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More Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State House Staffer - Non Political goes to Heather Weir Vaught

There were a number of staffers who had their hands in landmark pieces of legislation passing the House this year, but just one who had a vital role in all of them. Heather Weir Vaught has been at the Speaker’s side throughout all the year’s most important votes. She is equally capable and comfortable explaining complex issues to an entire caucus as she is to individual members who might need some extra help.

During an especially ambitious legislative year, the winner of Best House Staffer should be the committed individual consistently at the center of the State’s most important legislative achievements.

I fully agree and she was amazing this year.

* Runner-up is Brandon Nemec…

How many re-writes of CC did he do exactly? 5,326? He was always there to explain a 100+ page bill to members… supporters, opponents, and Todd. His fingerprints are all over that bill. MJM wouldn’t have given it to anyone but the best. No one else comes close in my opinion.

* Honorable mention must be made of Tyler Hunt, who was the subject of a persistent House Democratic commenter campaign…

Tyler has been around the capitol for many years and handles a great deal of subject areas for the House staff. He handles the appropriations committee with the most agencies and does it in an organized fashion. On top of that, an extremely nice person

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Senate Staffer - Non Political goes to Eric Madiar

He’s been a go-to authority in the legislature on issues surrounding the constitutionality of pension reform and telecommunications while managing a staff of outstanding lawyers who were also nominated for this award.

While pensions didn’t play out the way he would have liked, his professionalism leading to the law’s passage is to be admired. Sure, lawyers are supposed to be able to argue both sides but rarely do they have to publicly pivot as much as Eric did for the sake of compromise.

As for his staff, Madiar has empowered his troops to take on complex issues offering guidance when requested but the independence to make decisions. That’s led to successful negotiations on guns, gays and Mary Jane – not too shabby.

* Runner-up is Caitlyn McEvoy…

Not only did she work on the concealed carry legislation this past year with grace I admire - she also handled the gay marriage bill as well. Hands down she deserves the award in my book.

Congrats to all.

* Now, on to today’s categories

* Best campaign staffer - Senate Democrats

* Best campaign staffer - Senate Republicans

As always, intensity matters much more than the number of votes. So, please fully explain your nominations. Also, please nominate in both categories if possible. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        


20 Comments
  1. - dave - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 11:59 am:

    I guess this is what happens in a non-election year. I’ve got nothing.


  2. - Curious - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Tough to nominate after a non-election year, but I’m going with Dovile Soblinskas - a key part of the fundraising team for the Senate Prez and several caucus members. She’s young, invredibly bright and has really made a name for herself in the last few years. She started as an intern and now is an intergral part of the Senate political operation.


  3. - Curious - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    That was for Senate Democrats. Can’t make an informed decision for the Senate Rs.


  4. - Newfound Dutch - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 12:20 pm:

    Ditto for Dovile. Vibrant, motivated, and one of the key components in the political organization of the Senate. She runs a well organized operation, able to coordinate events for the President and caucus as a whole as well as individual members. Finally, she’s a master of motivation, forcing members to set reasonable goals and providing them with the tools and support to get there. People wondered about how much the SDems raised so much in 2012? Obviously Nicholson is the architect, but Dovile was the blueprint.


  5. - Palm Tree - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    A bright spot for Senate Rs is Pat Barry. He gets the process and understands how to build coalitions. He helped Sam McCann unseat Deanna Demuzio which was considered a long shot until Pat showed up and got them pointed in the right direction. As somebody who worked with the Chamber I saw plenty of campaign workers up close and Barry’s work was exceptional.


  6. - yearofhell - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    For the Senate GOP, definitely Pat Barry. Smart, funny, and good head on his shoulders.

    For Senate Dems, I have no idea who is handling the operation for them these days.


  7. - CurcularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    Best Senate GOPie has to be Kevin Kulavic he got a credible showing against Forby with no resources and did not lose his mind.


  8. - anon 1:54 - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    I don’t know if he is eligible, but I vote for Giovanni with the Senate Dems. He done petitions, research, and advertising for years.


  9. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    Just noted some zombie drone misspelled our name…vote still stands


  10. - All 102 Counties Agree - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    I have to say Giovanni Randazzo for the Senate Dems since he has put in countless hours going over and over election laws and petitions. For the Senate Republicans would be Pat Barry. He is very intelligent in picking his moves and knowing the outcome.


  11. - Garibaldi - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    For Senate, I’d go with Giovanni Randazzo also. He is on top of the Senate DEMs petitions, which can make or break a potential campaign. He can tell you about any Illinois race that happened in the last 100 years.


  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 5:09 pm:

    Senate Repubs - Pat Barry - He’s been through it all and suvived. He is definitely the bright spot for the Senate Repubs and brought them their biggest win since Pate, McCann’s 2010 victory.

    Senate Dems - Giovanni Randazzo - Like Barry, he’s been there, done that and lived to tell about it. He always seems to be in the mix and the guy folks call on when they need something.


  13. - A modest proposal - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 5:22 pm:

    For the Senate Repubs: I hate to sound like a broken record, but I have to go with Pat. He is consistently balancing being a non-partisan staffer, and a top notch campaign worker. Not only does he work on Senate GOP campaigns, but he is also simultaneously working on other campaigns at all levels of government.


  14. - Rahm'sMiddleFinger - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 6:29 pm:

    I’m going to go with Dovile Soblinskas. For those of us who head out on the fundraising circuit appreciate Dovile’s efforts. Senate Dems not only raise money for the Caucus, but they get each of their members to raise money. Dovile is a big part of that.


  15. - Shelby Co. Hoss - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 9:06 pm:

    For the Dems, I vote for Giovanni. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen, at the statehouse and in the campaign office. He knows the issues, the tricks, and the stories. Plus, he’s a really nice guy.


  16. - Step down - Tuesday, Dec 10, 13 @ 11:40 pm:

    Senate Dems- I vote Dovile Soblinskas. Last cycle she helped put together the senate dems fundraising program, worked most of the big races and put big miles on her car running all over the state for call time. Gio is great, but nothing gets done without the money.

    Senate republicans- Pat Barry. Taking out an incumbent is tough, no matter what the year looks like.


  17. - Com'on Dawgs - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 8:20 am:

    While no one person can receive all the credit (or blame) for the Senate Dems 40 seat majority, I think Brendan O’Sullivan deserves a great deal of credit. He was and is able to provide navigation to a diverse Caucus and through numerous complicated issues to the promiseland. Its true, the funds President Cullerton raised with Liz, Dovile and the Senators was vital. And its true that people like Gross, Giovanni, Ron, Rudi P and the rest of the gang provide great services. Any great ship needs a great commodore or its just a ship, the Senate Dems commodore is Brendan.


  18. - JustForToday - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 8:42 am:

    Sen Repubs: Pat Barry has weathered the ups and downs throughout the years and he is still standing. I’m not sure he gets the credit he is actually due from his caucus. He’s a good guy that knows how to close the deal and get things done.

    Sen Dems: Whether discussing staffers or those on the political side that are not actual staffers (like Brendan or Dovile), Giovanni is the #1 “go to” guy. Who does everyone call when they have questions? Giovanni. The guy knows it all. Literally. Election law, petitions, opp research, you name it. And anyone that has had a conversation with him knows he has an unequaled knowledge of Illinois politics and political campaigns. He has been around for a number of years and the SDems would be at a great disadvantage if he ever leaves. Giovanni Randazzo.


  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 9:01 am:

    There should also be a Golden Horseshoe for the best legislative support staff member(s)


  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    Wow
    Just 16 comments for Senate staffers. Seems like the voting needs to be extended to afford more tallies
    In meantime less us focus on Kevin Kulavic. Survived Forby, great actor and we believe has personal recollections that should vault him over the top.
    And the winner is!


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