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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 19, 2014

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to the late Bill Luking

He completed the 2014 session and did more in those 5 months than most of us get done in our careers. Finishing the session totally makes him eligible for this nom. He left us all too soon, but there’s no comparing to him. When you have information readily in your mind like Google, there’s no rival. He was admired, treated everyone like his best friend. And was always willing to teach the technical aspects of this craft in addition to the social musts. Unforgettable.

Nobody deserves it more than Bill.

* The 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Derek Blaida

He worked relentlessly regardless of whether those employing him listened to his sage advice or not. He is respectful of everyone inside and outside of the Capitol community and conducts himself in the right way. There was not a more honorable or gracious In-House lobbyist this year given what Derek had to deal with. He deserves recognition not only for his efforts but for his good heart in a business that sometimes is lacking in that department.

* On to this morning’s categories, with last year’s winners in parentheses…

* The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider (Dave Vite)

* The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson (Patti Thompson)

Make sure to explain your vote, please, and nominate in both categories. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 8:47 am:

    I haven’t weighed in on the awards this year, but I’d like to offer up some possible “insider” nominees for your consideration.

    1) Nancy Kimme - Her crew ended up essentially taking over Bruce Rauner’s campaign. Rauner is now relying on her knowledge to fill thousands of state jobs.

    2) Greg Baise - The old guard was suspicious of Rauner, to say the least, but Baise jumped in with both feet and committed bigtime resources to the campaign. He and his group are in a very strong position right now as Rauner takes over.

    3) Tom Cullen - Strong ties to MJM, and Stand for Children lobster, a group that was brought to Illinois by Rauner.


  2. - Team Sleep - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    Nancy Kimme should win the award hands-down. I sincerely hope that the next Comptroller keeps her on as a senior adviser - if not chief of staff.

    My vote for best press staffer is Mike Schrimpf. He gets dogged a lot on here, but the dude was writing releases and laying out an all-encapsulating media plan for a first-time candidate who many rightly noted could often times not stay out of his own way. I know he was paid handsomely and landed a choice gig, but he clearly had his work cut out for him and make the best chicken salad out of the not-so-yummy parts of the chicken.


  3. - low level - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    Tom Cullen. Not only knows his stuff and works very hard, but also he remains a trusted friend and mentor to many who once worked with / for him.


  4. - A guy... - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:31 am:

    It’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving than Nancy Kimme. All of those you cite are deserving, but in Nancy’s case I’d ask, “under unbelievable circumstances, who has ‘ever’ shown more grace than she has?” No one. That’s who.


  5. - Can never compete - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    I would nominate Cullen without prompting in a second. He has his tendrils spread throught the Cap and if there’s something he doesn’t know, he surely has a way to find out. Strong ties to MJM is an understatement, and unstated are his nearly-equal strong ties to Cullerton. Partners with one of the finest people under the dome, Mona Martin, and crosses the aisles with ease. And if you’ve worked with and/or for him and done your part, he’ll be there to support and help you forever. A fine gentleman and a friend.


  6. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    Nancy is the best insider, and also exactly the kind of insider we need.


  7. - Knome Sane - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    While I think Nancy Kimme (who is terrific, BTW), will be the run-away winner, I think her influence will be better felt over the coming year as she guides the newbie Governor around the capitol. Yes, she guided Rauner’s hand in the campaign and through the transition, but that’s not necessarily “Statehouse Insider”, more like “campaign insider”.

    I echo those who nominate Tom Cullen. Tom has been one of the most even-tempered people under the dome since his days as Issues Director. He never has an unkind word about anyone (usually) and he — like the Speaker — sees around corners and curves (meaning he anticipates how different scenarios might play out).

    Tom has had a hand in getting more Democrats elected to the House Dem caucus than anyone in recent memory. During election season, he works in the field, usually behind the scenes, but he knows how to get people elected. He has the pulse on the state’s political heartbeat and, more importantly, he has the Speaker’s ear. That and staff respects him, too.


  8. - Gooner - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    The nomination for Best Campaign Spokesman goes to Dave Clarkin. The race at times seemed like a mess, but Dave seemed to hold things together and proved to be a trusted and reliable force. That campaign was floundering for a while, but he seemed to help correct things and helped deliver a win that seemed very unlikely a month before the election.

    In addition, his reports during the vote counting proved extremely accurate and reliable. A campaign spokesman is a mouthpiece and an advocate, but he/she must also deliver reliable information. Dave did both of those things very well.


  9. - Just Saying - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    Baise, hands down. Anyone who has accomplished what he has over decades and remains at the top of the juggernaut should be given an Insider Hall of Fame Award.

    Plus, who else has the stones to personally sue a sitting governor (Blago)…and win?


  10. - Tom - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    Without a doubt, my friend Nancy should win this. While not always agreeing with the Rauner people, she threaded the needle and helped guide him to victory. Smart, knowledgeable and can run a campaign like no other. The other great quality about Nancy–if she doesn’t like you–you know it! No beating around the bush.


  11. - walker - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    Greg Baise turned battleships around, and won both on substance and skill. That’s a good nominee.

    For best campaign spokesperson, it’s hard to argue with Schrimpf. I hope he can change his tune to be more appropriate as an officeholder spokesperson. They require two different tones. One’s a battler, the other’s a peacemaker.


  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    Tybor tybor tybor


  13. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    * The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider

    When discussing the term “insider” the best way to sum up that term probably is “someone who can easily navigate an industry and know how the business works, and who makes its work”

    Now, there are insiders, then on that very small circle, there are those whom the insiders point to and seek out to find their own answers. The insiders’ insider. The ones that aren’t filling the inside, but are making happen what happens inside.

    Nancy Kimme is in that very small elite insider circle whose decisions and movements dictate outcomes and shape future events. Her counsel is sought, because she will tell you the bad, but…explain how to fix it, and, if you’re lucky enough,..she will roll up her own sleeves to help you make it happen.

    Nancy Kimme is loyal. A good trait for an insider is loyalty. It goes to truth. She will tell you the good and the bad because being loyal means being honest. She will look at the situation and give it to you straight because being a “yes” person isn’t being loyal. It’s the voice of honesty that’s the most loyal, and Nancy understands giving honest counsel is the best way to show loyalty.

    Nancy Kimme is about the big picture, being viewed through the small details. She navigates the ship to port by reading what lies ahead and avoiding the mines at sea, as only a true insider can. Her vision and understanding of what is happening at present, and how that could effect something in the future is a gift, a talent, and it has served her well. Nancy can take what she knows, formulate a strategy, and execute it with precision and with a focus like few can.

    What really separates Nancy Kimne as an insider? Very few insiders can get talent, message, organization, and information and collect all those ingredients into a well-run Crew, pulling in one direction, focused on the big picture, while the little details aren’t lost in the shuffle.

    That’s Nancy Kinme’s insider secret; she is able to use her talents to cobble her vision into a goal, and organize a Crew to handle the aspects to see them thought.

    Nancy Kimme’s talents and track record allow her to be a leader, an insider, with unparalleled respect. Nancy’s loyalty and honesty is what keeps her as a leader among insiders, not just a person we see “on the inside” What’s most impressive is that up to recently, all I wrote is as true today as it was a month ago, a year ago, years ago. Her “behind the scenes” persona was as perfect as it could be; known for her position, skills, and talent, but not looking in any way to make it about her, or seeking spotlight and accolades for herself. Insiders respect and admire that. You never need public noteriety to be seen as an important player when those who seen publicly as insiders seek you, and seek your cousel. That is your insiders’ insider.

    I second Rich’s nomination. Recognizing the contributions of Nancy Kimme, publicly, is far too long overdue, but what makes these nominations so compelling and right is that those inside, they already knew these things about her, and that’s why she deserves this recognition, the Golden Horseshoe, and probably more importantly our thanks for all she has done in an outstanding career.


  14. - Tony Strupac - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    This year, in the wake of JBT, it’s hard not to honor Nancy Kimme. As Knome said, it’s her year.

    But I agree with others that Tom Cullen should win this year. 1) he doesn’t want it. 2) he supports Nancy’s nomination. 3) this is about insider’s insiders, like OW said.

    Tom treats staff, both Democrats and Republicans as equals. Not just because he comes from their ranks, but because it’s the right thing to do and that’s how he is. While Tom doesn’t like to lose, he does play the game with honor, integrity, passion and fairness.

    Any other year, Tom would have run away with this. But, like elections, trying times define who we are and JBT’s passing put Nancy in the spotlight, where we can now learn more about the great works she does, the respect she commands, and overall love that is felt for her and high esteem people have of her.

    In conclusion, I nominate Nancy Kimme because she deserves it and, like Tom, doesn’t want the attention!


  15. - DirofAdmin - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Thanks for the kind words regarding Bill Luking. Those of us who worked closely with him know how much he helped others, both with issue-specific tactical advice, and broader scope personal guidance. He changed many lives, all for the better.


  16. - Lee County - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    I have nothing to add to Rich’s remarks about best insiders, but for best government spokesperson, I think it’s high time we recognized the unsung work of Dave Druker, Jesse White’s longtime press secretary. The apparent seamlessness of White’s operation, and the ease in which White became the highest statewide votegetter this November, makes it easy to overlook the work of his communications apparatus, instead of recognizing that it was a large part of the Secretary’s success. Druker is the one who gets the 3am calls from reporters when they need to know if a drunk driver is operating on an expired or suspended license. He’s the one who is the public face when any potentially embarrassing news has to be disclosed. He is universally respected and liked by the press corps for being honest, honorable, and responsive. Unlike many other government spokespeople, he never becomes the story. He is one of the most decent guys I have ever dealt with.


  17. - Max's Mom - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Nancy Kimme- people on both sides of the aisle respect her. Nancy is brilliant strategist and leader. She is the hardest worker in state government. Her staff and office are very loyal to her. Nancy and Judy were such a great team which is so sad.


  18. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Spokesperson: Rikeesha Phelon
    In the testosterone-heavy frat house that is the State Capitol, Rikeesha Phelon brings a needed sense of professionalism and organization. She often single handedly keeps the Office of the Senate President from spinning out of its orbit. On the other side of the equation, she was probably the best substitute Quinndergarten teacher the DGA could have ever hoped for. Some battles, however, just can’t be won.

    Insider: A vote in memorial for Bill Luking.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    * The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson

    It’s easy to be a spokesperson for another when the road is paved and the lines are there to follow. You measure a good Spokesperson when that vehicle seems to miss the paved road and the Principle needs to find their way.

    Dave Clarkin added a much needed voice, a consistently sound voice that guided his Principle during a time of great uncertainty. The tone and tenor of the last 3 months of the campaign, abd the days following Election Day, Dave Clarkin was instrumental in trying to keep things toned down, while at the same time continually cheerleading, but with great care and skill not too seem brash.

    I nominate Dave Clarkin for the Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government/Campaign Spokesperson for the solid service rendered during a time that being a spokesperson was as important as the history playing out. Yeoman work.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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