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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016

* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best Statewide Officer goes to Secretary of State Jesse White

He is and continues to be a guy who cares about people and cares about service. No friendlier guy you’ll ever meet.

Honorable mention to US Sen. Mark Kirk for coming back from a horrible stroke and enduring a very tough campaign.

* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best Illinois Congresscritter goes to Mike Bost

(W)hat it boils down to is Mike works harder than anyone for his Southern Illinois District, when others wont even answer calls, which is why he had widespread bipartisan support to win reelection.

Honorable mention to Rodney Davis for all the same reasons.

* The 2016 Golden Horsehoe Award for Best State Agency Director goes to Tim Nuding at GOMB

Nuding for moving all that money around to keep some of this place from capsizing. Tough vote to make because on balance they’re not doing a good job but he deserves some praise.

I have nothing but respect for that man.

Honorable mention to Greg Bedalov at the Tollway.

* On to today’s categories…

* Best In-House Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

I know it’s late in the day (I just plum forgot about it), so do your best to nominate in both categories and please make sure to explain your votes. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

40 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 3:40 pm:

    Jim Fletcher is hands down the best and most knowledgeable lobbyist around the rail. He is down-to-earth and works well with staff and members alike.

    Wendy Butler does a terrific job at CMS dealing with a huge bureaucracy and is able to actually get results that are positive while not taking the credit she deserves.


  2. - JoeMaddon - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 3:40 pm:

    In-House lobbyist: Khadine Bennett with ACLU. She works incredibly hard and has her hands on a ton of issues. She quietly gets real policy changes done, and has helped lead on some of biggest issues over the past few years - from criminal justice reform to marriage equality to privacy to reproductive health. There are few lobbyists that get as much done as Khadine.

    Liason: Shawn McGady, HFS. One of the nicest folks in the building, who is also smart and responsive in a tough climate. He’s easy to work with, even when he opposes your bills. Which is most of the time with my bills.


  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 3:43 pm:

    Jim Fletcher is a contract lobbyist.


  4. - turnaround tommy - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 3:49 pm:

    best liaison - if you don’t know him yet, you will. Reed Sullivan at IHDA.

    Best in-house: ben Jackson. handled himself like a pro on the lending bill


  5. - John John - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 3:52 pm:

    Best liaison is definitely Abby Walsh at Lottery. She’s been under the dome for a long time and really gets it. She knows the process, is super pleasant, and can get things done.

    Best in-house lobbyist is Marlow Colvin from ComEd. He passed that monstrosity of an energy bill against all odds. Former legislator, class act.


  6. - LNR - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:01 pm:

    Best In-House lobbyist: I think he’s won before, but I have to go with Rob Karr, IL Retail Merchants — IRMA is the most bipartisan and pragmatic business group in the state. They know when to push hard and when to cut their losses and settle for the best deal their gonna get. Rob’s cool demeanor and political savvy are a big reason why. He’s proof that a business group can do very well in a Dem dominated legislature.

    Best Legislative Liaison: John Thompson, Illinois State Police - I’ve watched him work through a couple of sticky inter-agency battles quietly and effectively. At criminal law committee hearings in both chambers he is frequently the only cop in the room and answers questions knowledgeably on bills even when they don’t involve the state police.


  7. - 217/773 - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:04 pm:

    Sean McGaddy at HFS. Unlike most of the liaisons that came aboard with BVR, he had prior legislative experience from his time on the House GOP staff, and hit the ground running when Team Rauner called. He and his team are quick to respond to legislators and constituents with straight and helpful answers, even when they aren’t exactly what you want to hear. HFS is a lightning rod for complaints, and Sean handles them with ease.

    I’d say the same for Lizveth Ramirez of ComEd. Tons of experience from her time on Speaker’s staff helps her when it comes to rounding up votes. Her close ties to the Latino Caucus makes her a huge asset to her bosses. She’s got tons of street cred with them because she’s worked tons of campaigns for them, knocking on doors and wearing out shoe leather, not sitting in an office barking out orders. She doesn’t over promise, but always over delivers.


  8. - 217/773 - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:05 pm:

    *Shawn not Sean


  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:06 pm:

    Best In-House Lobbyist - Scott Humbard at Exelon Generation. He is extremely strategic, calm, and has a strong team that he manages. He has had 2 of the biggest legislative victories in last few years on energy issues — leading the ExGen team that supported the Future Energy Jobs Bill and organizing the customer coalition that opposed the Tenaska project a few years back. The coordination with labor, the environmental groups, and community leaders was a potent combination to secure bipartisan passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill and support from the Rauner Administration.


  10. - Cousins - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:06 pm:

    Best in house lobbyist: Matt Paprocki, IPI. You won’t find a more principled, hard-working, and agreeable guy out there. There’s no tax hike, 580 didn’t pass, criminal justice reform bills got signed into law, vetoes were sustained -he’s got a pretty incredible bipartisan track record in a really tough environment all while being a nice guy. There’s a reason IPI snapped him up after he won a best staffer Golden Horseshoe award.

    Best liaison: Andrew Proctor keeps it real while being involved in local government.


  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:08 pm:

    === if you don’t know him yet, you will===

    Maybe, but he just started a few weeks ago. Don’t ruin it for the guy.


  12. - Braidwood Billy - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:32 pm:

    Best In House Lobbyist: Adrienne Alexander with AFSCME. She’s a competent and savvy advocate for AFSCME, even when faced with strong opposition. She is also very pleasant to work with and one of the nicest people under the dome.

    Best Liaison: Jonathan Gaeta from IDOC. Very professional and knowledgable about IDOC. He handles constituent issues, especially challenging ones, efficiently and with care. He also hustles hard and has really rallied legislators and the department to support positive, criminal justice reform bills (which have definitely been a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating Governorship).


  13. - LakeviewJ - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:33 pm:

    Second Shawn McGaddy and Rob Karr. Both are tremendously effective advocates for those they represent.


  14. - Southern - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 4:39 pm:

    Best Liasion - Shawn McGady is very helpful and responsive.

    Best In House Lobbyist- I second Ben Jackson. Ben is knowledgeable, helpful and leads a great team.


  15. - my picks - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 5:04 pm:

    Liaison: John Thompson at State Police is one of the hardest working guys under the dome. ISP had a pretty bad reputation with legislative staff, but John has worked hard to repair those relationships. He listens to all perspectives and gets along with everyone. He is a super guy.

    Lobbyist: Lizbeth Ramirez worked like crazy behind the scenes on the Exelon/ComEd bill and deserves credit for keeping the wheels on when the bus was going off the cliff. She kept members calm, gave them the information they needed, and got the job done.


  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 5:26 pm:

    I would second Jon Gaeta at IDOC. Really understands the agency and process. Does a good job representing the administration’s view for the agency.


  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 5:53 pm:

    Liaison: Rob Moon with Dart’s office. If Moon were an X-Men, his mutant power would be the ability to name any small town in Illinois and tell you about a diner on Main Street and their best dish. The man eats, breathes, sleeps, and lives for loving Illinois. He’s absolutely obsessed with the Solukis and Southern Illinois in general, despite being born and raised in the Quad Cities. He’s by far one of the most personable people I’ve ever met. Totally deserving.


  18. - Energy - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 5:59 pm:

    I second Scott Humbard at Exelon. As mentioned before Scott managed the fight against Tenaska a few years ago and led the strategy that eventually passed the Future Generation Jobs Bill saving 2 Exelon nukes. Many companies would have not had the tenacity to stay in the fight since first proposed in 2014 but Scott never let his team quit. Scott fights hard but is always above board and is a gentleman through and through.


  19. - Apple Picker - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 6:07 pm:

    In House- Scott Humbard. For two years he has stood in the center of a hurricane of an issue and has always been rock solid. With armies of lobbyists on both sides no one out worked Humbard. No matter what side you are on you know you are always going to get a straight answer from Scott. In a room full of show ponies Humbard is the workhorse.

    Liaison- I remember when the Department of Insurance had three Liaisons. For the past two years Jeff Scott has handled it solo. He learned well in his days with JBT and Nancy in the Comptrollers office and has taken his craft to the next level. He was the House Republicans key staffer on workers comp during the last round of reforms. For a decade he’s been a go to guy on big issues.


  20. - LEOette - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 6:20 pm:

    Liaison: John Thompson at State Police. Steady, smart, humble and always willing to have a conversation and consider your position.

    In-House Lobbyist: Victoria Watkins for Chicago. Being point for Chicago is never easy, but she maintains her professionalism, integrity and sense of humor in every interaction.


  21. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 6:32 pm:

    Shawn McGaddy - for a lot of the reasons already stated, in a system where you can’t even get return calls from some liaisons, Shawn has been a nice surprise.

    In-House Lobbyist: Ireta Gasner from Ounce of Prevention. She has always been a source of knowledge, for legislators and lobbyists alike, but her ability to balance the very critical lobbying needs of the social service organization she represents with the unique conflict of having the organization’s president also be the state’a First Lady has been beyond impressive. It is a cynical building, but I don’t think anyone questions her efforts for the kids the Ounce helps.


  22. - Shades of Purple - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 6:50 pm:

    In-house Lobbyist: Michelle Ishmael. Michelle has been dealt a very tough hand over the past two years given that Team Rauner occupies the Second Floor. She has maintained good relationships on the GOP side while keeping the Dem relationships as well. Professional, always available, and is an “advocate” in the best sense of the word.

    Legislative Liaison: Wendy Butler, hands down. She deals with a behemoth of an agency from the policy/legislative side, dealing with hundreds of bills while many liaisons only have a handful. She also has to navigate the personal problems of Legislators, such as fielding questions when it comes to their health insurance, pension, jobs. That’s the kind of stuff that other liaisons don’t have to deal with, ever. She had the background coming into the job as a previous liaison; she doesn’t come from the political operation; and she brings a level of professionalism, maturity, and knowledge that is often lacking in liaisons under any Governor. All one has to do is see her in action at Committee hearings to understand the respect she has from both Dem and GOP legislators. Not many liaisons reach the level of respect she has attained.


  23. - Former GH - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 7:13 pm:

    In-house: Scott Ziomek from Northwestern Hospital. He does the state and federal GR beat for them. He is a dedicated, pound the pavement, always on top of the issues, kind of guy. He mentors others and works well with legislators, staff, the rail, and agency folks. All around good guy.

    Liaison: My vote goes to Jennifer Aring at DHS. In large part because… DHS. That agency tends to be a cluster most of the time and she has to be responsive to all 177 members and staffers. As far as I can tell she keeps the trains running on time and isn’t afraid to play hardball when she needs to.


  24. - Springfield - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 7:14 pm:

    Best in house lobbyist is definitely Mark Poulos from Local 150. They got the lock box constitutional amendment on the ballot and passed. No easy task. He managed through all the late challenges very well. He’s sharp as a whip, Highly respected and knowledgeable. It’s fun to watch him debate issues in Committee. He’s outstanding.


  25. - The Winner Is - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 7:31 pm:

    Lobbyist: Lizbeth Ramirez at ComEd. Worked her tail off on the energy bill getting the Latino caucus on board.

    Liaison: Abby Walsh at Lottery. She ran a tight ship when she was over both of Sen Brady’s offices and shines as one of the liaisons who actually gets it. She can work both sides of the aisle better than any of the liaisons in the administration.


  26. - The Winner Is - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 7:35 pm:

    Lobbyist: Lizbeth Ramirez at ComEd. She worked her tail off on the energy bill and got Latino caucus members on board.
    Liaison: Abby Walsh at Lottery. She ran a tight ship when she was in charge of both of Sen Brady’s offices and shines as one of the few liaisons who actually gets it. She works both sides of the aisle better than any of them.


  27. - Knobby - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 7:42 pm:

    Best Liaison: John Thompson at State Police. JT works hard, knows the issues, and is the go-to guy on almost all police issues.

    Best In-House Lobbyist: While I disagree with 99% of their work, Matt Paprocki from IPI has done a nice job working on criminal justice reform. Paprocki worked in a bipartisan manner to pass, and convinced the Governor to sign, bills on decriminlization and occupational licenses.


  28. - Telly - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 8:41 pm:

    Let me second some previous mentioned nominees:

    No company in Illinois has scored a win in Springfield like Exelon just did, so how can you not give it to Scott. Uniting with the greens was the key. Well played.

    I was thinking more towards someone who works with a state agency, but Rob Moon is an inspired pick for liaison. A hard worker and a gentleman. He has to stay on his toes to keep up with Tom Dart’s manic pace. The world would be a better place if everyone loved their job as much as Rob does.


  29. - Labor - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 9:13 pm:

    I agree with Marc Poulos getting the Golden Horseshoe. He is one of the smartest and hardest working people in the Capitol. When I see him and Dave Sullivan walking around, I know something is up. They are a great team trying to help make Springfield work well. Poulos is a great voice for Labor in an interesting environment.


  30. - two cents - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 9:43 pm:

    Liaison: The past year’s regular and veto sessions were nothing but historic in terms of the GOP caucus holding together in the House to force Speaker Madigan to abandon a wildly out of balance budget plan and accept a temporary funding deal tied to pension reform — the first and only time the Speaker has signed off on reforms tied to a budget bill. The House held firm on multiple attempts to override the Governor’s vetoes — again, the Speaker’s last ditch attempts to break the caucus before losing the supermajority in January. And throughout all this chaos, a bill that originally looked like a special interest Christmas tree with massive energy taxes was turned into a bipartisan energy bill that protected ratepayers and saved thousands of jobs. A key part of all of these accomplishments was an unsung hero in the Governor’s legislative affairs office named Bob Stefanski, the Governor’s Senior House Liaison. That young man impressed many inside and outside the Capitol due to his tenacity and smarts. He has a bright future ahead.


  31. - 'lectric guitar - Wednesday, Dec 21, 16 @ 10:26 pm:

    In House Lobbyist: John Charles for the SIU System. Extremely friendly, gets back to you with helpful information, and is obviously passionate about his institution and not just there to collect a paycheck.

    Legislative Liaison: I always had very good luck with Andrew Perkins. Was good about giving me more than just a canned response and made sure I had what I needed to have when he was at DCEO. I have no doubt that he will do well as the new Senate Liaison.


  32. - Annonin' - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 7:54 am:

    Hoping the voting not closed
    Liaison…John Thompson…..always fast to respond with solid information

    In house IDHA missed a bet when they let Charlotte Flickenger get away. John Charles is top notch too.


  33. - Centenial - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 8:10 am:

    I will second Rob Moon. I couldn’t say it better than this though: “The world would be a better place if everyone loved their job as much as Rob does.”

    I second Victoria for the city too. I’m always impressed at her calm demeanor, no matter the circumstances. Luking taught her well.


  34. - Black n Blue - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 8:35 am:

    Lizbeth Ramirez at ComEd. Polite, professional, diligent and focused on her client. Works hard and her political chops are solid. Understands the leverage between working to deliver for the members and ComEd so everyone stays whole.


  35. - Red Mitten - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 8:44 am:

    In House Lobbyist: Ben Jackson works tirelessly for his industry.


  36. - 4 percent - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 8:47 am:

    Scott Humbard. Quietly goes about his business and achieved the biggest win of the year. He was able to get legislators to oppose a special deal for Tenaska and then turn around and sell a special deal for Exelon. Magical.

    Donovan Griffin at the EPA. Another quiet guy that has worked on some key issues and is well respected by all stakeholders. Earned his promotion.


  37. - Conn Smythe - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 8:56 am:

    In house: Dri Alexander, AFSCME. Shoots members straight on issues, effective without being pushy, and she seems to be exactly the kind of worker that will rise up nicely in that union.

    Best Liaison: John Thompson, ISP. I’d argue he has the toughest liaison job in the building, representing an agency at the forefront of the ongoing policing issues while dealing with gun wars.


  38. - Tollway Tommy - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 10:34 am:

    Liaison: Jack Demeulenaere from the Tollway. He’s is Mr. Tollway. He started his career collecting pennies and nickels in a toll booth on 294 to becoming one of the most respected liaisons in state government.


  39. - Hans Wormhat - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 10:44 am:

    Jon Gaeta at DOC. The guy is one of the hardest workers out there, knows his stuff, and is always extremely professional and respectful. DOC is definitely lucky to have someone like Jon


  40. - Keepin' Track - Thursday, Dec 22, 16 @ 4:49 pm:

    For best Contract Lobbyist, I would like to make a posthumous nomination — Vince Persico. He was always upbeat, knowledgeable about the issues and 100% of the time represented his clients with grace and honesty. A real gentleman who earned the respect and friendship of legislators on both sides of the aisle. Now that’s a real accomplishment in this day and age!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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