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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We’re getting some coverage lately. Peoria Journal Star

As some readers of this site are probably aware, one of the most comprehensive sites covering state politics and the Illinois Legislature — and aggregating stories from around the Land of Lincoln about the same topics — is Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax Blog.

The longtime watcher of Illinois government boasts a following that not only includes political junkies from around the state, but plenty of staffers in each of the three branches of government, not to mention plenty of elected officials (and wannabes) besides.

For the last several years Miller has let followers of his site weigh in on a series of awards — named Golden Horseshoes, after Springfield’s signature dish — that started as a jest but quickly became a serious annual competition. The experts who follow government are never shy about weighing in and justifying the people they believe to be deserving of these “best of the best” honors. (Miller makes the selections, but only after readers make their comprehensive arguments as to who deserves the awards.)

* Daily Herald

Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller and his commenting class has given its coveted Golden Horseshoe award to state Sen. John Millner of Carol Stream as the best GOP state senator. […]

The Golden Horseshoes are Miller’s annual awards that honor legislative staff, members and even local bartenders. They’re named after Springfield’s signature culinary contribution to humankind.

Maybe one day we’ll have to hold an awards ceremony or something.

* Anyway, on to our winners. The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson goes to Mica Matsoff who runs Gov. Quinn’s shop…

Interpreting Quinnspeak has to be a tough job and she does it well.

Her boss alone is reason enough to give her the award. That cannot be an easy gig, but she seems to enjoy it.

* Runner-up is Kelly Kraft at the budget office…

Does a good job expressing the administration’s budget positions when quite frankly they are hard to figure out. There are few reporters that don’t go to her and IMO she’s heads and shoulders about the other flaks on budget matters. Her background in reporting allows her to know what the reporters want and she is able to soften the all too often ugly budgetary news. It’s easy to see who the reporters look for, do a key word search and you’ll find her more frequently.

Kelly took a weekend call from me several days ago and she was whispering when she answered her phone. I asked if she was in a meeting, but she said she was putting a baby down for a nap (I think it was her niece or nephew, can’t remember though). That’s dedication, folks.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Agency Director goes to Catherine Shannon

Catherine Shannon, acting director at Historic Preservation. Canned at Labor earlier this year after doing, by all accounts a very good job, and then put in to a directorship outside her area of expertise (labor) and receiving rave reviews there now. Makes you wonder what Quinn was thinking.

Yes, it does. Catherine really got the shaft this year, but I’m glad to see her back in government service. She’s top notch.

* Runner-up is Malcolm Weems

I have to go with Malcolm Weems too. Not just because I find him attractive (which I do) or that he has a very pleasant personality (which he does) but he is one of the few people in the administration that follows up on things, gets back to you and gets the job done.

I’ve known Malcom for a long while and that commenter (who I also know) was dead on.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statewide Officeholder goes to Secretary of State Jesse White

Jesse White because he has integrity, raises morale, and runs a completely functional agency. Have you been to other states and tried to get a license? Choose Jesse White!

The man never ceases to amaze me.

* Runner-up is Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

When she started running for Comptroller, she said I’m back and boy is she ever. She is your kooky aunt that you love because she’s a straight shooter and makes the often scary GOP look just a little less crazy. JBT is a character in every sense of the word when that trait is lacking in our statewide officials. Her office his only out front when it needs to be and her other policy initiatives have been noble. The state would be a lot better off if other statewide leaders, especially the four tops would learn from her.

Fully agreed. The only reason JBT didn’t win was the lack of broad support, but that nomination alone just about did it for her.

* OK, on to today’s nominations. We have a new category today…

* Best chief of staff (legislative, statewide, congressional, etc.)

* Best state legislative staffer - non-political

* Best Illinois congresscritter

As always, please nominate in all three categories and fully explain your nominations. Just mentioning the person’s name won’t help at all. It’s about intensity, folks, not numbers. Have at it.


  1. - bored now - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 10:56 am:

    i can’t play on the first two because i won’t pretend i know anything about state legislative staff, but for best member of congress from illinois, i’d have to go for durbin. i’m always amazed when i hear democrats from downstate complain about illinois democrats because durbin is a power player on the biggest stage on earth (yeah, yeah, remember i’m not from illinois so i hardly have that bias that says illinois is the center of the universe, let alone that going to washington is a demotion). if you only have one statewide democrat as your regional representative, durbin would have to be the choice.

    when one considers that senator durbin is competing against the biggest mouth in d.c. (chuck schumer, for those who do think that illinois is the center of everything) and competes in his own, very, very midwestern way, quietly getting things done, gaining the respect of his fellow senators, delivering for his party. understated is not the same as lack of power. he’s a tremendous asset to illinois, even if that isn’t always recognized by politicians in the state.

    if i had to choose someone from the house, i’d choose peter roskam. i don’t think there’s a more conservative member from illinois, but he’s not a camera-hog or an extremist. a little different from durbin, roskam continues to rally his peeps and is mastering the nitty-gritty of the house. it won’t surprise me a bit to see roskam gain a real leadership role, and i’d be least surprised if he took over the nrcc chair soon. roskam is also a power player and it was no surprise he got the safest district on the gop side…

  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:00 am:

    Best chief of staff (legislative, statewide, congressional, etc.)Clearly Tim Mapes is at the top of the heap. Not only does he handle the COS job flawlessly, but he has assumed the Clerk’s duties without missing a beat AND in 2011 played some role in the first redisticting to be signed into law and upheld in court without going to the commission.

    * Best state legislative staffer - non-political- We would pick Jessica Basham. She has handled the most complex issues — taxes, bonds, capital, etc. None better.

  3. - dave - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    CoS- Manar- smart, talented, and did a very good job managing a very diverse caucus, desite the man hurdles in the way from the other chamber and the obstructonist opposing side of the aisle in the Senate.

    Staffer- Samantha Olds- might have the toughest job of any staffer: managing to deal with the biggest approp committee, and all of the lobbyists that go with it. Has a great handle of her programs and won’t take much crap.

    Congress- Durbin, by far.

  4. - 1776 - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:15 am:

    Best Chief of Staff goes to Scott Reimers who moved up seamlessly from staff director and has greatly enhanced the position. He is quietly and effectively helping Cross and the caucus be more effective.

    Staffer - I can’t disagree with Jessica but submit the nomination of Adam Margolin. He was fantastic in the Workers Comp negotiation and the UI debate, two of the biggest issues with the biggest players at the table.

    Congress - Mark Kirk.

  5. - bored with press - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:22 am:

    Can someone post an image of this attractive and pleasant Malcolm Weems, since these qualities partly brought him a victory?

  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:27 am:

    Try his LinkedIn page

  7. - TCB - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:28 am:

    =Can someone post an image of this attractive and pleasant Malcolm Weems, since these qualities partly brought him a victory?=

    Have you seen the movie “300?”

    He looks like Xerxes without all the bling…..seriously.

  8. - Raising Kane - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:34 am:

    Yeah, that picture doesn’t do him justice. Malcolm, can you please get us a better picture?


  9. - k3_Spfld_Chi - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    The Best Chief of Staff has to be Eric Rayman. He is the man behind the boy congress-critters. He led Shock’s initial primary and then smashed Halvorson with Kinzinger. He is also responsible for getting Kinzinger’s nice comm. assignments.

    Best non-political legislative person is probably Kim Janas from Sen Prez Office. She is stuck with the tough issues like workers comp, budget, etc. She is a fighter and a loves to make things happen.

    The best congress-critter is Kirk slightly over Durbin. You would think that Durbin would hold more power as the #2 but Kirk has shown is worth in the actual game of bargain and compromise and is more of a go to then Durbin these days.

  10. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:53 am:

    I’m voting for Dick Durbin as best congresscritter.

  11. - Twister - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    Best Chief has to go to Mr. Mapes. There has never been such a force in the capitol that holds the keys to control quite like him; and there will probably never be another that will rival that control.

    Best Legislative Staffers should go to John Hollman or Nick McNeely. They both work seamlessly with Democrats and Republicans, never letting the partisan nature of things get in the way of getting things done. Reg and Reg issues are their expertise and they do a splendid job of it.

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    People, explain your votes.

    Also, in order to stop the silliness so that we can move along, here are three hot Malcolm photos…

  13. - TCB - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:00 pm:

    @ raising Kane

    here is a little better picture from the CMS website

  14. - Juice - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:01 pm:

    Can we please stop with all of the Malcolm comments. Between this and all of the sympathy I’m sure he’s been getting because of the injury he faked during that basketball game, it’s just way too much to bear for the people who have to work with him.

  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:02 pm:

    Chief of Staff- Its really hard to argue against Mapes. He has been doing it for so long, without so much as a hiccup.

    Legislative Staff. Matt Paprocki. I wouldn’t want him dating my daughter, but I hope he is the analyst on my bill. He’s so insightful that he is a huge asset as a lobbyist. For my money, he is as good as it gets in the capitol.

    Congress- Dick Durbin

  16. - WizzardOfOzzie - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:05 pm:

    I must of clicked on the wrong link. I was looking for the Golden Horseshoe nominations but instead found some kind of weird, Beiber-like thread about Malcolm. As if his ego needed stroking…

  17. - Raising Kane - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:05 pm:

    Thanks for trying TCB but that is the same photo from his linked in. Now, Rich, on the other hand posted some excellent shots. For this I owe him drinks! And as a supplemental gift to Rich, I will drop the Malcolm is hot banter. But….enjoy those photos gals!!

  18. - southernillinois - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:20 pm:

    Best chief of staff: Andy Manar. He has proven time and again he can bring diverse people together and he has a sense of humor.
    Best legislative staff: Nia Odeoti-Hassen. She has been here a long time, knows a whole lot, and has always made herself accessible and easy to work with.
    Best D.C. person: without a doubt Dick Durbin. He knows so much about so many things and really seems to have a heart for the people he represents even when they dont agree with him.

  19. - JoeZ - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:24 pm:

    CoS- Nancy Kimme- strategic & politically savvy; also a great manager beloved by her staff. Top notch in all aspects.

    Congress- John Shimkus- a real leader in the delegation who is happy to often do the hard, behind-the-scenes work. Assembled a great staff too.

  20. - Springfield Skeptic - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:26 pm:

    SNARK: The heck with Malcolm. Who are the four babes with him in the last pic Rich put up?????

  21. - Springfield Skeptic - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:27 pm:

    Hope that doesn’t get me banned but it was to easy to pass up.

  22. - Old Guy - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    Best Chief of Staff: Tim Nuding. Quiet, behind the scenes. No drama. Knows the budget better than GOMB and CoGFA put together. State would be in a heck of a lot better position if he were running things.

    Best Legislative Staffer: This is a tough one. Not sure if she qualifies, but I’d have to say Jill Rock. Pleasant, hard worker. Despite the famous last name, no one could ever accuse her of not earning everything she’s gotten. Sorry to see her go.

    Best Congressperson: Peter Roskam, hands down. Brilliant, partisan but principled. He could and should be the fifth president from Illinois some day.

  23. - Charlie Sheen - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:40 pm:

    for chief of staff- Tim Mapes. Keeps people out of his bosses hair and spearheaded the renovation of the House floor and gallery which is absolutely beautiful.

    Legislative staffer- Matt Paprocki of House Repub staff. Besides being most knowledgeable in areas of finance and taxes and having to spearhead the recent Sears-CME issue for the caucus he is as pleasant as they come and admired by his colleagues for his team attitude and ability to make humorous mini-posters poking fun at various statehouse newsmakers of the day.

    Congresscritter- Aaron Schock. Easy to hate but hard to argue how quickly he has moved up the ladder in DC. A conservative that actually makes sense and can explain his issues surely there are bigger things to come from Aaron.

  24. - chad - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:50 pm:

    Best Chief is Craig Roberts for John Shimkus. Craig is simply the most knowledgeable and responsive Chief in the Illinois Delegation, and he is unfailingly courteous and prompt with everyone. Further, he has mentored an entire generation of chiefs in DC from both parties. He is the #1 go-to chief in the entire delegation.

    Legislative staffer - Frank Strauss on House Republican staff. He is the most informed on revenue issues at the Capitol, and quietly renders his thoughts to all who ask. He is serious and nerdy, but that adds to his overall effectiveness and charm. His analysis often carries the day with the other caucuses, as well as the second floor. You really have to make your case with this guy — everyone knows he will not accept BS. Lobbyists line-up outside his office to get his blessings.

    Best Congresscritter - It is easy to name Durbin, but I have become less impressed as the Democratic legislative agenda in the Senate continues to crater. Kirk has not yet taken-off in the Senate, and has a so-so staff. I am going for Roskam. He has a great staff (Moore and Mork), is fully levering his new leadership position to the advantage of the State and his policy interests, and puts an acceptable face on the conservative point of view. Relentless campagner — he plastered his recent opponents through hard work, and is fast building a network of officeholder-supporters through his leadership pac and travels. He is the guy the Obamans do not want to show up at WH meetings, as he is capable of letting the gas out of almost any balloon through his unflappable intelligence, and knows just how to handle the Chicago crowd. Finally, he has a great capability to sum up viewpoints through memorable slang that is just shy of being crass.

  25. - Borealis - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:54 pm:

    As to the post: Mapes even though he does what he does so well to clear the Speaker’s way…

    Legislative staffer: Jill Rock for the quiet capable way she handles the agenda and herself…good luck to her, Courtney, and their child…

    Congresscritter: Hands down Durbin. Despite his penchant for sometimes backpeddling on some of his own rhetoric, he works hard, doesn’t showboat and is humble to boot.

    BTW, I work next to CMS in JRTC and Malcolm is not only attractive, but capable in his post.
    We tease him alot since he hurt his leg in the SECA B ball tourney…he hobbles in daily…

  26. - no doubt - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:57 pm:

    More than any one person, Tim Mapes controls what happens under the dome day to day. He’s in his own class as a chief.

    Non-political staffer: Tyler Hunt flys under the radar. He’s very knowledgeable, easy to work with and hard not to like.

    Congress - I guess Durbin by default. The Illinois delegation is kinda weak these days.

  27. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 12:58 pm:

    COS - Whether you know it or not, everyone eventually works for Nancy Kimme. She and JBT have the kind of relationship you want an official to have with their Chief of Staff. Not to mention she’s one of a kind in the best sense possible.

    Legislative Staffer - Anon is right on about Paprocki. He’s one of the good guys. I also think Ron Holmes deserves some credit this year for all of his work on remap.

    Congresscritter - I agree with Old Guy: Roskam, but not for his politics. I also think Mark Kirk has proven himself this year. He’s done a lot of venturing downstate and his staff follows through on what they say they are going to do unlike Durbin’s people.

  28. - shore - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:04 pm:

    Congresscritter. I’d go with Kinzinger. The state has not produced many fresh new faces lately who you look at say there’s someone honest or someone who hasn’t been around forever and you actually look at and say this is someone who is really trying to do a good job. He’s found his way. Doesn’t go on tv and throw bombs and while he hasn’t pushed any key pieces of legislation yet, I’ve been impressed with his energy, willingness to learn on the job and positive tone.

    I considered Roskam but he and Durbin have been leadership lieutenants in the most unpopular session of congress since they started polling several decades ago so they are out.

  29. - Shooter McGavin - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:16 pm:

    COS - Mapes without question. Like many have said above, when you’ve been doing it for as long as he has, it’s hard not to become the best.

    Legislative staffer - Matt Paprocki with the House GOP. Matt gets both the policy and the politics, and his desire to help out everyone has always been impressive. His lack of shaving is compensated for his hard work and unique ability to the process. So often staffs are inundated with political science majors, it is extremely helpful to have an accountant that understands the policy, but equally important, the numbers. On several occasions I have seen him dig deep into the actual effects of legislation/budget process, only to have the numbers altered later because of his knowledge.

    Congresscritter - Mark Kirk for his willingness to work across the aisle and his expertise in foreign policy. As a freshman senator, he’s added a lot to the conversation.

  30. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:18 pm:

    Chief of Staff: Manar over Mapes for the same reasons I like Johnny Carson more than Joseph Stalin.

    Best legis staffer: Sticking with the Senate Dems, gotta be budget director Kristin Richards. I think she could whip all of GOMB with one hand tied behind the budget book — both physically and intellectually. Certainly not your typical pale, grey statehouse budget wonk.

    Best IL Congresscritter: Can’t believe I’m about to type this: T I M J O H N S O N. What kind of world do we live in where Tim Johnson is one of the sane members of Congress? Mega props for not wasting time with the remap stunts, not being in lockstep with anyone’s leadership and not being afraid to question whether the war has been worth it.

  31. - ZZ is Tops - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    Best legislative staffer goes to Matt Paprocki. He is a walking Illinois tax policy handbook and is very knowledgeable about most other subjects as well. Not to mention he is a modern renaissance man. Matt invented the skinny tie. He is a level-9 bongo drummer. And, he fixes up run down tandems in his spare time. Is there anything cat can’t handle?

  32. - National Treasure - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:41 pm:

    Chief of Staff: Has to go to Scott Reimers. Not only has he recently moved up the ranks, which is well deserved, he has continued to be a leader for all the Republican Representatives. He legitimately cares for his staff and it shows in his work.

    Best Staffer: Matt Paprocki. You may know matt as the fun guy to get a drink with, as guy whose smile makes women weak at the knees, or as an exquisite ballroom dancer, but I know Matt as a hard worker who handles the workload of many. Whether its on the House floor on in committee, Matt runs the show and the House Republicans are better for it.

    Congresscritter: Durbin, why not, right?

  33. - Boutros Boutros Boutros Ghali - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:42 pm:

    Chief of Staff: We may have just gotten to the point where we may need to start considering naming this award after Mapes.

    I have to agree with the reasons above and cast my vote for Matt “The Rock” Paprocki. Any man that has to deal with Rep. David Harris in the House Revenue Committee on a daily basis (let alone can has his respect and can keep him in check) has my vote. Enough said.

    Congresscritter: Old Guy and Dirty Red have it right, Roskom is solid.

  34. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:43 pm:

    My vote for the best chief of staff is Kyle Ham, the COS for Treasurer Rutherford. Anyone who has been around the Treasurer knows he’s his own man who does his own thing and says whatever he wants, which can make the job of his COS a tough one. Kyle keeps everyone on task and does a good job of ensuring the Treasurer keeps a balanced schedule. That may seem easy but it’s much tougher when applied in principle.

    My vote for best non-political staffer is Sarah Wojcicki (sorry, can’t remember her new last name). She is a breath of fresh air at the Capitol and obviously deals with a very diverse caucus. She also kicked serious butt in her bid to be elected to the Springfield Park District board. I think the sky is the limit for her.

    The best Congressperson is Aaron Schock. Aaron is all over the place in his current and new district. He has built a national profile so fast that most rank-and-file MOCs would only dare to dream of that success. He raises money hand-over-fist and looks like a clear contender for either the seat currently held by Senator Durbin or the Illinois governor’s mansion.

  35. - 10th Indy - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:44 pm:

    COS - Eric Elk at Sen Kirk. He led a quick transition from campaign to official, brought on effective staff, focused his boss on key issues in dc and on visiting communities through-out the state - all with the same blend of humor, snark and behind the scenes coalition building that made for a successful campaign.

    Congresscritter - Kirk. Thanks to Elk (see above).

  36. - ISHOPMICHAVE2 - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:46 pm:

    Thanks to Brook Stewart (House Repub. Staff) for her efforts on Higher Ed this year. She had a lot on her plate and handled it well. She will be missed. Congrats on your promotion, Brook!

  37. - Howdy - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 1:58 pm:

    COS - Tim Nuding for Senate Republicans. He is always level headed and knows the budget better than anyone in the building.

    Non-Political Staffer - Andrew Freigheit from House Republicans b/c he is thorough, knows his stuff, and easy to work with.

    Congresscritter - I’m with Old Man, Roskam hands down. That guy can cut you off at the neck and leave you smiling about it. Amazing.

  38. - PQ's Primary Opponent - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    Chief: Mapes/ Does it the right way, sticks to the Speaker’s agenda
    Staff: The recently retired Louie Mossos of the Sen. Dems
    Congressman: Roskam/ a quick rise to leadership, and deals with those wacky tea party dudes.

  39. - Central - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    COS Tim Mapes – effective- how can you not vote for him?

    Legislative staffer Ben Winick on the Governor’s legislative team - understands the budget, executive branch and the legislative process better than any other staffer

    Durbin – his seniority alone benefits Illinois

  40. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:21 pm:

    COS: Mapes, he does it all smmothly, with aplomb, for a very trickery boss.
    Staffer: Jessica Basham, only person around who can deal equally effectively with smart numbers folk, and dim legislators.
    Congress: Durbin, in addition to being nationally powerful, he is a kind and toughtful human being.

  41. - Been Around a While - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:24 pm:

    COS — You have to consider Tim Nuding for his depth of knowledge and approachable, down-to-earth personality. But watch for Dave Gross to be nominated next year for the same traits…but he’ll own the play book.
    Legislative Staffer — Staci Wilson,SGOP. Staffing Executive Committee from the minority is a tough job she handles smoothly. Her members are all clearly well-prepared.
    Congress — Veterans around here love watching Peter Roskam. His wit, style and principles havent changed.

  42. - Because I say so... - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    Durbin-he is always prepared and well versed on a number of issues. He is a truly genuine and nice person who cares. He has proven himself and that’s why he is in leadership.

  43. - Central Please..... - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    Staffer - I politely disagree with Central when you say Mr. Winnick understands the budget and legislative process better than any other staffer. I think Mr. Winnick deserves to be nominated, but to say that he understands the budget/legislative process more than John Lowder, Kristin Richards, Jessica Basham or John Holman is a stretch. John Lowder has been the top budget guy for over a decade. Anyways, my vote goes to Jessica Basham. I love all the love Matt Paprocki has received as it is well deserved, but Jessica (heir apparent as HDEM research/approp director if/when it becomes vacant) is about as steady and reliable as the trees that line the sidewalk between Monroe Street and the North entry way into the Capitol building. She puts in ridiculous hours, she’s responsible for understanding and explaining extremely complicated legislation and she does it all with grace. If she has never won this award, this is her time.
    Chief of staff - Surprised they still take nominations as it was said earlier, might as well name this the Tim Mapes award. The man works his tail off. The media scrutinized his salary in recent reports, but I wouldn’t take that job at twice his salary.
    Federal - Durbin, I agree with Central on his point.

  44. - nationaljournal - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 2:55 pm:

    Best COS- I’m going to break it down to state and congressional. For state, hands-down, it’s Tim Mapes. Gets stuff done and wicked smart. For congressional, it’s gotta be Eric Elk. Snarky, sarcastic, but a master of media and politics.

    Member of Congress — Cong. Jerry Costello. A fantastic politican who has won time and again, delivers for his district, and has taken leadership roles in Congress. A real congressional leader who takes care of the home front. To top it off, Jerry is a great guy that everybody likes personally.

  45. - downstate gal - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:01 pm:

    Best chief of staff has got to be Tim Nuding, Senate Republicans. His staff loves him, his members listen to him, and leaders and legislators in other caucuses also respect his budget expertise.
    Best legislative staffer: Staci Wilson, Senate Republicans. She can whip through a 200-page gaming amendment on a one-hour posting and have her members sounding like experts. She is very well respected by her colleagues in all caucuses.
    Best congresscritter: Peter Roskam. He has risen amazingly quickly in D.C. due to his intellect and work ethic. Sure miss hearing his movie analogies on the Illinois Senate floor!

  46. - Lifer - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:05 pm:

    COF - Mapes, no contest. He oversees everything in the House without micromanaging. He never misses a beat and keeps House Dems the reigning force in State politics.

    Staffer - I’ll give the win to Matt Paprocki. If the State had more accountants working on revenue and appropriations, our future would look a lot brighter right now. Plus, he is never forgets to return a phone call and always finds the time to meet with you & discuss a bill. That goes a long way in my world.

    Congress - tough call but I’ll go with Kirk. He’s surpassed my expectations during his short tenure.

  47. - Spellchecker - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:06 pm:

    CoS- Lavin. Seems like an unlikely choice, I know, but as someone who worked in the GO, he by far is thorough, even tempered and surrounds himself by intelligent advisors. He’s been around forever, through LOTS of politicians. There is a reason- he gets the job done.

    Staffer- Matt Paprocki. He has a a huge responsibility handling the Revenue Committee bills and analysis and budget memos, yet he is always volunteering to help friends and colleagues (he is the assistant staffer for the pension committee). Plus, he makes a mean opponent in tennis.

    Congressman- wish I could say more. But, I’m a female, so I’ll go with Schock, for obvious reasons. I know, I don’t have a chance. ;)

  48. - WizzardOfOzzie - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:09 pm:

    Chief of Staff-

    Tim Mapes: He’s smart, understand politics, knows every issue necessary inside and out, and keeps food off the House floor.

    Best Staffer-

    Lindsay Anderson (Quinn’s legislative director): She is kind, smart, organized and has an almost impossible job. The Governor has his issues but the legislative accomplishments over the last 3 years are pretty significant. When the Governor is able to focus in on a big issue, it usually gets done and that’s thanks to Lindsay. Not one to take credit for herself, she definitely deserves it.

    Best Congressman/woman-

    We lost some pretty good ones last year. I’ll go with Durbin. Majority Leader of the US Senate and he does what he can to help keep the Democratic party of Illinois going without much interest or support from the actual Democratic Party of Illinois.

    Sen. Kirk is also a good choice. Well respected in DC, the last of dying breed of moderate Republican in Illinois.

  49. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:12 pm:

    Sorry, about 2:21 above. My spelling seems to have joined my typing ability on vacation.

  50. - winnnn - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:15 pm:

    COS- Andy Manar, for all the reasons stated above and for the fact he treats his staff like family and doesn’t play favorites. Everyone starts with a clean slate, despite their past.

    Best Staffer: Kristin Richards- she is smart and intense. She was able to hold her own in the Senate Dems “all boys club” and who can’t admire that.

    Congress- Durbin, simply because he is a beast and he knows it.

  51. - DC Carpetbagger - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:30 pm:

    Best chief of staff—Scott Reimers for Tom Cross. Despite being brand new to the position he hasn’t missed a step in balancing policy, politics, and the minority caucus. He has a great grasp of all the issues and is Tom’s go-to guy.

    Legislative staffer—Matt Paprocki. Really unparalleled in his knowledge of revenue and pension issues. Plus he crosses party lines and gets along with everyone. I have to disagree with ZZ Is Tops that Matt invented that skinny tie—David Dring was rocking that way before Vampire Weekend—but you have to respect a guy who isn’t afraid to put his bromance on display on a tandem.

    Congressman—Aaron Schock. Totally committed to doing what’s in the best interest of his district and this state. Smart guy who actually understands and is able to explain the issues. And it’s undisputed that he looks better with his shirt off (or on) than Barney Frank.

  52. - More Courage - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:39 pm:

    COS - Nuding. Ever sit in a meeting with the guy? Most prepared guy in the room, able to explain technical issues in terms even a State Senator can understand. Knows more about the state budget than probably any other person around. Period. People would be talking of naming this award after him if the state was more politically competitive.

    Staffer - Samantha Olds. Zero to sixty without a flinch on some of the most difficult issues under the dome. But let me add - If political staffers deserve 4 separate horseshoes then so do nonpolitical staffers. Tons of talent in this category.

    Congress - Kirk. Solid leader. Even though flaws exist I would have no problem trusting him to shape the policies that will shape our nation in future years.

  53. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:42 pm:

    Can’t comment on the first two, but I have to go with Roskam for the third–for all the reasons everyone else has stated. Biggest “likes”: He’s confident enough to deal with his constituents openly and honestly by providing them with the *information* they need to decide whether they agree OR disagree with him. He explains ALL sides of the issue, uses a “therefore” to preface where he stands, and then goes into the related process, obstacles he’s facing, how constituents can help him to help them, etc. And, he welcomes questions/comments based on opposing viewpoints, obviously considering the feedback because he restates the question/comment and then provides a direct (yet polite) response. It’s almost like dealing with someone in the business world, where methodology and facts matter.

    Therefore, you always know where Roskam stands on an issue–and while you might not always agree with him, you always understand why HE stands where he does because he shares the LOGIC that he used to draw his conclusions. And, as bored now said, he doesn’t spend most of his time in front of a camera–sending mixed messages to keep his ratings high.

  54. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:49 pm:

    lol Howdy made another point about Roskam that I forgot about. He’s certainly not a wimp.

  55. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    Peter Roskam. Few people realize what he does behind the scenes in Congress. Furthermore, Peter works with and supports young staffers so they reach their potential. Lastly, he has a lovely wife, Elizabeth who is one of the most supportive political spouses I’ve seen.

    An I disqualified since I know of nobody in the other categories?

  56. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:02 pm:

    I’m glad Cinci said it so I didn’t have to be the first this time, but I’ll repeat it anyway. Roskam’s greatest asset: Mrs. Roskam.

  57. - bardo - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:03 pm:

    CoS - Jack Lavin. He does a solid job, has a big heart, and let’s face it….it ain’t easy running the circus that is Pat Quinn’s world.

    Leg Staff — Admittedly, I don’t have a strong sense here but I’ll go along with Kristin Richards. She’s always helpful.

    Congress — Easy call. It’s Durbin — for all the obvious reasons. Simply the best at what he does.

  58. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:08 pm:

    Chief of Staff: Andy Manar, Senate Dems. Cool-headed, organized and knows his stuff. A stand-up guy.

    Staffer: Andy Munemoto with the SDems policy and budget staff. Really smart guy, who is relied upon frequently, works hard, and never complains.

    Congress: Durbin. He’s a leader in the Senate and his constituent services are top notch.

  59. - FashionTech - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:13 pm:

    CoS - Mr. Tim Mapes without question! He runs the tightest ship in often choppy waters

    Staffer - We should call him Adam MarGolden. Adam is an amazing staffer. He writes well, has a great relationship with Members, and just plain ol’ knows his stuff. This guy is going places…great places. What an asset to the Speaker’s Staff

    Congresscritter - Durbin for sure. He’s always on the job, innovative, leads well, and is open minded.

  60. - Adam For Horseshoe - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:21 pm:

    Chief of Staff: Tim Mapes. I echo all the previous nominations — there’s nobody more effective.

    Staffer: Adam Margolin. Five years he’s been quietly working on some of the most visible issues of each year. He’s calm, level-headed, and with a solid legal mind that takes other lawyers years to develop. He can really get to the heart of an issue, and get problems resolved before they ever really become problems. You may never know that Adam worked on an issue — you’ll just know that it was done right, and right on time. He will be missed!

    Congress: Durbin. He’s tenacious and forceful, but not immune to reason.

  61. - Charlie Sheen - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:26 pm:

    COS : Clearly has to Mr. Mapes. Runs a very tight ship down in 300. Winning !!The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning !!

    Staffer : Adam Margolin : One of the hardest working young lawyers in Illinois Politics.

  62. - City Slicker - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:29 pm:

    Chief of Staff- Tim Mapes, Clearly

    Congress- Durbin

    Beyond a doubt, this would have to go to Adam Margolin. The sheer knowledge this guy has is uncanny. From tax and revenue issues, to everything else in between, he definitely knows his stuff. He always manages to fly under the radar, which is pretty much how he likes it. He has been part of the leading force behind the Speaker’s staff for years now and is definitely someone to watch for in the upcoming years.

  63. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:32 pm:

    Chief Staff - Mapes. No question. Nothing happens under the Dome without him either knowing about it or doing it himself. I don’t always agree with his style, but there is no doubting the man gets things done.

    Staffer - Adam Margolin. To echo AdamForHorseshoe, he rarely gets the credit he deserves because he makes no fuss about even the most difficult assignments. If you’re ever wondering why a complex issue might be moving along more smoothly than you would think, chances are Adam Margolin is the one behind the scenes.

    Congress - Durbin. The man is sensible and tough, yet open-minded and willing to listen to varying interests, even when they might be against his own.

  64. - LawyerLady - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:38 pm:

    CoS-Tim Mapes. He’s the best nagivator to those driving the bus.

    Staffer-Adam Margolin. He’s a great person, great mentor, and knows his stuff. It’s rare to find someone who is willing to take on so many difficult tasks and does them all well. He’s been an asset to the Speaker’s Staff and will be missed.

    Congress- Durbin. He speaks his mind but isn’t so focused that he can’t work with everyone.

  65. - Is it Friday yet? - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 4:48 pm:

    COS - Tim Mapes. He is incredibly smart and knows how to keep things moving on the floor. I have to agree with others that this award should probably be named after him.

    Staffer - Lindsay Anderson - Ditto on previous comments. Lindsay is incredibly professional and kind to everybody she meets despite the tough issues she is faced with in the GO. She will be missed this spring.

    MOC - Durbin. The man is very thoughtful and a true leader in D.C. I also have always liked his staff.

  66. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:00 pm:

    COS - Tim Mapes, of course.
    Staffer - Adam Margolin, he’s great to work with, always a calming influence, and gets stuff done!

  67. - Spring - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:03 pm:

    cos-lavin- pat quinn is his boss, end of argument
    congressperson- lipinski-a true red democrat, just like his voters

  68. - Four Red Stars - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:10 pm:

    Chief of Staff - Tim Mapes - Year in and year out, there is one staff in the statehouse that stands out above the rest; and that is in no small part to that staff’s leader, Tim Mapes.

    Non-Political Staffer - Adam Margolin - No one ever really wants to tackle a tough issue, especially when getting an agreement on that issue seems to be a fools errand. The exception is Adam Margolin. I don’t know if he enjoys the big, tough issues, but he certainly takes them on and does tremendous work for the House Dems. He will surely be missed in the south wing of the Capitol.

    Congress - Durbin - Someone needs to rein in Harry Reid sometimes. I’m proud to say that individual is from my state, and his name is Durbin.

  69. - itsmyopinion - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:17 pm:

    * No doubt the most effective Chief of Staff is Tim Mapes. He always gets it done. Thing is, I am guessing Mapes doesn’t care if he wins this award. So, I vote for giving it to another great chief of staff. Andy Manar does good work and is an all around professional and good guy.

    * Hands down the best political staffer is John Hollman. If you don’t know Hollman, it’s because he’s a man of few words. He has major responsibilities on the House side and does it all quietly and effectively. I hate to do this to you, John, but I just dare you to find something that John Hollman doesn’t know about the legislative process. He is the go to guy for new staff, and you’ll find a line of new staffers with dumb questions at his door during budget times (this while he’s trying to write the actual budget)! I could fill this comment box with the responsibilities he juggles and the projects he organizes during session (rules, budget, capital bill issues) but I’m not sure he would want me to publicize too widely. He’s the perfect House staffer. He does his job incredibly well and keeps his mouth shut about almost all of it.

    * Durbin leads instead of follows. So he’s my pick.

  70. - MarineMan - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:27 pm:

    COS- Manar. He is well respected by staff and members alike. He is smart and has an excellent strategic mind.

    Staffer- Louie Mosses. Has been the President’s trusted advisor for a multitude of high profile issues including gaming expansion and tenaska, among others. Other members have also relied on his advice. He is politically savvy and has a bright future. SDEMs will miss him.

    Congress- Durbin. Classic statesman.

  71. - Captain Hawkeye Pierce - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 5:51 pm:

    So are all of Paprocki’s friends going to nominate him like Mahoney’s friends did last week?

  72. - Stay Gold - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:02 pm:

    Best COS - Tim Nuding is one of the smartest, most hard working people under the dome.

    Best Staffer - Gotta go with Brook Stewart. Always went above and beyond for the House Repubs, and with great spirit. Best of luck to her.

    Best Congresscritter - Dick Durbin is a workhorse and fights to the death for his constituents.

  73. - c'mon man - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:04 pm:

    captain, you should know how this works by now…and besides mahoney and paprockis friends are the same group of guys.

  74. - GoldenMargolin - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:24 pm:

    Chief of Staff: Mapes. You have to give kudos to all of the Chiefs because it’s a tough job. But Mapes wears so many hats, it’s hard to think of him as just the chief. His touches are all over the Capitol. From the renovated chambers to the current west wing project. The man is passionate about what he does.

    Legislative staffer: People always forget the lawyers!! Adam Margolin and Heather Wier from the Speaker’s Office work on all the hot issues. They’ve been a dynamic duo for Ellis for the past 5 years, and you can be sure that the Speaker’s Office will feel the impact of Margolin’s departure. Margolin has been the go-to guy for the members for a long time. He masters every issue he works on and knows the insides and outs of the legislative process. His writing is masterful, and it isn’t uncommon to find other staffers and lobbyists copy his description of a bill. He is a terrific lawyer, but more than that, he’s a terrific person. His shoes are impossible to fill.

  75. - Captain Hawkeye Pierce - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:37 pm:

    C’mon Man: I know. It’s not quite as obvious when others do it. “Not only can he quote 35 ILCS 5/103 by heart, but women toss their underwear at him as he heads into Senate Executive Committee!” Might be time for some new material. Or at least a new sentence structure.


    Chief of staff: Yes, Mapes seems like the obvious choice. But I object to him for the same reason as naming a public relations award after Steve Brown seems counterintuitive. Congratulations guys, your boss has an terrible public image and is regarded as a petty dictator. I’ll take Manar. The guy is a smart, up and comer who helps Cullerton pursue policy objectives that aren’t always completely about politics. And he clearly doesn’t want to spend his career holding some politician’s bag.

    Staffer: I never heard lawmakers heap praise on a staffer more than the Senate Dems did upon Amanda Wallen during the time when the education reform bill was being crafted.

    Congress: Flaherty made a decent case for Tim Johnson. Problem is, Johnson towed the Republican Party line on the Iraq War when vocally dissenting Republicans or Democrats might have meant something and have been indicative of true political courage. Dick Durbin had it back then. For that and his position as de-facto state Democratic chairman for a party that needs one, give him the nod.

  76. - Horseshoe Voter - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:39 pm:

    CoS: Andy Manar. On top of things and always nice to his staff. It will be sad to see him go.

    Staffer: John Hollman. Incredibly organized and informed, but not too busy to help answer questions from the interns. I think he was runner-up last year, and this is his year to take the prize.

  77. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:39 pm:

    Chief of Staff - Tim Mapes is the master. Knows the who/what/where/why of every moving piece of legislation.

    Nonpolitical staffer - Adam Margolin from House Dem Legal goes the extra mile, deals with other people well, and is brought enough to handle the complicated, important issues.

    Congress - Durbin.

  78. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 6:48 pm:

    Funny comment about the Madigan image. Most clear thinkers know that comes largely from those who are jealous and think efforts to perform the tear down will make them feel better.
    Be happy, its the holidays and you got a ‘Shoe for your guy Skip.

  79. - NewtothePostingGame - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 7:07 pm:

    Best Chief of Staff: Nancy Kimmie for best chief of staff because she can strike fear into your heart while showing you massive amounts of compassion, kindness and loyalty all at the same time. She is one of the best long term strategist in the game and is a walking encyclopedia of Illinois state and political knowledge.

    Best Congressman: Peter Roskam. He delivers a solid message without pulling you to far to the right in political rhetoric but clearly knows how to ‘get stuff done’ in DC being in leadership.

  80. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 7:19 pm:

    COS - Mapes. Its been said above, but when you’ve been doing it for an eternity, you should be the best.

    Staffer- Matt Paprocki. His efficiency and competency is unparalleled. Matt is also good in a bind. He knows everything there is to know about finance and tax legislation, but has enough knowledge about everything else to be a huge asset.

    Congress - Dold. Great freshman year.

  81. - Tough Guy - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 7:23 pm:

    Chief of Staff- Andy Manar. Personable, bright and friendly. Down to earth guy.
    Congress-Dick Durbin hard working and sincere in helping the little guy. Fortunate to have a great wife and adviser Loretta (we benefit too).

  82. - Cannon - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 9:01 pm:

    COS - Scott Reimers, rose through the ranks to his well deserved position.

    Staffer - Matt Paprocki, if everyone on the HR Staff knew their field like Paprocki does they wouldn’t be in the minority.

    Congress - Aaron Schock, just for his Men’s Health cover.

  83. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 9:04 pm:

    COS - Mapes. He does it all and that organization sets the standard, and he runs yet like nobody business. His passion for his work and his commitment are unmatched - from the capitol building to the committees, and this year as Clerk.

    Non-political staffer - Gotta go with Margolin. He is very hard working, smart and stays below the radar. Shout out to Heather and Jessica, they are all stars as well.

    Congress - Durbin, #2 in US Senate and doesn’t forget folks back at home.

  84. - Booger - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 9:29 pm:

    Two runner up nods - Come on Rich… Today will crack the gold standard.

    Chief - Nuding started as a Senate page if my memory serves me correctly. Now the Chief, that speaks volumes, respect the fact he’s chosen to be a family an and not get caught up in the endless cycle of political campaigns but that does not mean he does not understand them. He’s likely the only Chief of Staff who knows every in and out of the budget. He can forecast ahead and know with some credibility that we are in deep trouble fiscally. His employees are his priority and protects them and the institution of the Senate.

    Congressional - Shimkus/Costello, with little fanfare they’ve quietly rising within the ranks. They are not a show horse like others who are flashy or need to be in the limelight. Say what you want about the two, but at a time when you don’t know which party will control Congress. Those two get it done and the region is better off for having that one-two combo.

    Staffer - Nancy Dollison, she is the revenue committee in the Senate. She has done it for a long time and had a minority spokesperson, who is not easy to deal with. Anyone who has been around the Statehouse for a while knows Illinois revenue code is not simple or easy, it’s takes time to understand Nancy is the best.

  85. - CapFax Fan - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 10:10 pm:

    COS - Jay Curtis, Chief of Staff for Department of Natural Resources. I’m surprised he hasn’t been mentioned yet. Sure, Jay can’t rival Mapes with respect to years of experience, but I think that’s exactly why he should be the winner. Jay has (almost) single handedly turned his agency around by forming professional relationships with members and DNR stakeholders in a short time. Not only is Jay COS, but he runs his agency without a legislative director and does it himself. Maybe most importantly, Jay has turned morale around at an agency where budget problems can’t be described adequately in this space. He is smart, talented, humble, caring and innovative. Jay brings an energy and passion to finding solutions for difficult problems in ways state government doesn’t normally consider. He is by far the best choice.
    Staffer - Adam Margolin, Speaker’s legal staff, no question. Adam is everything everyone else already said: extremely sharp, courteous, knowledgable about the law, a great teacher, dedicated and will be a great asset in any role.
    Congress - Durbin. Because he continues to take on an issue that is slowly becoming the next big American crisis: Student Loans.

  86. - easypicks - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 10:39 pm:

    Congress: John Shimkus - he does his job behind the scenes and leads without grandstanding. Not to mention he has put together a staff that is always accessible and professional from top to bottom. The Illinois delegation is not short on opportunists, Shimkus is refreshingly focused on the job.

    Legislative: Peg Mosgers - she was an institution with the Senate Republicans and now does legislation for Judy Baar. She can work with anyone and manages to keep her smile regardless of who she is talking to. There is a lot to be said for knowing your stuff AND being pleasant.

    COS: Nancy Kimme - she was instrumental in defining the office of Treasurer, and is now doing the same with Comptroller - crazy that she has directed TWO constitutional offices so effectively. She is unfailingly loyal to her boss and staff without ever losing sight of the well-being of the state. She might just have the biggest heart in Springfield…but don’t ever let her catch you saying that.

  87. - Fantasma - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 10:58 pm:

    COS - Hands down, Tim Mapes. Tim has managed to keep the House Dems running like a well oiled machine. In addition, he helps run the political side of the organization without skipping a beat. The man is one of the most organized people I know. Plus, he puts in extremely long hours, and has for years.

    Staffer: Adam Margolin. Adam flies under the radar and has for years. He’s soft spoken and he always knows his stuff (kind of like his boss). He’s also negotiated some of the biggest pieces of legislation over his years at the state house. He’s never too busy to answer a question from a lobbyist and always has a pleasant demeanor (which isn’t always easy to do). He’s also a very hard worker, and it’s not uncommon to find him in his office long after most other staffers have left for the night.

    US – Durbin. The man has been around for so long, and how can you go wrong with voting for the man who lead the fight to outlaw smoking on airlines!

  88. - Orange and Blue - Tuesday, Dec 20, 11 @ 11:04 pm:

    Chief of Staff- Have to go with Andy Manar. No caucus is as diverse and complex as the Senate Dems, and he helps Cullerton handle them perfectly. Mapes does a great job, but let’s face it, in the end of the day whatever Madigan says goes regardless of the Chief of Staff. Andy is a great, down to earth guy that welcomes anyone into his office regardless of their title or issue. He will be missed.

    Best staffer- Louis Mossos. One of the Senate Dems top guys, and was invaluable on the Smart Grid legislation.

    Best Congressmen-have to go with Durbin. Hasn’t lost sight of being a downstate guy and still manages to do pretty well in bringing home the bacon for Illinois. He’s the go to guy not only in Illinois politics, but also in DC.

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