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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015

* Nominations for the 2015 Golden Horeshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Republican were neck and neck. Rep. David Harris just barely pulled it out…

There is no one member more deserving of praise than David Harris. He is a voice of sound reason that both sides should spend more time listening to.

Rep. Dave McSweeney is awarded a very close runner-up for strong nominations like this one…

I think that everyone in Springfield was afraid of what he might be when he first got to Springfield. And, yes, he has definitely still ruffled feathers, especially in his own caucus. But he has really established himself as an independent thinker, who, while very conservative, is also interested in getting things done and doing what he thinks is right. In a year that has seen so little independence on either side of the aisle, McSweeney has actually stood out.

* The 2015 Golden Horeshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat…

It may be moot given that he was just sworn-in as Auditor General, but my vote for best House Dem goes to Frank Mautino. Never mugging for the cameras, always willing to spare some time for you, always willing to give it to you straight. What more can you ask for?

Also, an intellectual and political grasp of the budget not seen in most mortals, let alone mere legislators. This guy ate, drank and slept with budget books. He’s forgotten more about budgets than most people will ever learn. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people who’ve too often taken him for granted. They don’t make them like Mautino anymore.

No, they don’t.


* On to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

As always, make sure to explain your nominations or your vote won’t count. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OurMagician - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:11 am:

    Democrat-Kwame Raoul is a leading voice of decorum and thoughtfulness on many issues. His manor is a breath of fresh air in a circus like atmosphere.

    Republican-Sam McCann for voting against Governor Rauner (R-Carhatt) and voting what he was hearing from his constituents on SB1229.

  2. - long time listener, first time caller - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    Republican- Sam McCann. Not so much for voting against or for anyone else’s agenda, but for sticking to his own and truly voting his district.

    Democrat- John Sullivan. While others have taking the spotlight on big issues (Kwame Raoul is certainly worth of praise), Sen. Sullivan is a thoughtful voice within his caucus often asking “should we” rather than “can we.” He will most certainly be missed.

  3. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:23 am:

    Two similar members stand out on both sides.

    Heather Steans has great knowledge of the most important issues facing the state and will stand up for her beliefs (supporting Fair Maps).

    Karen McConnaughay has shot to the top tier by being able to work with anyone and has won the trust of the administration as well as Democrats.

    Steans is very liberal, McConnaughay very conservative, but both are absolutely focused on helping get things accomplished in spite of the hyper-political landscape of Springfield.

  4. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:26 am:

    Republican - has to be Sam McCann, the only R to oppose the Gov. Yes, he was never going to be the Gov’s BFF after considering a run against him, so he didn’t have a lot to lose. He at least demonstrated he actually listened to his constitutions and was willing to vote their desires, something a lot of others in the GA seem unwilling to do. In my experience, Sam has always been willing to listen to people.

  5. - The Muse - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    Republican Senator: Chapin Rose is one of the nicest people over in the Senate. He asks poignant questions in committee, and he’s very easy to work with.

    Democratic Senator: Daniel Biss had a great year. His sponsorship of the conversion therapy bill and his demeanor during the debate was incredibly composed. He’s one of the few legislators that can break fairly complicated matters down clearly.

  6. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:36 am:

    No disrespect to Sen. McCann, but just voting against Rauner doesn’t make him the best Senator. It makes him the favorite of those who hate Rauner. That is hardly an objective criterion.

  7. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    As I did yesterday I intend to stay local and to nominate someone from a party I normally do not align myself with. Sen. Dave Luechtefeld ( R - Okawville ) has been my senator since I moved back to the district. I have known him since he was coaching at a rival high school and have gotten to know him much better in his present position. He is a principled man with strong conservative values. Needless to say, he and I often disagreed on some issues, yet his door was always open, we could honestly disagree, but he was never disagreeable. He respected my position and opinion and always returned my phone calls. His demeanor and passion for the district will be missed.

  8. - The Doc - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Daniel Biss on the Dem side. The automatic retirement savings bill is a solid piece of legislation that is emblematic of Biss’ tenure as a member of the GA - thoughtful, considered, seeking to address a real, tangible problem.

  9. - Modest Proposal - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    –No disrespect to Sen. McCann, but just voting against Rauner doesn’t make him the best Senator. It makes him the favorite of those who hate Rauner. That is hardly an objective criterion.–

    I completely agree. To be the best you have to be for something…

  10. - Crescans - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:51 am:

    Republican Senator: Matt Murphy
    His domination of floor debate on his side as well as his humor and wit make him one of the best beings in the statehouse.

    Democrat Senator: Toi Hutchinson
    Toi runs her committee professionally and fairly, and her trademarked humorous sign off gets me every time.

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 11:53 am:

    Modest Proposal, how about you try making your own nominations? Thanks.

  12. - Corporate Thug - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 12:13 pm:

    I think the measure of a good lawmaker anymore is the ability to reach across the aisle and get something done. Not everyone walks away happy, but you walk away with a product that people can be proud of. With that:

    GOP: Althoff - She communicates and works well with the other side of the aisle. Has for years. And she’s built good relationships with D’s that make her effective.

    DEM: Raoul - When there’s a big issue, he’s one of the guys you look at to carry it. His resume is as good as them come as an effective lawmaker. And I think the GOP respects him as a sponsor. They’ve worked well with him on issues in the past.

    People are so dug in. And I understand that in these times. But banking on ideology, most of the time, doesn’t foster results. Gotta find common ground. Althoff and Raoul are good at it.

  13. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    I’d give it to Sam.
    He might not be eligible next year.

    John Sullivan.
    For his dedication and service through the years.

  14. - All 102 Counties Agree - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 12:48 pm:

    I nominate Senator Manar. Senator Manar truly is a polished politician. He takes care of all of his constituents. He helps out major communities like Springfield, Decatur, all the way down to small towns like Raymond and Farmersville and he is always willing to help out when needed.

    I also nominate Senator Rose. Senator Rose doesn’t care what political party you are. He wants to help and discuss issues with anyone. He works his huge district showing up at all events and parades. He truly is a great man and means well. He meets with his county officials and is always willing to help.

  15. - Flyer - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 12:55 pm:

    Cunningham - smart, steady, common sense, thoroughly informed, and a team player.

  16. - modest proposal - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 12:58 pm:

    —Modest Proposal, how about you try making your own nominations? Thanks.—

    Ok. I’ll play along.

    John Sullivan - he works his district like no one else.

    Dan Duffy - held himself to term limits and that is really hard to do once your in office. It shows some integrity-something thats lacking in Springfield right now.

  17. - Emily Miller - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    Senator Toi Hutchinson and Senators Karen McConnaughay and Pam Althoff (yes, I know naming two is cheating) for the role each played as bill sponsor and JCAR members, respectively, in securing an end to the Governor’s child care cuts.

    While no one has been able to get lawmakers and the Governor to publicly acknowledge and move to solve our revenue problem, there have been a few few instances where lawmakers have come together to reverse unilateral and reckless changes in policy made by the Governor. Chalk Rauner’s child care cuts up to whatever you choose. Lawmakers of both parties saw the value of the program, and realized that the cuts were devastating for both families and businesses in their districts.

    None of these women crowed about their involvement, and none took the bait presented in the form of Ken Dunkin.

    Bravo to these women who chose to disregard politics to stand up for other women– especially because they had to stand up to powerful men who would rather they had stood down.

  18. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 1:40 pm:

    Dem - gotta go with Senator Biss. Most people who frequent this site know the level of respect for him and know my misgivings about him dropping out of the Comptroller’s race.

    GOP - let’s go with Senator Rose. I really like Senator Murphy and know that he’s the GOP budget “guru”, but Rose is the one who really delves deeply into the approp and budgeting process. He asks the best questions in committee and on the floor. And maybe the best part is he’s just a regular dude who doesn’t feel the need to wear thousand dollar suits and look like he spent more time on his hair than how he would vote for the day.

    I will ask this of those who voted for Sam McCann - so does that mean all of the suburban Dems (both House and Senate) had constituents demanding that they vote for SB 1229?! My cynical guess - which is based a bit on years of dealing with actual constituents - is that they didn’t and that they probably even got serious pushback against it.

  19. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    SDem: Hutchinson. She’s mended fences and grown as a lawmaker. She made the tough call to help people over politics with the child care deal.

    SGOP: McCann. He’s voting his district over political money. That’s not easy, especially when everyone sitting around him is counting the dollars.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

    During this time in government where trying to figure out which crisis needs attention, this Senator has methodically and skillfully pushed to bring the discussion to what tomorrow needs to be. While others what to tout Education as something they hang their hat on as a big supporter, this Senator has been wearing out his shoes going everywhere and talking to everyone about education funding.

    I nominate Sen. Andy Manar.

    While working on education funding is difficult on its own, Sen. Manar has logged mile after mile talking to anyone who will have him with the goal being a better way to fund education for all of Illinois’ children, not looking at his district and simply asking “where’s ours?”.

    At some point, many say we’ve passed it, a new way of funding schools is going to have to be tackled. The diligent work Sen. Manar has been doing, and his commitment during these very trying times, makes me glad to nominate him for the Golden Horseshoe.

  21. - Downstate Hack - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 2:06 pm:

    Democrat Senator Manar Shows some hard work and independence.

    Republican: Senator Murphy on budget knowledge.

  22. - Hack in the Back - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    Senate GOP: Senator Luechtefeld. Coach is the statesman of the GOP Caucus and a voice of reason. He stays consistent with his conservatism but actively works for what is best for the state.

    Senate Democrats: Senator Biss. Don’t always like his lectures on the floor but he studies hard and knows what he’s talking about.

  23. - ChiefM - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 3:17 pm:

    Dem - Cunningham - Smart, steady and he is honest as well. If I could vote for two I would add Senator Morrison. She showed veteran smarts as a freshman. Get her rookie card.

    GOP - Murphy - Savvy and respectful. He works well with both sides.

  24. - walker - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 3:36 pm:

    GOP Althof for diving in where others fear to swim, and making smart deals for the whole state. She doesn’t grandstand. She finds common ground through sensible hard work, and loses the empty rhetoric.

    Dem: Biss who just comes up with new solutions over and over again. No balding retreads among his bills.

  25. - walker - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 3:44 pm:

    Dem: Biss. The new substantial ideas just keep on coming. Biss has no time for flimsy retreads among his bills.

    GOP: Hard work, bipartisanship, substance over bs. She is there when the people need common sense solutions, without any grandstanding or talking point blabber.

  26. - Jeb! - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 4:00 pm:

    Dem: Biss. When the White House and New York Times are talking about Illinois leading the nation in retirement savings - a true concern as baby boomers age - you are a national leader as well as a state leader.

    GOP: McCann. This was probably the toughest year ever in bucking the party leadership with their deep pockets and threats, but he has gone his own way more than once. No one else stands out, particularly when the rest are all in lock step.

  27. - OurMagician - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    In response to Team Sleep, no, other Senators probably didn’t have the calls to vote for SB1229. But he did listen to his constituents rather than party leadership. Sen. McCann is the only one of the few Republicans that actually did something this year other than be the Party of No.

  28. - bigsby - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 4:30 pm:

    I will echo Cunningham. One of the only legislators ever to admit to making a mistake and apologizing for it when dealing with him on a bill. That is rare in this building and refreshing. And he is always willing to meet and learn. Republicans, Pam Althoff. She has the ability to bring people together to work toward solutions which is why she gets pulled in to many major bills. Plus she’s a sweetheart.

  29. - Veil of Ignorance - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 4:42 pm:

    Democrat Senator: Biss, for being independent-minded and successfully moving issues with well articulated arguments. I’ve also observed that he always has time for community members and is willing to hear folks out and give thoughtful responses.

    Republican Senator: Murphy, he offers perhaps the best critiques/arguments from the conservative perspective. At least in my dealings, he has refrained from getting nasty or personal. I suspect some of this is driven from his personal faith.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 4:54 pm:

    Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

    When looking at the Republican Caucus, I find myself looking at members that are the ones I know will do the work and be thoughtful enough to look at the other side, but string enough to disagree without being disagreeable too.

    While many fit that discription, one is leaving, and will leave his mark, in civility, principles, and integrity.

    I nominate Sen. Dave Luechtefeld.

    “Coach” has lived up to that well deserved title, being that leader, learning and teaching, and willing to make his case and be principled, while having that open mind all coaches have.

    Sen. Dave Luechtefeld will be missed, but we are all better off seeing the example he has been, by just being who he is.

  31. - nona - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 5:02 pm:

    It’s easier to be a finger-pointing partisan than to take some political risks to improve the State, not just score debating points. Raoul stands out on the Democratic side as someone who is constructive, while I’m not sure if the GOP has any risk-takers other than McCann.

  32. - Western - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    I’m gonna second two previous nominations: McConnaughay and Cunningham. Both are nonpartisan and reasonable and neither will ever be accused of showboating…if the mess we’re in now ever gets solved, they’ll be the kind of members who figure it out. McConnaughay deserves a medal for the way she works with Sandavol in the Transportation Committee. And if she’s on her feet on the floor, odds are she’s carrying a bill on behalf of her district, not some lobbyist pal.

    If for no other reason, Cunningham deserve the nod for kicking around the college presidents and their bloated budgets. Long overdue.

  33. - Anon414 - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 7:06 pm:

    Good to see so many newbies getting mentioned. Biss, Manar, Cunningham, Morrison, McConnaughay….all solid up-n-comers, and I would add Nybo to that group.

    But my shoes go to a couple of veterans near the end of the road: Sullivan and Luechtefeld. Both are widely respected in their caucuses and almost legends in their districts. I spend a lot of time in committee hearings and have come to believe you can best judge a member by the questions he or she ask in committee. Any time Sullivan’s or Luechtefeld’s mic is turned on, the entire hearing room stops stirring and pays attention. Never any partisan grandstanding or posturing from either, just smart questions or observations related to public policy. These guys will be missed.

  34. - Space Cowboy - Wednesday, Dec 9, 15 @ 7:45 pm:

    I echo OW on this one:

    SGOP- “Coach” is always polite, friendly and may disagree but never disrespects. He is a knowledgeable guy but has an intellectual modesty about him that makes him easy to discuss issues with. God, if only more of them had that. He will be terribly missed come the next GA.

    SDEM: Manar. Certainly don’t always agree with him but I have to respect his diligence on education reform over the last couple years. Always prepared and polished when he speaks and can take hard questions very well. He’s going places.

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