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The final 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award round

Monday, Dec 23, 2013

* The 2013 Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider is Dave Vite, who retires this week from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association…

Imagine the conversations and decisions that were made when he roomed with Mike McClain and Greg Baise over the past several decades. There is no better insider than Dave who worked with GOP and Dem Governors, Cullerton, Madigan, and others.

The fact that Quinn, Rahm, Daley, Madigan, Cullerton, Durkin, and Radogno all feted Dave at his retirement says it all.

* The 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Dave Sullivan, again…

There is no doubt in my mind that in the near future, the prize for Best Contract Lobbyist will be deemed the Dave Sullivan Golden Horseshoe for Best Contract Lobbyist. The man is a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge — both institutional and anecdotal. He has earned the deep respect of Members from both parties and in both chambers in addition to the obvious accolades coming from other lobbyists and insiders from every corner of the State House. It doesn’t hurt that Dave is just genuinely a nice guy. My vote goes to Dave Sullivan wholeheartedly.

* Runner-up is Liz Brown…

Dave Sullivan is a great contract lobbyist, but I think he has won this award before (not sure, Rich?) I am going to go with one to watch for the future- Liz Brown. She has done a great job and deserves to be awarded for her tenacious spirit and know how work product. She has built an impressive book of business for herself.

* The 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist is a tie between Todd Vandermyde of the NRA…

Todd Vandermyde had a very good year on behalf of the NRA. He got 95% of what he said he’d get in the concealed carry law. He worked well with some new faces like Sen. Raoul and didn’t let his more passionate supporters derail a well negotiated compromise. As someone who was working on the other side of the CC issue, I tip my cap to Todd. He deserves to win this award.

* And Rob Karr of IRMA…

This guy tracks and lobbies hundreds of bills a session. Every member knows him. He is honest, direct and works harder and longer then just about anyone in the building.

Congrats to everyone.

* OK, it’s time for our final category…

* The 2013 Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe Award for Best CapitolFax.com Commenter

Oswego Willy deservedly won this award last year.

Make extra sure to explain your vote in comments, please. This ain’t about numbers, it’s about intensity. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        


39 Comments
  1. - Snucka - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:04 am:

    My vote goes to RNUG for his excellent analyses on the pension issue. It was the most complicated issue of the year, and he was by far the most informative commenter of the year.


  2. - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:05 am:

    Dave Sullivan certainly deserves his award. What a fine person, in so many ways.

    So many great commenters!

    Wordslinger Always Insightful

    OswegoWilly Delightful

    MichelleFlaherty Biting

    RNUG Thorough and Fair

    Mason born Common sense

    Winner for me: RonOglesby

    Ron has firm positions, which he expresses with courtesy, respect, logic, and evidence. He is partisan without being dismissive or angry. His arguments moved my position on gun laws, which was no mean feat. He teaches and learns. Isn’t that really why we participate on this blog?


  3. - And I Approved This Message - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    It’s high time this hardware goes to my favorite poster who hasn’t won this award yet - 47th Ward. Insightful, factual and always with an original thought instead of talking points, he may not be as prolific as some others, but like E.F.Hutton, when he speaks people listen. He usually adds something valuable to the discussion.

    Two other reasons: like me he’s a Cub fan and he gets irritated when people refer to our political affiliation as the “Democrat” Party. Drives me crazy. Go 47th!


  4. - skeptical spectacle - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    This year it’s a no brainer……RNUG should win hands down……he has been so open and free with educating all of us, regardless of our individual predilections, on all aspects of the pension situation in the State of Illinois.

    He is clearly a very objective and fair-minded individual.


  5. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    RNUG deserves the award, he does his research and educates readers on pension issues. He responds politely to others during discussions.

    Last year’s winner, Oswego Willy, will be Gov-elect by this time next year!


  6. - Cornerfield - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    Since the pension redo was one of the biggest issues this past year, I wholeheartedly nominate RNUG as best commenter of the year. He tirelessly provided thorough and cogent answers, reviews, and historical context to all of the many proposals all year long. Bravo!


  7. - second street - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    RNUG for what skeptical spectacle said in his first paragraph.


  8. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    For best commenter this year I nominate RNUG. RNUG provided us with info on the legality of pension reform, as well as doing some valuable number crunching. He went deep in the weeds of pension reform, if you pardon the cliche. He also supports raising more revenue for the state and closing the structural revenue gap, which I also support.

    I give out an honorable mention to wordslinger. Wordslinger’s prose is some of the most incisive I’ve ever seen, and he can do it in two sentences or less. I remember he once asked how someone can cram so much stupid into one or two sentences. That was funny. When Madigan rustled up enough votes to pass SSM, wordslinger praised him and said he actually did something to help people, as opposed to the “sanctimonious scribbling” of pundits.

    I give out another honorable mention to Oswego Willy, who had to fend off those in his own party who attack him because he is not “pure” enough for them.

    I think that Capitol Fax has the best commenters I’ve seen. There are many who deserve the award and praise.

    I wish everyone happy holidays and look forward to next year’s busy political season.


  9. - A guy... - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    I’m in for RNUG for the work done on Pension Reform as well. It was vital to have someone read and lay out the bill for smart people to be able to grasp. No individual honorable mentions. The whole group is honorable so they can share the prize in my view.


  10. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    I know a lot more about how state pensions work because of RNUG. He gets my vote as well.


  11. - Name Withheld - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    Hands down RNUG. His pension analysis was like a master class on the subject. OW for runner up, but only because he would otherwise be my vote for the top.

    Oswego Willy is the standard of excellence on most topics. RNUG was the standard of excellence for the pension discussion.


  12. - Ray del Camino - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    Since pension reform was the big enchilada this year, and it was a complicated and messy issue–even for policy nerds–CapFax readers had RNUG as a resource that other wonks didn’t have. Agreed w all of the above. Runner-up is soccermom, succinct and funny and appropriately snarky.


  13. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    I am going to say Arthur Anderson

    he does not post often, and he uses few words; but he always manages to communciate in a sentence or two sentiments which take others pargaraphs, plus he is just freakin hillarious at times.

    if there is a runner up for brevity I would nominate him for that catagory as well.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    By far the most difficult category.

    Runner-Ups. These two commenters are extremely deserving. They always have the right amount of snark, while teaching. I feel I am more informed when they add to the discussion, and they know, with loads of respect, I would hate having to go up against them in the trenches, where more times than not, they would hand me my lunch, wether I wanted it or not.

    - Soccermom - is someone I have nominated before, as she is as worthy this year as any other, and that is saying something. Keeping us all level-headed, while slicing and dicing up an issue, giving the governmental and political perspective with equal skill. This place is better when she is around.

    - 47th Ward - brings the “old school” and “new skool” politics in focus like very few do here. Getting his take us probably one of the best temperature gauges for the City, it’s politics, and what I like best, the historic and political perspective. There are far, FAR too many to say I would want to share a barstool with, but since I am nominating him, in that spirit, it only feels right.

    - Soccermom - & - 47th Ward - are my runners-up, but take a backseat to no one here. Thanks to you both for making this place great.

    See you both on the Trail, or maybe in a Tavern someday.


  15. - LakeviewJ - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:40 am:

    From this stable of worthy contenders, I concur with AIATM- my vote goes to 47th Ward.

    Always pithy, always original. Even on subjects where comments can become stale or self-referential, 47th Ward finds it in himself to offer forth a well-crafted quip.

    Beyond that, he provides crisp, insightful commentary. He’s fair, level-headed, and clear. When he chimes in, I usually walk away having either learned something or gotten a new perspective.


  16. - View from the Cheap Seats - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    Oswego Willy make me laugh out loud typically once a week, sometimes more. As Miller say, “more of that please.” I vote for OW.


  17. - Easy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    I’m for Oswego Willy. This year we saw an Oswego Willy willing to give fresh looks to old faces, applaud some in the GOP for courageous stands on tough issues and move away from flippant, simple hits to a more overarching message of what needs to change and why. In short, the 2013 Oswego Willy was about hope and change.


  18. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    Oswego Willy and Arthur Anderson are now disqualified from this award owing to the fact that they are a professional consulting organization and therefore commenting for hire.

    I think the yeoman’s work this year was definitely performed by RNUG. His thoughtful posts, and patient, helpful responses to questions about the pension reform cannot be beat.

    RNUG, I think you will be the winner, so I offer my congratulations now.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    I want to say thanks for last year, and the very nice aside by Rich. I still feel very grateful to everyone, including Rich for letting me hang out with such great commenters, the best, bar none, in the blogosphere.

    Any votes I may receive this year are only due to the hard work of my favorite Campaign Manager, and one of the Best Sports here.

    -Norseman -. Cannoli can’t thank you enough. OW.


  20. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    RNUG for reasons already stated


  21. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    This is always tough because so many smart people teach and entertain during the year.

    This year, I vote for Soccermom. I like her politics, but even more I like the way she makes her case in a smart, concise way while being a model of civility (something I resolve to aspire to).

    The kid has it all.

    – She’s a progressive who’s also a fiscal conservative (I hear some heads exploding!).

    – A loyal advocate for her friends who’s willing to call them out when they’re wrong.

    – A committed partisan who respects (or at least doesn’t disrespect) those on the other side.

    – A great writer and voice of reason who is witty and wise, and only releases righteous anger when someone really deserves it. Then, look out.

    She doesn’t write as much like gasbags like me, but I always look forward to spotting the handle. One of my absolute favorites over the years, she’s long overdue for the nod.


  22. - Logic not emotion - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    I second walking fool’s nomination of Ron Oglesby. Ron has managed to effectively advocate and educate for his position on a controversial issue without alienating those holding the opposite perspective. Very few others have managed to do that.


  23. - The Historian - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Yes, RNUG, almost by acclamation–pension reform’s almost as difficult as ERISA case law–but for runner-up, I’m always very impressed by 47th Ward.


  24. - LincolnLounger - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    I wish RNUG was on the Supreme Court.


  25. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    If I had a vote in the legislature, I would have voted in favor of the pension bill that passed.

    But I nominate RNUG anyway.

    The biggest issue of the year was pension reform/change, and RNUG was on top of it. As a subject matter expert, RNUG served as a model for others who may be experts on other issues in the coming year.

    RNUG made a powerful case for the constitutional questions of the bills being considered. RNUG didn’t just post “UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” Instead, he took the time to explain why he believed this.

    He went through the ultimate bill in great detail, and he helped other state employees/retirees out who asked questions. And RNUG admitted when he wasn’t sure about something.

    Pension reform is an emotional issue, and RNUG didn’t waste time getting into wars with those who disagreed with him.

    I nominate RNUG even though I disagree with him on pension reform/change. Thanks to RNGU, I learned a great deal about respecting the other side’s opinion, as well as the law, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

    Thank you, RNUG!


  26. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 11:25 am:

    Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe

    I have a tie again, because these two made a most Wonky Year a classroom with just about every wonky Post, and I know I am better off reading and learning from them this year.

    - AA - is one of a very select few that when it comes to the Fiscal and the state of Illinois, the chorus here may call out and ask for him to Post. His incredible knowledge and historical perspective, back with the numbers and rationale keep me reading and learning, not about votes or numbers today, but what they all meant yesterday, and will mean tomorrow.

    - RNUG - was a shining star, a superstar, giving a perspective we come to “expect” from Capitol Fax, and his contribution this year elevated what already the best commenters found anywhere. The more I read, with incredible knowledge and with a back and forth with all the commenters here, the more I realized what a gift he is to the Crew here.

    I have forgotten far to many to begin a list of those I know I should consider. I will follow the lead of one of my personal favorites - Michelle Flaherty - and just say that this Community is far more than typed words. Thanks to all who make it as great as it is.


  27. - MEP - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    I have to nominate Oswego Willy even if he is commenting for hire. We let professional athletes play in the Olympics so I see no reason why he cannot win this gold. Ever since I first found this site over the summer, his witty remarks made the comment section as fun to read as the articles.

    I’d also like to give an honorary mention to a comment that made me laugh hard enough to get busted reading CapFax in class.
    “I thought the Senate had already been reduced to 40 members.” - Michelle Flaherty
    http://capitolfax.com/2013/09/17/more-consequences-of-the-rauner-plan/


  28. - Calhoun Native - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    RNUG hands down. His thoughtful and knowledgeable posts about the changes to the retirement laws caused a little less panic in the Calhoun household.


  29. - Casual Observer - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    While the rest of us were watching football and sleeping off our tryptophan over the Thanksgiving weekend, RNUG was scouring the pension legalese so he could offer us all an in depth analysis. Talk about taking one for the team. Thanks RNUG and I hope you get to really enjoy the holidays this time.


  30. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    I’m going to just list the people I always make sure to read when don’t have time to read every post:

    Wordslinger - always knowledgeable and often gets to the heart of things better than most

    AA - ditto

    47th - for all the reasons others listed

    Soccermom - she often manages to say in one sentence what I take paragraphs to get to

    Steve Schnorf - for continuing excellent budget analysis and helping all of us understand how the fiscal issues really work in Illinois

    In a category we don’t have, Best New Commenter, Old and In The Way deserves an honorable mention. He isn’t always around, but he’s always informative when he is.

    Finally, everyone who also helped educate me on some of the nuances I missed while analyzing the various pension issues. We’re all smarter from all the tidbits that were shared.


  31. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    This is the Wordslinger Golden Horseshoe.

    There is - wordslinger -, a space, another Tier, then maybe you get to another commenter, maybe.

    No one has the depth on do many issues, then be able to parse out all the sideshow, and cut to the quick like - wordslinger -.

    - wordslinger - can then shift gears and talk sports, movies, history, music, the well-roundedness of his participation and sharing that knowledge reminds me why he is the Gold Standard, and why it’s just plain cool hanging here to be part of something so special, the mold was broke.

    Salut to you - wordslinger -. “We all *try*, you succeed”

    “Of all the Gin Joints… ” I am glad I walked in here, and you set the standard for us all.


  32. - Todd - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:13 pm:

    I have a draw between Word and 47th. both cut to the chase, are witty and snarky. Both are on the otherside of some issues from me but I like the thoughts and battering going back and forth.

    we may not always agree, but I know it’s going to be a good debate if they are involved


  33. - Mittuns - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:18 pm:

    RNUG, for the reasons mentioned above.

    A very honorable mention to MrJM. Always has a witty, satirical comment befitting of the New Yorker. Definitely appreciate the humor.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    Thanks - Cincinnatus - for lobbing that grenade. lol.

    No one pays me to be here. It’s a “bit”. Geez, lol.


  35. - Wensicia - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    47th Ward — He succinctly makes his point and is rarely wrong.

    Honorable Mention, MrJM. If there was a category for one-liners, he’d win easily.


  36. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    I am humbled to even be mentioned in this category. There are too many excellent commenters here and I am tickled to death to be among them. It’s like making it to the finals in our own version of Fantasy Politics.

    RNUG was a respected voice this year, as were Todd, Steve Schnorf, YDD and others. Soccermom should win for her comments throughout the year but also because I don’t think a woman has won this award yet (hisgirlfriday and amalia are also very good voices). And as we discovered last year, the always hilarious Michelle Flattery isn’t a woman.

    Siriusly, Chicago Cynic, And I Approved This Message and all of the other regulars are the reason I keep coming back here. Thanks everybody for making this one of my favorite places.

    But If Rich asked me to name the best commenter though, and thankfully he did, I’d give it to MrJM, who is consistently funny and prolific without being too much. With his brief zingers, he shows us all the heart of the issue in 30 words or less.


  37. - Superanon - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    I nominate Bill, Irish, and/or AFSCME steward, they’re all reliable, with a dash of scorn and perspective, which is not just enjoyable, but reminds us that when we are talking about policy, it’s really affecting people. Rich do you keep stats on caption contest winners? That should count in this argument. This year had some spit my coffee out ones. Merry Christmas CapFax.


  38. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:48 pm:

    You’re right, OW, it’s a bit, on both our parts!

    I’m surprised you bit…

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and all the CapFax folks!


  39. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 23, 13 @ 3:57 pm:

    - Cincinnatus -,

    Bud, your credibility caused my response, otherwise you might start that “telephone” rumor. Much respect to your credibility.

    Rest and enjoy your Holiday, then back at it. Keep Dillard’s nose to the grindstone. OW.


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        * Schock: IRS official should be prosecuted ...
        * Aaron Schock selfies from the audience at ...
        * Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure® A...
        * Schock Praises Illinois Counties for Top N...
        * GOP House Dinner boosts Rep. Aaron Schock ...

        * Loading Koch Industries Website Too Many T......
        * Maryland and DC among worst for food aller......
        * Cleveland State University to reestablish ......
        * Convicted political boss Al Sanchez runnin......
        * Candidates make last filings for local, st......

        * Illinois Lt. Gov. Simon opposes pension le......
        * Dillard Odd Man Out on Pension Deal Reaction...
        * Sen. Mark Kirk sides with Rauner on pensio......
        * Governor's race infighting threatens pensi......
        * SCHOONERS - Home of Everyone's Favorite Be......

        * Today's Easter weekend message: "That's My King!"
        * New Illinois Republican Party leadership picked Wednesday night
        * The Chicago Dictionary: Volume Three
        * Mark Stefanik. It’s easy to speak up for teachers.
        * Rasmussen: ‘Gradually rolling back tax rates’ is a tax hike, plain and simple
        * Thorner: Anti-Amnesty rally planned in Chicago to oppose GOP leadership
        * Topinka reports income
        * 1000th same sex couple marries in Cook County
        * Alabama court rules the word "child" means born and unborn
        * 1,000th same sex couple marries in Cook County


        * Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action
        * Proposed Rules for Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act Filed
        * Adopt-A-Highway Spring Cleanup Begins Today - Annual Event Honors Earth Day, Tackles Roadside Litter After Harsh Winter
        * Illinois Schools Win No Child Left Behind Waiver - Federal Government Approves Flexibility Needed for Successful Implementation of State Strategies to Improve Student Learning
        * Illinois filmmakers invited to enter state’s Shortcuts competition - 7th year for Illinois Film Office contest honoring local talent




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