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More Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

* The nominations for our Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Senate Democrats were focused on two people. But since this is a non-election year and since Giovanni Randazzo deservedly won it last year, we should definitely go with SDem fundraiser Dovile Soblinskas

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.

Dovile started as an intern and her hard work has made her a key member of Senate President Cullerton’s campaign staff.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best campaign staffer - Senate Republicans goes to overwhelming favorite 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. .

Congrats to both. They earned it.

* And now, let’s move to today’s nominations

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Democrats

* Best campaign staffer - Illinois House Republicans

As always, it’s about intensity far more than the number of votes. So, please, fully explain your nominations or I won’t give them much weight. Also, do your best to nominate in both categories if you can. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - huh - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:04 pm:

    There are really too many options from the House democrats. Each staffer that work on campaign issues is committed to the members they are helping and spend a ridiculous number of hours working to ensure the democratic majority. A point that many forget - their work is unpaid and voluntary. Anyone with any experience has to acknowledge you won’t find a better, more organized political staff than the House dems. While I give each of them props for their dedication, the award should go to their fearless leader, Will Cousineau. He is the brains behind the operation and doesn’t nearly get the credit he deserves from the members. He protects them, both on the floor and in the field, and is a political mastermind.

    For the House GOP, I think former chief of staff Matt O’Shea pulls double duty as a lobbyist and political strategist for their staff. He’s a great guy with tremendous instincts. Durkin would do well to listen to his advice. My only other comment would be that I hope Durkin keeps Kevin Artl around.

  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    ===the award should go to their fearless leader, Will Cousineau===

    Let’s focus on rank and file staffers, please.

  3. - Shawshank Redemption - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    Not many campaigns going on during a non-election year. Kristen Bauer had to share the award last year with Decremer just because he was leaving staff. I think she deserves to win it outright this year. She is the top-notch campaign manager for the HDems.

  4. - horse w/ no name - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:27 pm:

    HDems should go to Julia Larkin. No one is carrying more water inside that operation than her at the moment. She heads up recruitment, opposition research, won the Kifowit campaign with a difficult candidate and a tough opponent and will no doubt be heading up one of the top tier races again this year. She is the fastest rising star in an organization with a lot of stars.

  5. - wowsers - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    ==Not many campaigns going on during a non-election year. == Disagree. Campaigns for the House never stop. These people work year round on campaigns recruiting candidates, preparing petitions, etc.

    I nominate Julia Larkin. She has a calm demeanor and keen political sense. She is also a killer campaign manager. I would describe her as a less creepy female version of Shaw.

  6. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    Still wondering how to interpet those 16 reponses for the senate
    In the meantime how about Emily Wurth for D Staffer….many talented folks who absorb untold amounts of stress from all sides and win year after year.
    R Staffer should go to Sara Wojcicki who did the best she before Billboards bailed out.

  7. - Blue - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    Julia Larkin, she has stepped into Decremers shoes without missing a step. She is calm, smart and relentless. Julia led recruitment in 12 and is doing a great job again for 14. She is absolutely a female not creepy at all version of Shaw!

  8. - Jerry2 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 12:59 pm:

    House D - This is a tough one. Everyone on this team does an exceptional job and deserves some sort of recognition for their hard work. But I’ll have to go with Kristen Bauer. She’s been all over the state and is a real force for the HDems.

    House R - Without a doubt, this should go to Nick Bellini. He goes above and beyond for his members and candidates. He’s who is called in when things go south and expected to turn them around. They can always count on him to be one step ahead of everyone else on a campaign and no one can beat “Bitter Bellini” or the “Angel of Death” when it comes to writing clever mail pieces. If everyone on their staff cared as much about campaigns as him, they might not be a super minority.

  9. - Who doesn't love cats - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I both nominate and second Julia Larkin. Larkin heads up the House Dem candidate recruitment operation as well as overseeing Opposition Research. She has her hands in everything. It may be an off year election wise but not for Larkin. She is laying the foundation for the House Dems in 2014. The mere fact that she is trusted with those tasks should speak volumes.

  10. - 217forthewin - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    Julia and Kristen Bauer are amazing, but so to is Jon Maxson. He does an incredible amount of work for the party, and rarely gets even close to the amount of credit he deserves. Victory is reserve for the bold,and that is exactly what Jon brings to the table.

  11. - Brrrrrrrrr - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    House Republican Staffer clearly goes to Nick Bellini. He work extremely hard for the various campaigns he works on and he does it all with the iconic Grumpy Cat face. He looks so intense but he has a heart of gold and will do anything for his members.

  12. - Grumpycatwins - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:15 pm:

    Not sure on house d’s campaign staff but with house r’s there is not a doubt that Nick Bellini deserves this horseshoe! Always the first one in and last one out of a campaign office, stays on his candidates to ensure they’re working, and fights to the bitter end even if everyone else has give up!!

  13. - first time commenter long time reader - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:19 pm:

    let’s think about this… if julia win’s now, she’d win two years in a row (next year is in the bag for her). just sayin’. that’s not my vote by the way.

  14. - Chi-town - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    R-staffer goes to nick Bellini

  15. - ObamaSelfie - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Bellini is the dominant force for the House GOP’s political arm. While sleeping on a blow-up mattress at a candidate’s home, the forty-something old man still finds a way to finagle his way to victory. He’s a glutton for punishment and has become the lifelong Cubs fan of Republican politics.

  16. - teen girl squad - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    Julia Larkin for the House Dems - She can create and maintain a volunteer base for a campaign out of thin air and work them to push a candidate over the finish line. Yes, even Julia lost a couple races early in her career, but persevered and found herself running recruitment, opposition research and finally winning campaigns. She has earned this award.

    Nick Bellini for the House Republicans - Nick is never afraid to throw down with the opposition and pull the support needed to win. He’s seen a lot of top tier competition because he can get tough jobs done. He too has earned this recognition.

  17. - Cletus Purcel - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    HDEMS are a machine. There is no other way to put it. Madigan runs everything from top down. He is the true political staffer. No nomination.

    HGOP can be compared to the children of Israel making their 40 year track through the desert. Bellini is their Mosses. He will never see the Promise Land.

    He deserves the Golden Horseshoe. He has survived two leadership changes and rouge candidates going after staff.

    He hasn’t given hope; yet he still leads his children. He handles members with glove hands while keeping everyone from abandoning ship. He plays double duty while taking out the trash.

    Bellini is nominated; honorable mention to Tozer (Bellini’s hatchet man) and Woodward.

  18. - Girl Power - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    When it comes to cool, calm and coordinated that is Julia Larkin all the way. I surely do not know how she keeps all the plates spinning in perfect sync without dropping one. In the thick of a competitive campaign, she is able to keep a smooth running campaign team without the normal drama of campaign egos. She does her homework and her recruitment is always top notch. Level headed and very rational she can get things done.

    Speak softly but carry a big stick, and you will go far. Julia Larkin is definitely a rising star and the House Dems should realize her full leadership potential.

  19. - Huh??? - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    === HGOP can be compared to the children of Israel making their 40 year track through the desert. Bellini is their Mosses. ===

    What does Louie Mossos have to do with anything?

  20. - General Disarray - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    HDems, this is an easy one. Julia Larkin. She has organized and been successful in some the state’s most difficult House districts and has done this work in a very calm, cool and collective manner. She’s like a miniShaw, but better and way less creepy.

  21. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    “HDEMS are a machine. There is no other way to put it. Madigan runs everything from top down. He is the true political staffer. No nomination.”

    hey Rich - is there a Horseshoe for “Clueless Commentator”? Because I have a nomination.

    Larkin for the House Dems - she does things the Madigan way, which is to say efficient, quite and effective. For the HRep, Bellini won it already. Is Nick McNeely still there? Always thought he got a raw deal from his higher ups.

  22. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    OK, enough with the “creepy” remarks. This has all the hallmarks of yet another astroturf push by HDem staff. Remember how that worked out earlier this week? It didn’t.

  23. - Powell - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    i vote for bellini. hard worker and good instincts. as far as his comparisons to moses, that’s a stretch. moses had compassion.

  24. - 4 percent - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 2:50 pm:

    The best campaign staffer for the House Dems should end in a tie between Tom Cross and Kevin Artl! LOL…

    In all seriousness, Nick Bellini does a great job with the House GOP and Kristin Bauer for the Dems. After all, she was tasked with protecting David Ellis when they thought he would have a race. If that doesn’t show the seal of approval, then i don’t know what does.

  25. - suetonius - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    HDem - Jon Maxson for his work in the primary and on petitions (this is for 2013, right?)

    HGGOP - Bellini is great, but he’s a big boss now. His protege Ryan Tozer takes the cake. He’s organized and held together the apparatus during the leadership transition. Honorable mention to Joe Woodward, but his time is coming soon.

  26. - Suburban Rep. - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 3:03 pm:

    My vote goes to Julie because when I need info or advice she is always spot on and she doesn’t get excited and stays calm which helps me make a informed decision

  27. - MC - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 3:20 pm:

    I worked on campaigns with Nick Bellini, hes very smart and competent and works very hard.

  28. - Decaturguy - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 4:30 pm:

    For the GOP it’s not even a race. Even being outspent 3:1, Nick Bellini engineered the defeat of numerous downstate Democrats. Although without a sense of humor, some might say even lacking human sensibilities, Bellini has enabled the House GOPS to be competitive in Illinois politics.

  29. - Dude - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    I’ve worked multiple campaigns for House Dems, and my vote would be Kristen Bauer. She’s 8 am to midnite and beyond, seven days a week. She is 200 percent dedicated and loyal. It’s a chore just to get her to eat some food every once in a while. Very organized, very efficient, and very kind to her fellow staff and volunteers. She’s Boom Shaka Laka

    I’ve only worked one campaign for House Repubs and that was for Skip. My vote in that race is a toss up for Ray Soch, who ran Skip’s last campaign. Ray was everywhere and while he was everywhere, knew where everyone else was. He is organized, calm, cool and collected, and put up with so much poop. He has such a bright future ahead of his young life. My other vote would be for Garrett Hill. He’s the definition of cool, calm and charisma. He’s a computer geek with an uncanny ability to relate to people. He has a great personality, and a great personal story. I’m proud to call them both my friend.

    Staffers from both sides of the aisle are unique human beings, that are underpaid, overly abused, but so desperately needed on every campaign. Without the word loyalty attached to these people, no candidate for office could possibly succeed short of a million prayers, and alot of Doyle Brunson talent and luck

  30. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 7:37 pm:

    House GOP- No contest here…Nick Bellini. He’s the best and always goes above and beyond. I don’t know anyone as loyal as him. Runners up…..Garrett Hill and Nick McNeely. Hard workers and willing to help out with anything (without thanks or recognition).

    These three pulled together during Skip’s campaign and put up one hell of a fight. They’re a GREAT team. Kudos to them on a job very well done!

  31. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 7:44 pm:

    Jeff Clark also deserves a shout-out as well. He’s always around to help with anything and everything.

  32. - Turkey Shoe & a Shot of Nyquill - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 9:32 pm:

    I’m shocked that no one has nominated the tandem of Eric Lane and Chris Maley for the House Dems. Both are trusted Lieutenants of Cousineau who are delegated with the special assignments that those of us on the outside never know about. It doesn’t help that neither craves attention. They just get done what is needed, without fanfare or a pat on the back. Without guys like these, the House Dems would not be the force that they are.

    I’d also like to give a special shout out to Julia Larkin. Like Maley and Lane, she is always on special assignment, even in the off years.

    This award shouldn’t be about name recognition or a popularity contest, it should be about who is given the tasks that prepare the House Dem campaign machine for 2014. I don’t know who would argue these three who receive the Call to Arms.

  33. - ERB - Wednesday, Dec 11, 13 @ 10:02 pm:

    I think what sets the House Dems apart from other staffs is the ability to get the big things right while not letting any of the little things slip either. While this is certainly a trait of the organization from top to bottom, Anne Schaeffer is the utility player truly setting the standard. From the most important and consequential of projects (THE MAP!) to everyday business like sitting in front of the State Board for multiple shifts, Anne is there. She specializes in taking on the most difficult tasks without complaint, is trusted to run must-win races and works productively with some of the most difficult people in the business.

    Anne’s pure grit and determination make her an indispensable asset of an unstoppable team.

  34. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 12, 13 @ 1:02 am:

    At the risk of sounding like a follower, I must say the votes for Nick Bellini are spot on. Nick is a straight shooter - a dedicated, loyal, and integral part of the House GOP operation. He sees the bigger picture and gives utmost attention to finite details which help to advance the party - which seems to be a rarity these days.

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