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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 21, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to Mike Mahoney

He served as the governor’s top legislative liaison for the first seven months of this year. His determination, affability and old-school grit held the House and Senate GOP caucuses together longer than anyone ever imagined. Mike was the glue that held the caucus together and kept Jim Durkin sane all the way to the end. Rauner never understood and never appreciated how much Mahoney did to keep him in the game for additional months. Along the way, he helped broker major criminal justice reforms and a laundry list of agency initiatives that Rauner now takes credit for. Mahoney also should win this year hands down for the integrity and class he demonstrated during the Great Purge - walking out in solidarity with people he respected and doing so with grace. And even after all of that, Mahoney saved Rauner’s behind during veto session, devoting his every minute to keeping GOP members off the right to work bill. Effective, determined, creative, loyal and courageous. He is someone we should celebrate during this holiday season - a bright spot in an otherwise depressing year.


Honorable mention goes to Eric Lane with the Comptroller’s office. I’ve generally been looking for nominees who had discernible accomplishments this year, so both fit that bill.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to Steve Selcke and the rest of AT&T’s Statehouse team

Straight-forward, honest, and always has an answer. This year he successfully navigated (well, almost there right now) the telecom rewrite, 911 issue, and the small cell bill. Some big lifts indeed.


* OK, on to today’s categories…

* Best Statewide Officeholder

* Best Statehouse Insider

As always, please explain your votes or they won’t count and do your very best to nominate in both categories. Thanks.


  1. - Anon221 - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Statewide Officeholder- Hands down- Comptroller Susana Mendoza. She tells it like it is and holds Rauner accountable at every turn.

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Best Statewide Office Holder - For me, the clear choice is Comptroller Susana Mendoza. The Comptroller has been tireless since taking office last December, both in her official work and in her public outreach. She not only successfully managed the impossible task of handling the state’s bills, she also fought and won decisively a battle with the governor over important reform legislation for her office.

    Politico put Comptroller Mendoza on their 18 to watch in 18 list. She absolutely deserves to be there as an outspoken and effective public servant.

  3. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    The best statewide has to be Susana Mendoza right? She’s been tough as nails, a perfect foil to the gov, and got a bunch of things accomplished in her short time. I mean, she was even on this Medicaid contract stuff early….way before this round of issues.

  4. - Annonin' - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    BSO: Lisa Madigan lifetime achievement award. We could also be for Mendoza
    BSI: Proft? still gettin’ millions and makin’ few disclosures. Might not fit insider role

  5. - Susana for Statewide - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Susana Mendoza is the best statewide office holder. She’s everywhere, she knows the ins and outs of the job, she’s communicating that to everyone she comes in contact with, and she’s leading the charge against Gov. Rauner. She should be running for Governor.

  6. - Richard - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    For best Statewide Officeholder I proudly nominate Comptroller Mendoza. Comptroller Mendoza has had a heck of a year as serving as Illinois Comptroller. However, she has some major accomplishments such as the nearly unanimous veto override of the Debt Transparency Bill, using the bond proceeds revenue to cut our backlog of bills to over $9 Billion dollars. In addition, standing firm to Governor Rauner.

  7. - Mouthy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    Vote for Comptroller Susana Mendoza simply because in my opinion she should be the next Governor not the next ruling billionaire…
    My vote for insider is Amanda Vinicky who takes her craft seriously..

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    As is my usual custom, I’d like to submit a few names for your consideration on the “Best Insider” category.

    Jeff Glass: The dude goes back with Madigan since he was a kid. He’s long been tight with Leader Durkin. And he parked in Bill Brady’s office before Brady became a leader, so Brady’s elevation worked out well. Just about nobody is better positioned these days than Glass, who is also smart as heck and knows how to count.

    Dave Sullivan: He’s more well-known than Glass, mainly because he (successfully) works so many high-profile bills and he’s a former legislator. An all-around good guy who knows just about everyone and you can always trust his word.

    Greg Baise: A Republican from way, way back who still manages to work with Democrats. He’s a gray beard without the beard.

    Nancy Kimme: Represents just about everyone because she works so hard and because she works well with Democrats and Republicans. Managed to stay on top of her game even after the Rauner purges.

    Mike Kasper: Perennial favorite. Madigan’s top lawyer who has so much juice that he’s allowed to work for the Kennedy campaign.

    There are more, but I have to leave the office for a dental appointment in a few minutes.

  9. - LizPhairTax - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    I like Mike Frerichs. Friendly guy. Does the Treasurer stuff well, engages when necessary. Hands out unclaimed property. Single occupancy. He’s got it all.

    EJ Hall. Plugged in, dilligent, a good man. He knows what’s going on but plays it close to the vest. A credit to his organization and always looking out for others.

  10. - theCardinal - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    Frerichs was good to work with as Senator and has maintained that approachability as treasurer.

    Dave Sullivan is one of the best ever IMO.

  11. - Come on, Man - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Statewide: Susana, this is a no brained.

    Insider: IMHO opinion if you are a good insider people down know who you are from the peanut gallery.

  12. - Mouthy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    I withdraw my Amanda Vinicky insider vote mainly because I misunderstood the category…

  13. - walker - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    When I recommend to a newcomer, whom to meet and trust in Springfield, Dave Sullivan comes first to mind.

    Susana is acting as hoped, only more so. She has transcended the highest expectations.

  14. - SaulGoodman - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    Statewide office holder: Mendoza, and it isn’t even close. She has FAR exceeded my expectations. She has stood up to Rauner, but she has also gotten things done. The work she did on the debt transparency bill was very impressive.

    Insider: Dave Sullivan. Dave Sullivan. Dave Sullivan. Yeah, he wins these awards all the time. But he wins because he’s the best. Deep relationships on both sides of the aisle, really has his pulse on what is going on, but, more importantly, maintains his integrity and ethics. Great guy, great lobbyist, great insider.

  15. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    Susana! She’s been doing a great job prioritizing bills and keeping social service providers afloat. Shepherding the transparency bill through the veto override seals this one.

  16. - Leslie K - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    Statewide: Comptroller Mendoza, for the reasons already give.

    Insider: I will second LizPhairTax’s nomination of EJ Hall. EJ was one of the first people I met at the Statehouse, and he definitely helped me avoid some potential blunders as a newbie. He is smart, steady, discrete, cares about other people and is always ready to be helpful. I’ve never seen him lose his cool at anyone, no matter how much pressure he was under. A man of integrity.

  17. - Shytown - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Best statewide officeholder…is there even a competition here? Mendoza for the win.

  18. - Shytown - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    Kasper for insider. Nice guy. Quality.

  19. - illini - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    Susana has demonstrated her independence, integrity and has far exceeded any expectations I may have had. Her accomplishments are numerous, as has been previously noted. All of Illinois should be thankful for her diligence, competence and concern for the well being of our State.

    Mike Kasper is the only insider I have had any contact with over these past years but he has always demonstrated his competence, knowledge and ability. Besides, he has always returned my calls and usually the same day.

  20. - Advocacy Andy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 11:57 am:

    Statewide Officer: Susana Mendoza, duh? Without her I really don’t know who had the credibility and fire to have gone toe-to-toe with the Governor. The best part? Illinoisans are listening to her and the Governor’s numbers provide all the evidence you need to prove it.

    Insider: Dave Sullivan. The guy is the real deal, a class-act, and one of only a handful of truly genuine people in the capitol. I’ve never seen the guy lose his cool or get remotely frustrated but you never *ever* question his dedication.

    If Dave Sullivan doesn’t like you, then I don’t want to know you. If you don’t like Dave Sullivan, then take a hike.

    I’ve come to realize that if I follow this simple rule I find myself surrounded by good people.

  21. - MG85 - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    BSO: Hands down it’s Susana Mendoza. She’s made a name for herself as a no nonsense politician who backs policy that offers transparency and fiscal responsibility at the highest level.

  22. - Cmon Man - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    Best statewide: gov Rauner for trying to fix our state

    Best statehouse insider: Mike Madigan

  23. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===Best Statehouse Insider===

    For me, the measure of a good insider must include two very important traits that allows their skills and knowledge to be important catalysts on the inside of policy and the politics that drive it. They must be able to work both sides of the aisle, knowing that a bipartisan solution, or understanding the other side, are the best way to be most effective. The best knseiders know this all too well. The second is their word. You trade off relationships and your word. Very successful insiders don’t have that worry, keeping their word, it’s who they are. You know, even without thinking, the word of these insiders is good, and trust is never an issue.

    Nancy Kimme and Dave Sullivan are two insiders that fully grasp these two thoughts, and are extremely successful at how the go about their business.

    Dave Sullivan has shown throughout his career that working and understanding both sides makes working his side even more effective. He’s knowledgeable to the policy and wonky workings, but can speak to the politics and climate with the same ease and knowledge, and working with many sides to get things done. His word is good, and his style of work reflects a great guy who may be working against you, but cheering for you personally, and that’s Dave Sullivan.

    If you can find anyone within state government or works close to its inter-workings that hasn’t had a contact or working relationship with Nancy Kimme, you might not be asking someone who is involved in Illinois. Both sides know, Nancy Kimme is someone that has a connection or a reference that can be important to moving the policy or the politics and can see it through to the the end. Her vast policy and process knowledge is legendary to find soultions where others may see roadblocks. Her word is good, and you know your trust in her is just as good too. Nancy Kimme is one of those people that brings together people, policy, and politics, and all trust in her leadership to do it.

    I nominate Nancy Kimme and Dave Sullivan.

    They both show what true insiders can do to make a difference, and do it with respect to the politics and policy, but with great deference to the craft, and to the people they are helping. Both are deserving.

  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Mendoza, hands down. Finally, a Democrat to take the wood to Rauner and expose his misanthropy and weasel-ways with GRF in the public square.

  25. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:03 pm:

    How can it be anyone but Mendoza? Brought a high degree of oversight and transparency to State finances that her predecessor was just giving lip service to. Plus she really seems to get around the entire State, and has managed the checkbook very well considering the state’s finances.

    As to insider, don’t know any very well but agree on Kasper selection.

  26. - Billy Goat - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    Statewide: Mendoza every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Her accomplishments are obvious but she’s also living up to the legacy of JBT. I’m hard-pressed to think of much where those two would disagree nowadays.

  27. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: There is no way that Susana Mendoza doesn’t win this. Given an opportunity to shine, she nails it. She wins every media cycle, and every initiative or bill she attaches her name to. If you read about her, you admire her, and then if you meet her, you love her. She is going places.

  28. - Linus - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:15 pm:

    Put me, too, down for 1 Susana Mendoza and 1 Dave Sullivan. I cannot improve upon the reasons given in the nominations for them that already have been submitted!

  29. - Veritas - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:35 pm:

    Statewide: Treasurer Frerichs for being above the fray, getting good legislation passed (expatriation bill), and not being a partisan Madigan pawn like Mendoza.

    Insider: Kimme knows it all and has for years, she deserves lifetime status.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    ===Best Statewide Officeholder===

    I’ve believed the best way to get the next best job is to do the job you’re currently doing best. As others opined when she became the newly minted Comptroller, Susana Mendoza kept her head down and worked, and worked hard at doing her job and doing it the best she can.

    What Susana Mendoza has done is she’s brought old style governing back and used the right amount of politics within the gonerbing to get things done. Mendoza worked, personally, legislators on the HB3649, Debt Transparency Act like an old school pol. She worked editorial Boards, she worked the press, she spoke to the need, and with just enough of the politics abc impeccable timing, made her work pay off with override totals in both chambers that made clear, good governing is good politics, and good politics secured the good governing. Plus, when you stand up to Quarters Boyle, it doesn’t matter who it is, they are tough and aren’t taking anything from anyone who they know they’re right. Susana Mendoza was right with Boyle, but most importantly, Susana Mendoza has been what Illinois needed, when Illinois needed it most. Mendoza hasn’t disappointed, she’s shined.

    I nominate Susana Mendoza for state wide officeholder.

    It’s been a real boost in Illinois governing this year with her as the Comptroller. Her hard work, dedication, and bringing back the politics and governing to get policy done is a great way to show she’s doing her current job best.

  31. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 4:30 pm:

    This is simple and a twofer. Best state wide office holder is Mike Madigan. Even Rauner says he is in control of state. Best insider. Again Mike Madigan. For a state rep he is so inside he is like a mole controlling the whole state

  32. - Money! - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 7:44 pm:

    In terms of statewides, I think I’m most impressed with our two financial officers. On the Frerichs side, he’s quietly put together a really strong track record with the insurance legislation and getting buy-in from a few states on that disability program. For Mendoza, it has been well said here, she is a fighter and really hard worker. The debt transparency bill plus all her advocacy work on the budget and bond deals must be applauded.

    If I had to pick one I’d go with Mendoza, but it hasn’t been often in Illinois history where you could say financial offices have been a strong suit and I think you can right now.

  33. - justacitizen - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 7:47 pm:

    If the category statewide officeholder only includes Gov, SoS, Auditor General, Attorney General, Comptroller & Treasurer, I would go with Jesse White over Mendoza mostly for his work over a long period of time. Mendoza is a newcomer but hasn’t proven herself over time. Previous Comptroller’s going back to Roland Burris were never given nearly the publicity that Mendoza gets because she fell into the right spot at the right time. The Comptroller’s Office has relatively little power. I agree though, that her outspokenness and willingness to take on the governor should be applauded.

    Is Kent Redfield considered and insider? I always enjoy hearing his unbiased (at least he appears unbiased to me) critiques. No other insiders.

  34. - Money - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 8:16 pm:

    For the statewides, I have to say that I am impressed with our two financial officers. For Frerichs, he has quietly put together an impressive track record with his insurance legislation and getting other states to buy-in to his new disability program. For Mendoza, it’s been well said here, but she’s a fighter and really hard worker. Her work on the debt transparency bill as well as her advocacy during the budget and bond deals is to be applauded.

    If I had to pick one I’d say Mendoza, but it hasn’t been often in state history that we could be proud of our financial officers and I think we can now.

  35. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 22, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===The Comptroller’s Office has relatively little power===

    I tell every new governor the same thing: Keep the comptroller happy. Too many people feel the way the quoted commenter does. It’s a hugely powerful office when the comptroller wants it to be.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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