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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Republican is a tie. Rep. David Harris

Rep. David Harris for his pragmatism, compassion and integrity. His departure signifies the potential end of an era. He’s a true Statesman. I wish the General well in his retirement.

And the people’s choice

Rep. Steve Andersson for many of the reasons already mentioned but also because he is the consummate statesman and gentleman. He refuses to join that element of his party which hates and rails against others. A face-to-face with Steve always restores my faith in the political process.

I think my own personal pick would’ve been Reggie Phillips, a Tea Partier if there ever was one who voted for a tax hike to prevent his district and his state from crashing and burning.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat goes to Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie

BFC deserves this one for a long career’s worth of service to Illinois. Even as the Speaker’s majority leader, she’s well respected on both sides of the aisle. Her contributions to good public policy are numerous, spanning the fields of human services, healthcare, education, government transparency, and on and on.

Honorable mention goes to Rep. Chris Welch

He has done an outstanding job of representing his District. He successfully passed the Cursive Writing Bill, passed the Trust Act, he courageously sued the Comptroller’s office to get the General Assembly paid, and he is currently running unopposed. Rep Welch being unopposed is a reflection of the great job that he’s doing. He listens to his constituents and put us first.

* OK, on to today’s category…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

Make sure to explain your nomination or it won’t count. And do your best to nominate legislators in both categories, please. Thanks

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gettysburgaddress - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    Tom Cullerton is the best Democratic Senator. Tom works on a bipartisan basis to pass meaningful legislation. Who doesn’t personally like Tom? Tom also works his district hard and is a good spokesperson for the Senate Dems. I’m expecting Tom to be the leader in standing up for the veterans in Quincy who Governor Rauner has ignored.

    Mike Connelly is the best GOP Senator. He’s conservative, but works well across the aisle to get things done. He should be the next GOP Senate Leader.

  2. - A guy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:35 pm:


    Really for the same reason as my votes yesterday. Bill Brady gets some credit too. In a remarkably difficult year, they worked hard with the Gov’s office and their caucuses to keep pushing to get big things done. None of it was perfect or even close, but all of it was better than nothing and it took courage and energy to persevere. I do hope Christine remains eligible for this. The record shows she put everything into getting a decent result.

  3. - Metro East Resident - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    Democrat- Andy Manar

    Senator Manar has become a shining star in the party. His work this past year has been some of his finest. Seeing his school funding reform battle come to a compromise as well as his automatic voter registration. He is a champion for the 48th and the entire state. Always willing to talk to community groups in and out of his constituency. Great legislator and great person!

    Republican - Bill Brady

    Took on the leadership role and a lead in budget negotiations.

  4. - A guy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    To be clear, the Cullerton I’m referring to is President John Cullerton.

  5. - BothSidesofHisMouth - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    Agree on Phillips, 100%.

  6. - AndyTaylorville - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    Democrat; Bill Haine. One of the true gentlemen to serve in the General Assembly. A former prosecutor from the “judicial hell hole” of Madison County who is easily able to work across party lines and govern as a true moderate. His knowledge of history laced into his floor speeches and committee hearings will be missed.

    Republican; Even though she retired early I would still nominate Christine Radogno.

  7. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    Democrat- Senator Andy Manar

    Two words- School.Funding.

    Republican- Senator Christine Radogno

    Even though she left early, she stood up to Rauner when it counted.

  8. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    I think a thank you, and recognition is due to two Senators who are retiring.

    I first met Sen. Bill Haine when we were both in our 30’s. He immediately impressed me as an intelligent, well read, low keyed individual committed to public service. Whether serving Madison County as States Attorney or subsequently as a most capable successor to Sen Bowles he did not change. He was principled, hard working and diligent at quietly and effectively advocating for his constituents.

    And for the Republican side I think I have to go with my current Senator Kyle McCarter but for just the opposite reasons.

    Both will be missed.

  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    D - John Cullerton … he takes the abuse and still tries to make deals and move bills. Plus you can trust him.

    R - I know he has his faults and some people don’t like him, but Sam McCann for actually being his own person and representing his district. He works his district hard … and has the mileage payments to prove it.

  10. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    Karen McConnaughay she works her district, she is at every local event you can imagine. She looks out for business and trade interests but she also helps the most vulnerable; prime example include the formation of a bipartisan Women’s Caucus, the passage of a human trafficking task, and her work trying to straighten out the Legislative Ethics Commission.

  11. - Passive Agressive - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    R - Dale Righter — bucked his party to do what was in the best interest of his district on the budget.

    D - A. Manar — worked tirelessly on education reform and really relates well with the voters in his district.

  12. - Reaganing - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:05 pm:

    Republican: Jim Oberweis. Two words: egg nog.

    Democrat: Daniel Biss. He really wants a statewide office. Which funny enough, so does Oberweis.

    Also, both don’t buck their parties, stay strong and be good partians.

  13. - Reaganing - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:06 pm:


  14. - Emily Miller - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    It’s been a rough year for women. My nominations go to two women who display levels of grace under pressure that I do not have the capacity for yet (but I’m working on it.)

    Republican: Christine Radogno. She was (and is) smart, accessible, accountable and level-headed. We did not always agree, but I knew where she stood. She could also probably win the cutest grandkid on facebook award, if such a thing existed.

    Democrat: Toi Hutchinson. IPI and their loyal followers came after her hard after the budget votes. They attacked her via hateful social media posts, and even drew a nasty, racist cartoon about her where she, a black woman, was portrayed forcing a white working class man to literally carry the revenue increase on his back by tatooing it on. This did not lead her to shrink away. She continues to stand up for what she believes in and fight for the people of Illinois. She recently proved her bravery and composure again in recounting her experience with sexual harassment in Springfield– something that is very difficult for women to be honest about. She inspires women and supports women. We really need more of that.

  15. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    Republican- Does Rodogno still count? She tried to move heaven and earth to get a budget. Wasn’t her fault her party’s own governor sawed that branch off behind her.

    Democrat- Gotta be Manar. He had two huge accomplishments, one so big the Governor is trying to steal credit for it. And as soon as those big, heady statewide issues were done, he turned right around and started criss-crossing his district to talk about rural health.

  16. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:15 pm:

    Republican- Mike Unes. He had the stones to vote against Rauner and stay true to his convictions. He knew he could pay a price but cast an important vote for schools.

    John Cullerton- Takes a beating from Rauner and his minions, but is still the adult in the room.

  17. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:16 pm:

    Oops- check that Unes is a Rep- reading is fundamental.

  18. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    Sen. Manar, for spearheading and passing school reform.

    Sen. Radogno, though she left she pushed for compromise and “grand bargain” at one of the most critical times in state budget history.

  19. - SAP - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    R: Christine Radogno all the way. (I think I nominated her last spring). First on her side of the aisle to put states(wo)manship ahead of blind party loyalty on budget issue during the Rauner administration. A true pro. She is sorely missed.
    D: John Cullerton for pragmatism and for doing his level best on shuttle diplomacy between the House D’s and the Governor’s office.

  20. - SOIL M - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    Republican–Have to agree with Christine Radogno, but the leaving early may disqualify her. She was strong and smart, and her departure left a void.
    Also, even though you might not see a first year Senator as a contender for this yet, have to say Dale Fowler has really hit the ground running and made an impact in his District in his first year. Fowler began by learning about his district. He then began to work hard to help with issues in areas where he is working with people who supported his opponent, and has shown that he will work with Dems as well as with Repubs. He has been in Alexander County more this year than his predecessor was during his entire last term. He is a positive force that has taken on tasks down here where other politicians only phone in occasionally. For his efforts in his district I nominate Fowler. Again, being a rookie might not qualify him yet, but the improvement over he has been should at least win him Rookie of the year.

  21. - SOIL M - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:40 pm:

    “but the improvement over he has been…”
    Sorry, strike the “over” from that. Was going to name name previous senator but chose not to.

  22. - Toothpicks and Ice Cream - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    I also agree 100% on Reggie Phillips. Sorry I didn’t make the nomination yesterday. He is a guy who is in this because he wanted to do what was right for his community, regardless of politics.

    Onto today.
    Best Dem Senator: Cunningham. He works hard in his district and has great constituent service. And also, he is diplomatic on issues. Just an all around good guy.
    Best GOP Senator: Connelly. For all the same reasons above. This guy can tell a great story. He doesn’t care which side of an issue or political party you are on, he’s just a nice guy and great to work with.

  23. - walker - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    Christine Radogno and Toi Hutchison.

    No one can match Emily Miller in writing their praises, so I won’t even try.

  24. - Mugsy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 2:52 pm:

    Karen McConnaughay - She seems to rise above most of the partisan bickering even when everyone else is losing their heads. She would’ve made a great replacement for Radogno.

    Andy Manar - He’s loyal to a fault, dug in for the long haul to fix school funding, patient and respectful even to his critics, compassionate and empathetic to his constituents, and he actually gets big stuff moving through the Senate at a time when simpler legislation moves slower than molasses.

  25. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    Dems: Andy Manar. First school funding reform in decades. And it took him several years of dogged determination to finally see it through.

    Repubs: Christine Radogno. Sacrified her job to try to reach an agreement with the other side of the aisle. Tossed under the bus by BVR. Kudos to her for standing on principle.

  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    ===Best Illinois State Senator - Republican===

    My runner-up is Leader Radogno, but I’m going to save my thoughts there until the appropate time.

    When you are alone, it’s easy to see you and see what you’re doing. When you’re alone and standing up for what you know is the right thing to do, you’re not just alone, you may be lonely too.

    Sen. Dale Righter was willing to go alone to do what he felt was best for Illinois. While others talked about doing what’s right and still others wanted divisiveness be the hallmark of 2017, Sen. Righter’s stand, alone and unapologetic reminded me of when members knew who they were, and did what they did because of who they were. Voting as he did, Sen. Righter reminded me that his district and this state needed someone to take notice. Sen. Righter noticed, and acted, knowing that being alone was standing up for the many that needed him.

    My nomination is Sen. Righter. His service to this stare this year will go beyond any vote or votes, they saved Illinois’ tomorrows

  27. - Midstate Indy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:09 pm:

    Democrat - Andy Manar - He poured his efforts into school reform and not strictly for political points, but to actually have a substantive discussion about seeking equality in K-12 funding for students across the state. A major issue with infinite pitfalls that has been navigated by Sen. Manar with efficiency and integrity.

    Republican - Dale Righter - to quote Righter from the Sun-Times piece on 7/4/17 “in the end, you vote your district.” The lone republican senator to vote to approve the budget package who, along with Rep. Phillips, did so to help their district in spite of their personal views. Truly res publica.

  28. - InsideBaseball - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    D- Manar, school funding was a multi year massive piece of legislation.

    R- Radogno, she’s a class act. She did all she could to keep her caucus together and it’s a shame bigger forces than her made it intolerable to stay.

  29. - Illini - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    Andy Manar for the Dem…he spearheaded education and automatic voter registration. Both were huge accomplishments.
    Christine Radogno is hands down the winner…she tried to save the state and her party and took a lot of heat for it. She deserves a great retirement!

  30. - Governin' - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    Democrat - Andy Manar. IMO he did the impossible by getting education funding reform past the goal. He also does a great job representing his district.

    Republican - Jason Barickman. He is smart, accessible, and willing to listen. He’s the future of that caucus.

  31. - Under Influenced... - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:39 pm:

    Democrat - Andy Manar. What an incredible year he had and deservedly so. He dedicates the necessary time to truly understand an issue and has mastered the art of articulating his position. Agree or not with him, you have to be impressed by his work ethic. And what a session of legislative accomplishments: school funding reform, automatic voter registration, debt transparency and he was instrumental in the budget negotiations between the House and Senate. Manar, along with the rest of 2012 class of Senators, has a bright future in the GA.

    Republican - Righter. Don’t often agree with his policies, but he really does a great job as the Senate GOP floor leader. He knows how to tear apart a bill. And he certainly deserves kudos for taking the tough budget/tax vote.

  32. - Blue sox - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    Democrat - Andy Manar. He has the gravitas to lead on a big issue, but also takes care of his district.

    Republican - Jason Barickman. He’s the future of that caucus. A solid Republican but living in this century.

  33. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    Democrat: Manar.
    When was the last time a targeted Democratic lawmaker delivered on a sweeping policy so meaningful that the incumbent Republican governor had to embrace it as not just a good idea but the crowning accomplishment of his own time in office? That happened with school funding.
    There was also automatic voter registration and instead of resting and bragging, Manar’s out touring health care facilities focusing on needs/neglect in downstate/rural communities.
    Just try keeping up.

    Republican: Althoff.
    A constant voice of normalcy and reason both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. She will be missed.

  34. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    ===Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat===

    When your work is recognized as changing how a whole state sees and attacks an issue, you are making a difference. When your reaction to that work is to move on to other things where you can make a difference, instead of enjoying the victory lap, that’s separating yourself from the pack.

    Sen. Andy Manar championed the premise, the belief, the discussions and finally the sign bill, working education reform when others thought he was wasting his time. Sen. Manar continued to work thd problem as other problems arose, not complaining, but continuing to be the go-to person to keep hope alive to get a deal done. The politics to the work, they were never easy. Implosion and explosions threatened but Sen. Manar continued unimpeded, until the politics and the governing ripened, and Sen. Manar was there, from the beginning until the end.

    I nominate Sen. Andy Manar. The tireless education funding work was rewarded, but what makes him shine is that he won’t say he was rewarded for his work, but that Illinois was rewarded with bipartisan compromise and a funding formula for all.

  35. - Plainfield liberal - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 4:39 pm:

    Democrat - Bill Cunningham. He is a hard working and trustworthy senator, always willing to make time to listen to a constituent or help one out. I know Sen. Cunningham could be doing a million other things given his skills, but you can tell he does this job because he is a true, dedicated public servant.

    Republican - Sen. Radogno hands down. Set a shining example for the republicans on how they should be handling Rauner and even liberated several of them.

  36. - Come on, Man! - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 4:57 pm:

    D- Senator Tom Cullerton. The guy not only takes on causes that admirable he runs a solid district operation as well. The guy has been on the for front of issues like gov. consolidation before they were cool.

    R- Sen. Karen McConnaughay. Speaks truth to power and voters district and conscience. The IG stuff also makes her a contender this year as well.

  37. - Roman - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 5:19 pm:

    Pardon my lack of originality, but I have to go with:

    Democrat —Andy Manar. This is the biggest no-brainer of all the Golden Horseshoes this year for all the reasons mentioned above.

    Republican — Dale Righter. Not only does he deserve mega-points for the guts he showed taking the budget vote, but he is clearly the senate’s best on-the-floor orator. Always finds a way to make a difficult arguement sound simple and he questions the Democrats who are presenting their bills like a skilled litigator. What’s more, he manages to do it in a respectful way.

  38. - Cowboy - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 6:12 pm:

    Democrat: Andy Manar. School funding. Automatic voter registration. Debt transparency. Leading Rauner critic. That’s just the surface. This is a no-brainer. No legislator is recent history has had a year like this guy AND HE REPRESENTS THE MOST REPUBLICAN DISTRICT HELD BY A DEMOCRAT. The man is as fearless as he is smart.

    Republican: Christine Radogno. Without her work, no budget would have been enacted this year. She showed strength and poise. And her steady voice is already being missed in the senate republican caucus.

  39. - Ross Brown - Wednesday, Dec 13, 17 @ 9:50 pm:

    Republican: Jason Barickman. He is always willing to work with constituents and fellow Senators and to reach across the aisle. At a time when the GOP’s future is in question, it is nice to know that the party has a true leader in Barickman in the General Assembly. Working hard to try and pass a school funding reform bill, Barickman represents his district well. He has a bright future ahead.

    Democrat: Andy Manar. Manar always has popped up this year in most stories and is a leader in the party, working hard on legislation including school funding, that he was one of the main sponsors of. Senator Manar comes from a rural area (heavy Republican) but has a history of work in the education field and works hard in the G.A.

  40. - Miss Marie - Thursday, Dec 14, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    Sen. Haine is a great statesman and will be sincerely missed in the chambers. He also put his health, and possibly his life, in danger when he came to vote to finally end the budget impasse, but he did it anyways. I really respect him.

    Sen. Radogno was a good leader and I was sad to see her go. Other people said it better, so I’m not even going to try.

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