility that is lacking in so many elected officials. He’s always been a guy who’s more concerned with doing his job instead of keeping his job.

  24. - unclesam - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 4:37 pm:

    House Dem — This must go to Elaine Nekritz. No one works harder or is more thoughtful on all issues. She’s independent, but also willing to tell you “no.” Most importantly, she works so hard because she wants to get things done, and done the right way. She’s steadfastly consistent on that belief…and that is why she deserves the award.

    House Repub: Skip Saviano hands down. One of the very few Republicans that can work on any issue and get it done. Skip always finds a way to work with the entire membership in the House to get an issue resolved; usually doing the hardwork behind the scenes.

  25. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 4:51 pm:

    Greg Harris already got the award for passing civil unions. His next award can wait until marriage equality is enacted.

    Nekrtiz deals with a wider range of issues than Greg and is clearly one of the most competent members of the General Assembly.

    Joe Lyons has the biggest heart and ability to empathize with others, including the minority party. Skip is the best schmoozer. But Mathias passes the most bills, year after year.

  26. - Bill - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 5:19 pm:

    I’ll second Jim Durkin for the Repubs. We don’t agree on very much but I can always count on Jim to be knowledgeable on the issues and willing to discuss his positions. He is accessible to the residents of his district. He works hard for his constituents and his district services are second to none. He also seems to be a calming influence on some of the whack jobs in his ever dwindling caucus.

    For the Dems, I’ll go with Thaddeus Jones. He had a great first term and is clearly leadership material. Unlike some of the other nominees mentioned above, he has actually has read and understands the state constitution.

  27. - Horseshoe Voter - Saturday, Dec 15, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    House Dem: Elaine Nekritz has taken on some of the toughest and most politically-challenging issues under the dome. She’s enough of an insider to be really respected and effective and enough of an outsider to really push the status quo. Plus, she just deserves it to counter the Trib’s outrageous and unjustified non-endorsement.

    House GOP: Ed Sullivan, such an accessible and genuine guy who is growing leader in the caucus.

  28. - The third rail - Saturday, Dec 15, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    I’m having more difficulty with this question than I thought I would, and I’ve been thinking about this nomination for a while. Here’s my problem: every time I start getting disillusioned by the frustrations of state politics I tune into the live feed from one chamber or the other (when they’re in session). And, while I’ve got my complaints (which I won’t voice now) and wouldn’t be sad to see a few current members defeated in 2014, the vast majority of members strike me as sincere, public-spirited, and principled public servants who actually care about helping their fellow Illinoisans.

    HGOP: I’m going to put in a word for Rep. Mulligan. She can occasionally be a little blunt, but I’ve spent years listening to her deal with legislative questions. She’s smart, she’s serious, and she’s direct. If I had to cobble together a group of state legislators to tackle an important and thorny issue, she’d be on the team. (If former 97th GA legislators count, I also need to mention Dave Winters’ role as resident gadfly…and, reputedly, originator of the Century Club.)

    HDem: Too many to choose from. Biss, Chapa LaVia, Lang, and Currie jump immediately to mind for various reasons, but I’m going to pick Nekritz. I think she’s wrong on pensions (though it’s the closest to a fair shake state employees have been given so far in this whole debacle), but still admire the fusion of political courage and practical intelligence that she brings to the table. Wish we had even more like her.

  29. - Crazy Like A Fox - Saturday, Dec 15, 12 @ 8:58 pm:

    I’d like to nominate Kelly Cassidy for the Dems and Dennis Reboletti for the Repubs. The two are truly an odd couple that have managed to cross the aisle and work together on a number of public safety initiatives.

    Kelly Cassidy deserves this award. She was 6 months behind her peers and has made the biggest splash amongst them - if she isn’t going to be MVP then she is definitely Rookie of the Year. When women needed an advocate to stand up against the ultrasound bill, they didn’t look to 10 or 20 year veterans for a voice, they looked to Kelly Cassidy, an appointed Rep who had never won an election. In her short time in the GA, Rep. Cassidy has acted as if every week in Springfield was going to be her last. If more Reps. acted that way, constituents across the state would be a lot more satisfied with what goes on in Springfield. Finally, Cassidy needs to get some credit for winning that primary - she showed her progressive credentials and built a solid governmental record in a short period of time to bring home an important win. Cassidy is the GA’s new liberal lion.

    Dennis Reboletti is trying to fill a vacuum of leadership on the Republican side. There isn’t a bulldog over there and Dennis is doing everything he can to fill that void. He really represents his constituents and isn’t afraid to tout his record and experience in DuPage County to make a point. He may be a little over the top but sometimes, that’s exactly gives Springfield its spice.

  30. - Girl Power - Sunday, Dec 16, 12 @ 5:28 pm:

    Dems: Rep Kelly Cassidy, She hit the ground running when she got to Springfield. Rep Cassidy is bright and a hard worker. She is a voice women can count on. She stood up against the ultrasound bill and sponsored other key legislation. I personally, admired her efforts on the anti-bullying legislation most. She did not let personal criticism that it was a “gay agenda” slow her determination. In a time where we are senselessly losing children, I believe her anti-bullying legislation will make a difference, and I know I can count on her to continue the fight. I also respect her activism in the community. She supports and serves her constituents selflessly. So many legislators are good in policy and not in activism or vice versa. Rep Cassidy has that balance down after only a short amount of time in office. She deserves recognition for all that she has done and continues to do!

  31. - Anonymous - Sunday, Dec 16, 12 @ 6:33 pm:

    Republican — Skip Saviano. Always put his constituents first, which is where they belong. He brought the bi-partisanship to the House, which was sorely needed. He’ll be missed more than anyone realizes.

    Dems — I have to go with Cassidy. I have never seen a freshman come in and make such a mark in the House. She isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues, reach across the aisle or speak out when no one else has the guts. Expect great things from her.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Illinois EPA Sponsors Interactive Environmental Education Event with Riverton Elementary School - Riverton Third and Fourth Graders “Dive In!” to Celebrate the Environment
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