* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic State Representative goes to Rep. 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
* Runner-up goes to Rep. Greg Harris…
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.
Freshman Rep. Kelly Cassidy got a lot of votes and earns an honorable mention.
* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican State Representative goes to Rep. Jim Durkin…
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.
* Runner-up is Rep. David Harris…
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.
* OK, on to today’s categories…
* Best Democratic State Senator
* Best Republican State Senator
Make sure to fully explain your vote or I won’t even bother to count your nomination. Thanks.