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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* The 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist had two very strong crowd favorites, so I’m declaring a tie…

There isn’t a more respected contract lobbyist in the capitol than Dave Sullivan. He’s the best around. He’s pragmatic and bipartisan. He’s legitimately nice and helpful. And he takes on hard issues and clients — having FOP and Local 150 right now is a handful, and Sullivan does it with aplomb.


Nancy Kimme for best contract lobbyist.

It is a rarity to find someone with Nancy’s level of experience in both the political and governmental sides of the business who commands so much respect from both sides of the aisle - and not just from staff but elected officials. Her sphere of influence reaches out not just under the Dome but throughout Illinois and includes Washington DC insiders and electeds. Nancy’s knowledge of state government, professionalism, and likability are why people trust her to get the job done and a solid indicator as to why she has accumulated such a broad portfolio in just one year as a lobbyist.

I know them both, I respect them both, it’s only fitting that they share this award.

* The 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist also had a crowd favorite…

Emily Miller with Voices for Illinois Children. Emily has elevated the public debate about the impact the budget has on health and human services across Illinois. She’s frequently quoted on this blog and she lead efforts among colleagues to bring national media attention to Illinois’ budget issues at hearings both in Springfield and Chicago.

She’s been a fearless advocate for social services, in a system that is often ripe with advocates that are scared to challenge leadership of all stripes.


* I decided a few weeks ago (long before she won today’s award) to change the name of today’s category to the Emily Miller Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist.

Have at it and make sure to explain your vote. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonin' - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    Mike Pollack….medical marijuana and marriage equal
    It…lit o do Gooding there

  2. - Linus - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:38 am:

    He got a vote in yesterday’s tallies, but deserves one here today, too. Samir Tanna of IL Action for Children was on his toes all year, dealing with rolling waves of child care crises in the spring and the summer/fall. He mastered the space-time continuum to be in multiple hearings and meetings at once. Hats off to that guy.

  3. - Dome Gnome - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    Amber Smock from Access Living. She’s smart, kind, principled, and really understands disability-related issues. Amber has been a centralizing figure for the DON score issue this year. She fights like her life depends on it.

  4. - No name - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 11:15 am:

    Sam Tuttle. As someone who rarely agrees with the “do-gooder” positions, I have come to have a deep respect for Sam’s knowledge of the issues, especially the technical aspects and ability to discuss them in a rational and reasonable way and her ability to listen to and to address concerns if possible or honestly say, that can’t be addressed and why. By having a respectful dialogue, we have been able to understand each other’s positions and know when we can find areas of agreement and when we need to agree to disagree. And Sam is always willing to talk to the opposing side. Sam is top notch.

  5. - Emily Miller - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 11:36 am:

    I’ll second the Sam Tuttle (Heartland Alliance) nomination.

    When Sam articulates her support of “do-gooder” public policy reforms, she does not make you feel warm and fuzzy. Instead, she makes you understand that what she’s advocating for is not just “right” through a moral lens (an argument that many do-gooder types, myself included, accidentally fall back on); her policy change goals are right because they improve the economy and well-being of both the targeted population, and the state as a whole.

    While public shaming can open the door to have conversations about issues we’ve all pretended don’t exist, I don’t think it’s a great long game tool for advancing social and economic justice. Sam gets that, and she’s in Springfield to have meatier conversations about solutions. I rely on her to cut the crap and tell me what’s right, and I know others do, too.

  6. - AlabamaShake - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 12:06 pm:

    Khadine Bennett - Khadine is a rockstar lobbyist who just puts her head down and gets things done. She is a constant presence, and continually lobbies on difficult and controversial issues with great success. Plus, few of us can say we lobby on “behalf of the constitution.”

  7. - Lincoln'sNose - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    I nominate Kyle Hillman. Nobody works harder tweeting nastygrams to politicians. Plus, he has highlites.

  8. - Earnest - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:04 pm:

    OT, but, I miss you Don Moss! From the biggest of the system issues to the little things impacting just one agency or even one person, Don would always follow up and stay positive.

  9. - Former Springfielder - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Rich, You should consider an award for best legislative support agency staffer (LRB, LRU, LPU, LIS). Those people work hard and often work overtime helping legislators, staff, and lobbyists with research, drafting, and tech help. They rarely, if ever, get any credit for the good work that they do. Just a suggestion.

  10. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    I’m not sure who you would call their “lobbyist,” but I think this might be the best category to tip our hats to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. They championed the letter that led to the first leaders meeting in months (although they were not alone), and the Illinois Sunshine project they unveiled this year is a much needed new look for the State Board’s data.

  11. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    I wish they were highlites, sadly that is Grey. I blame Springfield for every one of them too.

  12. - Glorified Babysitter - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:31 pm:

    Josh Evans from IARF. His work ethic is unmatchable, his knowledge is admirable, his compassion is genuine and his advocacy on behalf of community providers is tireless. Plus, he always brings cookies to meetings!

  13. - Secret Word - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 1:48 pm:

    I nominate Heather Eagleton of the American Cancer Society. She is smart, knowledgeable, helpful, and hard working. Not afraid to take on big players when their deeds have not matched their self-serving words.

  14. - The Eastern Bloc - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 3:13 pm:

    Josh Evans, Vice President of Government Relations at IARF. He is a tireless champion for community-based, health reform and has the most extensive knowledge of rules, procedures, and policies out of anyone I have ever known. Josh knows that if we don’t hold government accountable for serving its most vulnerable citizens, we will be taken back to living in a Dickensian era. Community providers are lucky to have him fighting in their corner.

  15. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 3:22 pm:

    I was torn on this one, but I nominate David Kolata of the Citizen’s Utility Board.

    Victory has a thousand fathers in the do-gooder world, but the most decisive victory this year for the do-gooders was the defeat of ratepayer subsidies for Com Ed’s nuclear arsenal, and Kolata’s leadership was pretty evident.

    The victory arose from a classic Kolata approach, one that he has used effectively in partnerships including consumer groups, environmental organizations, and even industry competitors to force the likes of Com Ed, AT&T, and Comcast either to the negotiating table or to their knees.

    There are a lot of do-gooders doing a lot of great work out there, but the Golden Horseshoe ought to go to a lobbyist or legislative liaison who actually puts a Win on the board (yes, Goldberg, that was a dig).

    Kolata’s wins have become so common that we hardly even remark on CUB’s effectiveness anymore, and that is remarkable.

    CUB is without question the most effective consumer group in Illinois, and Kolata does it by knitting together media strategy, traditional lobbying, and grassroots advocacy in a way that is unmatched.

  16. - k3_Spi_Chi - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 5:20 pm:

    I am going to admit that I don’t deal a whole lot with the “Do-Gooder” lobbyists but that being said I also would have to vote for Evans. I don’t know what you call that mass that he grows on his face (see IARF website for more info) but he clearly loves what he is advocating. You find very few people in politics who pass on things most would deam as more powerful or financially beneficial but I have no doubt that he has on a few occassions.

  17. - Dome Gnome - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 6:11 pm:

    Well, shoot, as much as I stand by my nomination for Amber Smock I’d have to agree that Josh Evans is also one of the good guys. He has a tender heart and a sharp mind. I guess I’m lucky to know so many fine people that I can’t even choose from among them.

  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 8:02 pm:

    To the Post,

    My nomination for this Golden Horseshoe was saved for the person who now has this GH Eity her named attached to it.

    I was read with such a great respect and admiration each time Emily Miller would insert the proper perspective necessary to frame what is actually happening while others quibble about dollars and cents. What Emily Miller has done is elevate the conscious of those following these trying times, and put a face to each sterile cut and elimination. Emily Miller is a hero to her cause, not by passion or heart, but by conscious and facts exposed for us all to see.

    Emily Miller demostrated in these 12 months the mix of professionalism and commitment that made each word, each description, each reality a cry to rally, not a point to divide. Emily Miller is deserving for this Horseshoe to bear her name as a symbol to all that doing what needs to be done, being the “Do-Gooder” lobbyist isn’t one dimensional lobbying, but three dimensional framing to be the advocate for those who need one most.

    My congratulations to Emily Miller, and this will be my “nomination” and my heartfelt thanks for all you do.

  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 8:05 pm:

    “My nomination for this Golden Horseshoe was saved for the person who now has her named attached to it.”


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